Tips and Advice for Activating or Switching to a Tracfone Smartphone
We get a lot of questions from our readers here at TracfoneReviewer about switching to Tracfone smartphones, and as more and more people make that transition, we wanted to share the best advice and tips we’ve gathered from our experiences, and those of our readers.
|How to Activate a Tracfone Smartphone|
If you’re in one of the following situations, this how-to will be especially helpful for you:
-Switching from a Non-Smartphone to a Smartphone
-Switching from one Smartphone to Another
-Activating a New Smartphone
-Switching to a Tracfone BYOP device.
What we want to share is some information on how to start the transfer or activation process, and our best advice on making the transition as smooth as possible. A number of longtime Tracfone users are making the switch to Smartphones (partially because of the closing of 2G networks) and it can be very challenging and frustrating to try and figure out how to do it.
Let’s start with the activation process.
Basic Process for Activating a Smartphone
Here are the basic steps we would recommend for activating a smartphone with Tracfone. Before we start, keep in mind these points about smartphones:
- You cannon switch from a smartphone back to a regular phone
- Airtime on smartphones is split into three pools – Talk/Text/Data
- Smartphones come with Triple Minutes for Life, but won’t accept promo codes
- Smartphone-only airtime cards do not triple.
OK, now let’s start the process.
Step 1 – Verify what coverage works best in your area
Verify and purchase a phone that will be compatible with your geographical area. Tracfone offers both GSM and CDMA coverage, but some areas only have one or the other. For their GSM coverage, they use AT&T cell towers and for their CDMA coverage they use Verizon towers. If you’ve already got a phone from Tracfone, check what comes at the end of the name. a ‘G’ at the end means GSM, a ‘C’ means CDMA (for example, the LG 306G uses GSM).
|Tracfone Activation Steps|
For those planning to bring their own device, check that the phone you are purchasing is unlocked, and compatible with the network you plan to use. Some smartphones can actually be used with either network, like the new Moto G 4th Gen.
Step 2 – Gather Necessary Items
To activate a new Tracfone smartphone, you simply need the phone you wish to activate, and the red activation card which includes the serial number.
To activate a phone on Tracfone BYOP, you will need a Tracfone SIM card kit, the phone you wish to activate, and an airtime card (or credit card to buy airtime).
If you’re transferring service, you should also have your old phone with you.
Step 3 – Start the Activation Process
You can either call Tracfone or use their website to start the activation process, but we recommend using the website.
Go to Tracfone.com and look for the orange button towards the top right of the screen that says “activate/reactivate/transfer” and choose this option.
Follow the prompts, choosing whether you are using a Tracfone Smartphone, or a BYOP device. Then continue to enter the information as prompted.
We’ve heard from many readers who have been able to activate their device in a matter of minutes. But things don’t always go so smoothly, so continue on to the next step.
Step 4 – Check that Everything Works
Once you complete the activation process (which usually takes less than an hour, but may take up to 2 days), make your test calls, test texts, and check that your data works.
If something is not working, start by turning your device off and back on (for most devices this means hold the power button for several seconds until it powers down or asks if you want to turn it off), and then wait at least 48 hours after activating to see if it will start working.
If you still don’t have an active device, it is time to contact Tracfone.
There are (at least) 6 Ways to Contact Tracfone:
- Call Tracfone – 1 (800) 867-7183 (this is their customer service number, available 8AM-11:45PM EST 7 days a week)
- Text Tracfone – Text ‘HELP’ to 611611 (we’ve never actually tried this, so don’t know how well it will work)
- Email Tracfone – This doesn’t seem to be available at the moment
- Use the Tracfone Forum
- Use the Tracfone Facebook page
- You can also chat via Facebook
Here is the contact page on the Tracfone website
For most, calling is the best way to get help, although other methods might work better for you depending on your situation. Be prepared to be patient and clearly explain your problem. Tracfone customer service is not the best, but I’ve always had my problems fixed eventually.
The majority of people have no issues and smoothly activate their new phone or transfer their number and minutes. But a small percent seem to run into issues, anything from Tracfone sending the wrong SIM, to ill-informed customer service. Based on years of comments and reports from our readers, these issues just sometimes happen, and you will need some patience and determination to work through it.
Leave a comment with your preferred method of communication, and any other feedback on contacting Tracfone in the comments below!
Additional Tips and Advice for Actuating a Tracfone Smartphone
Here are some extra tips and helpful information we hope will make for an easier activation process and answer some of your questions.
- Double check your coverage area. One way to check what service you have in your area is to enter your zipcode on the Tracfone website when shopping for a phone. If only CDMA devices show up, you live in an area best suited to CDMA. But, that doesn’t mean GSM won’t work in that area. We’ve heard from several readers who reported using a different zipcode to activate their phone and the device still works in their home area.
- Buying Tracfone smartphones from other retailers like Amazon, eBay, HSN, QVC and retail stores, can often be much cheaper than buying directly from the Tracfone website.
- Most unlocked smartphones will work with Tracfone BYOP. Occasionally they don’t, but with enough persistence they might.
- You can check your device’s IMEI or ESN number on the Tracfone website to see if it is compatible, although they are occasionally wrong.
- Get a BYOP SIM card kit from Amazon or BestBuy for $1. This includes all the SIM cards you will need (Nano, Micro and Regular) and a network activation code.
- If you’re having trouble with getting help from customer service, try escalating to Tracfone’s Florida help center number: 1-800-876-5753. But if the lines are busy, you’ll be directed back to regular customer service.
- Try to be clear and patient with customer service. They are not the easiest to understand, nor are they always correct, but they do try to sort things out. If you’re not making progress, ask for a supervisor or hang up and call again.
- Turning your smartphone off and back on will often solve problems. Doing a full reset may also solve issues if you can’t find a different solution.
- If you are transferring from one smartphone to another, you should be able to log into your Google account on the new phone and automatically load your apps, contacts, and other information.
- If your Data or MMS is not working, you can try updating your settings here.
Over the last several years Tracfone has become much better at activating smartphones and BYOP devices. Those that tried activating smartphones when they were first released probably remember all the issues. But many problems have been fixed, the BYOP program has been expanded to almost any smartphone, and the activation process is generally fast and easy.
We hope these tips will help make your activation process easier, or give you the confidence to give it a try. Leave a comment with further questions, or any tips we missed! (FYI – comments are posted after they are moderated, as we get a lot of spam)
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If you’re looking for a new phone, see some great Deals and Discounts we recently posted!
Also, take a look at our update to 4 Ways to Check your Airtime with Tracfone if you like to keep track of your minutes balance.
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