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  • How to Activate a TracFone

    TracFone is the 6th largest mobile network operator in the United States. It allows its customers to purchase airtime usage when they purchase phones that companies like Nokia, LG, and Motorola make.

    A TracFone customer has to activate the cell phone before using it. It can be activated via the TracFone website or TracFone customer care. It is also possible to download the programming codes from the website directly to the cell phone. Customers can also utilize the OTA (Over The Air) feature to activate a TracFone. The TracFone’s OTA feature allows the customer to activate his/her phone through the radio waves that the customer’s local tower provides.

    TracFone assigns a code number based on the zip code that the customer provides. The activation process may take a few hours or a day. It is also possible to transfer an existing TracFone Number to a new phone. Transferring an existing number to a new phone may take 3 to 10 business days. Transferring a phone number from another company to a TracFone may take 2 weeks.

    Prior to activating Tracfone, insert the battery into the handset and charge it for one or two hours. Choose the phone’s main menu and select the “prepaid option.” Now click “My ESN” (it can be My IMEI or Serial Number depending on the phone). Note the number displayed when this option is clicked and also record the SIM serial number.

    Open the TracFone website http://www.tracfone.com to activate the phone. Click “Activate/Reactivate” on the website. First time users should enter the personal information that the website requires. Click on the brand of the phone on the available phone list. Now choose the phone model from the list of pictures provided. Enter the serial number previously noted in the designated space. Customers also have to provide their billing information and airtime. Follow the directions on the site to activate and verify the phone number. Once the activation process is over, the customer will receive an SMS confirming the TracFone’s activation.

    The TracFone activation process is different for different models. Whatever the phone’s brand, it is important to note the IMEI and SIM card serial numbers that come with the phone. When compared to other phones, activating a Verizon Wireless prepaid phone is simple. It only requires the user to dial *22888 and hit the send button. The customer should then enter his/her zip code in the space provided. The customer will then be asked to choose the code for the language he/she prefers. The customer will then receive a message regarding his/her talk time as an indication of TracFone activation.

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    1. tom

      26 September, 2018 at 11:16 pm

      NEW ripoff policy…..i bought a used tracfone from an experienced ebay tech seller, had to return it, tracfonie will not activate a used phone unless it’s activated……BYOfone>>>> only if it’s activated or new w/bar code proofs…sleezy rip off details

    2. Martha

      22 March, 2018 at 9:32 pm

      I just bought a Tracfone “smart”phone. I took the package to my local library, followed the instructions on the red card, went to the website to activate, and the page won’t load. I don’t have a phone at home & don’t subscribe to Internet at home either. I tried to access the website on both the phone’s browser & (here) on my library’s computer. Webpage won’t load. And there are no public phones at my library. Does Google own the software on the phone? Verizon? The company clearly doesn’t care about the user experience or customer service. I’m so sick of spending my money on companies’ products only to learn the companies don’t care about me & won’t offer even moderately competent help/service.

    3. Rose A McGuire

      30 January, 2018 at 11:59 pm

      am in need of help in structions as how to set up my new LG tracfone it is already been activated but I need help as
      what is the next step. please help.

    4. Rose A McGuire

      30 January, 2018 at 11:54 pm

      my tracfone is activated,and have wifi the problem is i do not know how to use it . I am totally frustated and feel like
      a fool not knowing how to use this phone , please help me with directions from start to finish. thank you

      • Rose A McGuire

        31 January, 2018 at 12:03 am


    5. Nancy L Schultz

      28 August, 2017 at 6:22 pm

      On 8/27 I spent over an hour with “Prescott” chatting about my tracfone and not being able to get my phone number to activate on my new phone. He eventually said that I would have to call the customer service dept and gave me a number along with a reference number for when I called. Asked if he would email me a copy of this and said that it would be emailed to me by clicking the envelope icon at the top of the screen. As of this time I have not received the email so have no reference number to refer to when calling. Please help – I would like to get this resolved.
      Thank you

    6. Laura jackson

      11 May, 2017 at 11:52 am

      A safelink wireless trac phone was stolen from me and i have the serial number and the sim card number how can i find where the phone is located..ASAP……between 2 people that i know. .

    7. Madison Russell

      20 February, 2017 at 3:09 am

      I’m trying to activate my new trac-fone, and I don’t have the serial number. . .

    8. Mary Rippy

      22 November, 2016 at 7:37 pm

      Currently I have a cell phone number (Verizon) that I would like transferred to my new Tracfone.
      Can this be done ? Nov. 23 is my deadline, so I need help today. Thanks so much.
      Mary Rippy


    9. kc

      23 November, 2015 at 11:21 pm

      I just my fone activated but cant access anything ,it is locked to emergercy calls only,anyone who can help?

      • Roberta Mancillas

        24 July, 2016 at 3:38 pm

        7-24-16 I’m going thru that aggravation now. New phone from HSN. I’m trying to be patient since it says it might take 24 hrs to hear back but I can’t test the phone. It’s locked to emergency calls and I never got a phone # for it. Very frustrating since some people wrote they got activated immediately. If nothing changes, I’ll return it in a few days. It came with the 1200 free min plan and I had high hopes. My zip code should not be an issue.

        • Lynne

          28 December, 2016 at 6:51 am

          I got the same deal on hsn and it won’t make calls, it keeps saying not registered on network. I was just wondering if you ever got yours to work. Or if you had to return it. I will return it if I can’t figure it out by tomorrow

    10. Sandra Clark

      11 August, 2015 at 7:05 am

      i just got tracfone tried activation on landline phone it still says ”activation required”

    11. Amanda

      20 December, 2014 at 10:17 pm

      I’m having problems with transferring my service from my old tracfone to my new one, I’ve followed all the instructions, the screen no longer says “unregistered sim card” but now says “activation required” and my old phone has been deactivated, so I am without a phone right now, I’ve tried turning off and back on, please help! I can’t understand the accents of the people on tech support

    12. A person

      22 November, 2014 at 2:55 am

      Does it cost half a minute each minute for social networks or anything else that requires Internet connection?

    13. jean dorman

      11 May, 2013 at 10:32 pm

      no manual came with my tracfone (Alcatel)

      • david christie

        3 May, 2018 at 7:45 pm

        I have AOL email and cannot activate it into my alcatel raven tracfone. I do nt know the setting or the port or security type.

    14. Helen

      9 May, 2013 at 12:08 am

      My wonderful Smart Tracfone fell in a puddle and died. I sent for a new one but can’t get it activated. Tracfone said they would activate and transfer minutes from my old phone but now the first screen that comes up says’ SIM invalid’. I keep calling and can’t understand the associates because of their Indian accents. In the meantime, I don’t have a phone. WHAT DO I DO?

      • DanielMemetic

        10 May, 2013 at 5:07 am

        Did you try the Activate Phone feature on TracFone.com (as suggested in the article)?

    15. Marylou Gray

      1 April, 2013 at 9:40 pm

      I did not receive any instructions with my new tracfone and would like to know how to add and delete contacts, also need to know how to connect to wifi

    16. edward hamilton

      3 August, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      Bought a new phone. Followed instructions to activate it. Did not work. Called 800 number Have now been holding on for 17 minutes.
      Went to the internet address. Tried to activate. Screen asking for the SIM number to be activated. NOTHING WORKS???? Is there anyone or thing out there that can help me activate it?

    17. Sarah Quigley

      4 April, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      I recently purchased a one year addition of minutes to my tracfone, but it has not been added on the phone’s opening screen. How do I get tracfone to update the additional minutes.

      Also my phone has received some 31 messages that were to a wrong number. How can I avoid this? Do I need to change the number of my phone?

      Thank you for your assistance.

      The phone’s number is 541 517-5429

    18. Connecticut Sam

      9 March, 2012 at 4:52 am

      Best of luck to Datherine Davis.

    19. Edward Baratto

      7 February, 2012 at 5:27 pm

      I want to activate my phone for International calls

      • an

        18 March, 2012 at 7:44 pm

        I purchased my first tracfone 3 or so years ago. I activated my phone by dialing a number on the phone I brought. I didn’t need to call a number from a Land phone, nor go online to activte the phone, which is tracfone’s requirement today.

        After three good years, by phone went bonkers, all kinds of weird stuff started happening, and tech support was no help, so I brought a new phone yesterday(March 17, 2012).

        As for international calls; I don’t recall reading in the instuction book 3 years ago any specific activation rules before making international calls. But here is the Customer Care Center number that’s given in Tracfone’s latest guide book for setting up International calls. 1-800-867-7183.

        They say to call this number. Setup is free.

        Good Luck!

    20. Ernest Cutrer

      4 February, 2012 at 8:39 pm

      Activation of new phone.

      • Ray Tesiero

        9 February, 2012 at 6:09 pm

        I have tried to setup the voice mail without success. I can make outgoing calls but am not able to receive calls,the recoeding says that my voice mail has not been activated.

    21. Ernest Cutrer

      4 February, 2012 at 8:37 pm

      Requesting activation of new phone.

    22. Eileen Paget

      4 February, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      I just bought a Tracfone and there isn’t any instructions on the basics as to how to add contacts or delete them.  How can I get an instruction brochure?


      20 January, 2012 at 5:09 pm

      i want to activate  my trac fon. you arenot clear on it at all!!!!

    24. I am zuhair yousif

      14 January, 2012 at 6:08 pm

      I received my new SIM card till now I do not active it 

    25. Joan

      11 January, 2012 at 4:31 pm

      I am having a problem with the Tracfone.  My Tracfone does not ring when there is an incoming call.  I managed to get the Tracfone to vibrate, so it vibrates everytime there is an incoming call.
      I turned the volume up to 7, but the Tracfone still does not ring when there is an incoming call.  I called Tech Support and they told me to save after I selected a function.
      I did that, and the Tracfone still does not ring when there is an incoming call. 

    26. julianna

      8 January, 2012 at 7:48 pm

      how do i active my security code on the tracfoneLG?

    27. James Pikowski

      30 December, 2011 at 9:51 pm

      need help!!!  love my tracfone, I am having a problem, it will not ring when I get an incoming call, have tried everything , not ringing????  Help

      • julianna

        8 January, 2012 at 7:56 pm

        have you tryed to press send when you get a call? if you haven`t you should try it but if you have it may be on vibrate or you nedd to turn up the volume. you should also read the tracfone book that came with you tracfone.

      • an

        18 March, 2012 at 7:22 pm

        Hi James,

        that’s the first sign I had too, when my tracfone of 3 years of use started to go bonkers.

        It stopped ringing. Then the incoming message text signal stopped working too. My daughter would text me and i wouldn’t know becaue my phone wouldn’t signal the incoming text. And tech support say, ha, just turn up the volume. Problem solved. or Is it set to “ring”. Ah, yeah. I set the tone to ring when I get a text, it’s supposed to ring when I get a call. My phone even stopped vibrating.

        then one day, it rang, next day, it didn’t. One day, it vibrated, next day, it didn’t vibrate. One day, the backlight was lit, next day, the keypad was lit, display, not let.

        I just brought a new phone.

        So, if your phone starts acting crazy like mines recently did, and its got a few years wear on it, you just might have to buy a new phone. But if it’s fairly new, tracfone might replace it free of charge.

        Good luck with dealing with their tech and customer support.

        • Ironhorse

          23 January, 2016 at 3:39 am

          Good luck with dealing with their tech and customer support:

          I’ve been lied to by customer support numerous times over the years. The latest tracfone episode was the phone started acting squirrelly for several weeks, so I would remove the battery then reinstall it. A friend for several days attempted to call me, I found out when he came over to inform me. I found out my tracfone is deactivated, and to reactivate it, the company expects me to purchase minutes when I already have 250 minutes plus, and 105 service days. If anyone so chooses to buy a tracfone, don’t be surprised if you develop problems with minutes, and you don’t get satisfactory customer support.

    28. floyd finnicum

      14 December, 2011 at 2:37 pm

      You need to do something about how long it takes to activate a phone!!!.  24 hours?!!!   One phone dont work and the other one dont work till its activated.

    29. Smarter Generation

      4 December, 2011 at 6:06 pm

      You have to activate the phone…. DUH! It doesnt just come activated… take it to a local retailer or go on the website and do it. If you can read… than you can activate it… ::shake my head::

      • an

        18 March, 2012 at 7:07 pm

        If my memory serves me correctly, when disposable phones came about, they were designed for on-the-go, and with the possibility of one-time-use. (which is why they’re usually cheap to buy)You were able to grab a phone and prepaid minutes card, dial a number (given in instruction booklet) on the phone you just brought to activate it, and get the job done within in minutes. You didn’t have to call customer service using a different phone and go through a series of prompts, or go online and sign up, givng a bunch of personal information just to activate the phone. That’s added stress, time consuming, inconvenience, etc…which is counteractive to what the disposable phones were supposed to be about.

        I believe that the reason many cellphone companies now require the user to go online or use a land phone to active the new phone is to extact personal info from the user; When you use a land phone, your number comes up on their caller ID, and of course, the number is attached to someone’s name and address. And when you go online, you must register on their site and submit personal info in order to activate your phone.

        We have come a long way from what prepaid, pay-as-you-go phones is supposed to be about; a non intrusive, no contract way of using a portable phone on-the-go. That means, that the users name, address, phone number or any other personal info is not to be attached to the phone.

        but with so much commercialism nowadays, all the competition betweens the cellphone companies, online social networking, and so on, everybody’s trying to extract as much info about the user of their products for promotional and financial gain.

        I remember about four years ago, one company, whose name I won’t mention, that has pay-as-you-go told me that I needed to pay $50. activation fee, and a minimal of $50 each month to use their pay-as-you-go service? What? And on top of the $100. it was going to cost me to get started, they were charging taxes and somekind of service fee. I have no idea what that is. And, they required me to fill out an application! Name, address, phone number, and so. I asked the rep at the phone center why the company required such a high minimal monthly fee to use their prepaid service? shouldn’t I decided whether or not I want to buy more minutes every month, as this is what pay-as-you-go was all about. He just shrugged his shoulders and said, that’s the way their program works. To this, day, their requirements has not changed, but the setup fees and monthly prepaid fees are higher.

        I found tracfone to be more reasonable with their prepaid minutes cards prices, which was why I brought their phone. I’ve been using tracfone for three years now, and I don’t recall having to use a land phone back then to activate my phone.

        I still own a trafone and like their prices, but the one problem I have with them is that they have poor tech and customer service support.

        I tried for two consecutive weeks by email to get tech support for my phone, it had stopped ringing, couldn’t hear the other party and so on. I decided to transfer the number from that phone to a differnt tracfone I had, but hadnn’t used in over a year. emailed tech several times for help with the transfer and even called on the phone. And I got responses that had nothing to do with my problem and when I called on the phone, I had to deal with a foreigner whose english was not good. he could barely understand me, and I could barely understand him. it took an entire hour just for him to figure this thing out, then tell me that he couldn’t find a problem with my phone and that I probably need to replace it, which is what I already told him.

        All I wanted to do was transfer my number to a new phone, which he couldn’t do. what? Said my new phone had a problem with the sim card because it read “unregistered sim”. huh? doesn’t this mean I just need to activate the newer phone? Nope, he said he would send me a new sim card. Well, I got the new sim card in the mail, and you guess right, it too read “unregistered sim”. this is crazy.

        There was nothing wrong with the other new phone, just something wrong with the rep I was dealing with.

        I just purchased a new phone, activated it and moved on.

        • earl

          11 April, 2012 at 5:24 pm

          one of my TC phone time ran out and i bought a 60min card from K-MART but when i install the code,my phone will noy activate.

    30. Philip Ashley

      2 December, 2011 at 11:03 am

      Very poor service after buying from HSN, phone returned.  Unable to activate phone, no “person”, to talk to. Machine responses do not ask questions pertaining to the problem. Tried to contact both Tracfone and HSN, multiple times, but unable to speak with customer relations of either company.  Would not recommend.

    31. Debbie

      27 November, 2011 at 11:12 am

      This is all very sad and very wrong.  I bought my TracFone 6 months ago and still cannot get minutes.  Do not even have a telephone number.  Bought from HSN on the t.v.  I was suppose to have 1 year to activate but I am not going to make it at this rate.  Cannot even return as it is past 30 days.  Guess this is not such a good phone.  Certainly do not recommend to anyone.

    32. ana nelson

      21 November, 2011 at 5:14 am

      I will like to know what I have to do to activate my phone I tried by the webpage but is under construction.  What can I do now?

    33. ana nelson

      21 November, 2011 at 5:12 am

      I  receive my  new cell phone because the other one was stolen.  I will like to activate but the the webpage is under construction, ?What I have to do?


      7 November, 2011 at 5:46 am


    35. RichFromRoch

      28 September, 2011 at 6:53 pm

      I had to transfer my number and about 800 minutes to a new device due to a lost phone. IIt took several tries by the tech support person to access my records, but he finally made the transfer to the new phone and processed the activation. He said it could take up to 24 houra. Well, I kept checking the phone…and checking…and checking. Finally, the next afternoon I decided to call back tech support. I picked up the phone to check numbers, and presto! It was activated and it only took 23 hours! So sometimes the Tracfone process work, albeit at a snail’s pace.o
      Rochester, NY

    36. Scott

      27 September, 2011 at 3:17 am

      If you purchase a Tracfone from a National retailer, and then sell it to someone in another state, will the activation process be compromised? I remember entering my zip code for a # assignment, but just wondering if it will affect activation?

    37. nchall

      7 August, 2011 at 1:30 pm

      need help with replacement phone  It will not let me text and my old minutes have not been added  I have spent over3 hours on land lime trying to get my tracphone working  Thank you

    38. Terry

      28 July, 2011 at 4:09 pm

      My new tracfone will not activate. Its an LG22oc. My phone is charged. I’ve been on line and by land phone trying to activate it. I’ve put in my serial # and went thru the steps of putting in pin # on minutes card.  So whats the deal? How can I get help with this???

    39. John

      5 July, 2011 at 6:44 pm

      tracfone worked fine for 5 years…then suddenly said uregistered sim card.  Tracfone sent new sim card which changed my # to a new unwanted #.  When tracfone tried to re-install my old # sim card said “uregistered” again and phone would not work again.  Tracfone sent me two more sim cards with same result…”unregistered sim card” “no service”.  So now after 3 weeks w/no phone they are sending replacement phone which will take another week….pathetic.

    40. Patricia Hahn

      26 June, 2011 at 3:29 am

      I cannot connect to hear my phones messages, can you please help me understand what to do.?? I press 1 to set it up and will not let me do it.

    41. Mohammed Tahiiru Al Waiziya

      13 April, 2011 at 7:48 pm

      pls sir/madam,
      how do i create my operating system into my phone

    42. edwin aviles

      25 March, 2011 at 2:31 am

      no puedo activar mi celular

      • Will.Spencer

        25 March, 2011 at 8:58 am

        What have you done thus far?

    43. Raymond Mickey Woodcock

      13 March, 2011 at 1:01 am

      need help with new tracfone.com

      • Will.Spencer

        25 March, 2011 at 8:59 am

        Exactly what help do you need?

    44. Joan T

      11 March, 2011 at 2:49 pm

      I just purchased a new tracfone, LC290C.  I have been trying to activate the phone and transfering the number and minutes from my old phone.  The transfer seemed to work but I can’t complete the activation.  Tracfone support keeps telling me the activation is complete but I can not send or recieve messages or calls.  And when I try to dial *22890, it tells me I can not complete the call as dialed or that I will need a calling card or credit card to make a call, even though I have almost 200 min on the phone.  This has been going on for 6 days and countless hours.  Can anyone give me some advice, short of giving up?

      • teresa

        13 March, 2011 at 4:06 am

        hit ur menu button, go to prepaid, go to add airtime.
        then type

      • LJ Shircliff

        14 August, 2016 at 6:17 pm

        I’ve got the exact same problem. Do you remember what you ended up doing?

    45. Jane Casa

      1 February, 2011 at 7:17 pm

      I will be going to Mexico and Cuba in April and May.  Will my tracphone work there?

    46. Daniel Memenode

      13 August, 2010 at 7:22 pm

      Irma, I think that shouldn’t be a problem from what I’ve read. If you’re gonna ask them though they should be able to confirm this.


      13 August, 2010 at 5:45 pm

      I have been approved for a free tracfon from the state of Florida can I use this old phone by putting in the sim card once I rec it & have the # they given me trans to this phone? will have to contact them when I rec. the phone they r sending me to ask this question & to ask for assistance to do this or call tracfone for help.

      thanks for information

    48. froz

      12 August, 2010 at 10:11 pm

      tracfone sucks. i lost 20$ trying to make it work. they can kiss my ass for all i care.

    49. Carl

      30 July, 2010 at 2:20 am

      Does this account for reactivation too? My phone stopped working because it was disabled and now I have to reactivate it. Please do help by telling me if it’s the same thing.

      • alfred

        3 July, 2011 at 7:29 pm

        i need to reactivate my phone how?

        • Marlon Franco

          4 July, 2011 at 5:10 am

          have you followed the steps above? Please do so, and let us know, the problems that you have encountered.

          • SANDRA

            18 August, 2017 at 12:52 am


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