How to Set Up a Tracfone: From Purchase to Use

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How to Set Up a Tracfone: From Purchase to Use
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How to Set Up a Tracfone: From Purchase to Use

For many people, it seems that life would be so much more complicated without their cell phones. But for others, they may simply choose not to use a cell phone, as they have little or no use for one. For those who infrequently use cell phones, it seems a bit pointless to pay a monthly cell phone bill for something they rarely use.

However, TracFone offers cheap phones that come with the ability to load a prepaid minute card to a user's account, meaning a person only pays for what he or she needs. Since the phones by TracFone generally target consumers who rarely or infrequently use cell phones, setting up the phones can be a bit tricky for some. Fortunately, they are not too hard to set up, and are consequently a good choice for anyone looking for a simple and inexpensive cell phone.

About TracFone

TracFone is a company that specializes in low-cost cell phones and cheap airtime. It uses a prepaid airtime minute system that allows a customer to avoid paying a monthly bill, and allows users to purchase minute reloads online, through the phone, or at retail stores via prepaid minute cards. With the airtime provided through TracFone, consumers can make not only local calls, but also long-distance calls within the country, as well as international calls, all for the same rate. Also, with TracFone being among the top six largest cell phone providers in the United States, the company provides reliable coverage, as the company operates on the same towers as other major cell phone service providers do, and covers 99.6 percent of the cell phone population area.

The phones available for use with the TracFone service are typically made by Nokia and Motorola, and come in many different styles and price ranges. This includes the candy Bar style phones, camera phones, flip phones, sliders, touchscreen phones, and phones featuring the QWERTY-style keyboard (similar to the layout of a personal computer keyboard).

Setting Up a TracFone

Setting up a TracFone is fairly simple, but may require a computer with Internet access. The process of setting up the phone completely requires activating the phone itself, adding minutes to the phone, and setting up a voicemail for the phone.

1. Activating the Phone

The first step in setting up a TracFone is to activate it. This is done through the company's website, by contacting customer care, or even through the use of the "Over the Air" feature, which downloads the activation codes to the phone via radio waves emitted from a local cell phone tower utilized by TracFone. First, take the back of the phone off, take out the battery, and add the SIM card to the phone. Put the battery back in the phone, and let it charge for an hour or two. Keep in mind that the activation process may slightly differ with different models of phones.

TracFone assigns the activation code numbers based on the zip code provided by the customer, and it may take between a few hours to a day for the phone to be activated. Additionally, the company allows the transfer of an existing phone number from another service provider, but may take up to two weeks to complete.

2. Adding Minutes to the Phone

There are three different ways to add airtime minutes to the TracFone. The first method is through the use of prepaid minute cards, which are available in many different retail stores both online and offline all over the country. With this method, simply purchase the card, scratch off the silver area on the back, and navigate through the phone's menu to "redeem airtime." Next, enter the code found on the card. The second method is to add time via an online purchase, where a customer can add minutes through the TracFone website. The third and final method is to add minutes straight from the phone through the "Airtime on Demand" feature.

Keep in mind that when adding airtime minutes through the phone or prepaid cards, a signal for the phone is required, otherwise the minutes may not be added to the phone. Typically, after adding minutes, the phone requires the user to shut the phone off, and then turn it back on again.

3. Setting Up Voicemail

Setting up the voicemail on the phone enables those who call and cannot reach a person to leave a recorded message, similar to the answering machines found on some home phones. To set up voicemail on a TracFone, simply press and hold the "1" key on the phone's keypad. This should dial the phone's voicemail number, which prompts the user to choose a language, a voicemail password (PIN), and a greeting style. Depending on the greeting style chosen, further steps may need to be taken, through which the voice prompt provides instructions.

TracFone Monthly No-Contract Plans

In addition to the prepaid airtime minutes offered by TracFone, the company offers no-contract monthly plans, in which minutes are automatically added to a customer's phone. These plans cover a 30-day period, require no activation fees or cancellation fees. They include talk, text, Web browsing, email, and rollover minutes. There are four plans available, including the 50-minute value plan, the 100-minute value plan, the 200-minute value plan, and the family value plan. The family plan starts with 50 minutes a month for the first phone, and 40 minutes per month for each subsequent phone added to the plan.

These plans do not compete with the likes of Verizon and Sprint, but for those who do not frequently use a cell phone, they can prove to be a helpful alternative for people who want a cell phone without an incredibly expensive plan.

Buying a TracFone on eBay

While there are many retail locations across the country that sell TracFones, a person may be limited to the styles of phones that local stores carry. One alternative to shopping in these stores is to shop on eBay, where a variety of these phones are available. Simply enter the keywords "TracFone " in the search bar to find a list of pertinent results. You can further refine your search by entering more specific keywords, or by browsing through the different categories.

When buying on eBay, be sure to read the full product description, as there may be important details about the product that are not included in the pictures or listing titles. Also, be sure to buy from trusted sellers, as they have proven to provide accurate product descriptions, fast and reliable shipping, and good communication with past customers.


For those who infrequently use cell phones, but still desire to have one, it seems pointless to pay for an expensive monthly plan through popular phone companies. For these people, TracFone may be an ideal option, as the company offers the use of prepaid airtime cards, rather than a contract-based monthly plan. This means that the person using the phone pays for exactly what he or she needs, and nothing more. Additionally, TracFone does offer monthly plans that feature no contracts, activation fees, or cancellation fees.

As TracFone targets consumers that infrequently use cell phones, it also offers easy setup on its phones. This is as simple as activating the phone through the company website or over the phone, adding airtime minutes through prepaid cards, its website, or on the phone, and setting up a personal voicemail. By following the above steps, a user can activate his or her TracFone quickly and easily.

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