How To Activate a Used Cellphone

Cell phones are one of the most popular modern conveniences these days, and many people feel they simply can't live without one.  They allow you to stay connected to work, friends and family, and everyone in between, and have a multitude of functions.  You can do everything from check stocks to bank online, even Facebook, with some phones.  However, they're not indestructible, and can break, making for a costly repair or replacement.  For this reason, many people choose to replace their equipment with a used model.  Even if you haven't previously had service on a used cell phone and want to know how to get it now, activating a used phone can be easy.

  1. First, you'll need to find a phone that can be used with the cellular company of your choice; phones rarely operate on different networks.  So, if you have Sprint or Verizon service, for example, you'll need to find a phone manufactured directly for that company.  Online auction sites are a popular place to look for phones, and there are some retail stores that sell refurbished phones for general use.
  2. Once you have the phone you'll be using, activation is simple.  If you have current cellular service through a provider, then you'll need to let them know you have new equipment; this can be done by either phone or through a provider's store.  Every cell phone comes with an electronic serial number (ESN) that identifies it as being unique.  Once that ESN is added to your account, the representative can either program your phone for you if you're in a store, or give you directions on how to do it, if you're calling customer service.  After the phone is programmed properly, your service should be active for that phone.  After all, service never stopped working - only your equipment did.
  3. If you've never had service before, you'll need to decide what type of service you would like, and from what provider.  Take the phone with you to the store of your choice, as this will most likely need to be done in person.  Let them help you choose the plan that's best for you, and show them the used phone, explaining you'd like service active on it.  They'll then choose a number for that phone, and program the ESN in the database under your account.  After a usually brief delay, the phone should be active and ready for use.

Activation for a used cell phone is rarely different than activation for a new one, but you've saved yourself some equipment costs and proven to be a savvy shopper.  In the future, if you choose to purchase a used or refurbished phone, you'll know the steps that are needed to get it working for your cellular service.


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