How To Activate a Used Cell Phone

Girl with mobile phone

Cell phones are expensive. Sure the first one you get when you sign up for a plan with a cellular service provider is usually affordable but anything you get after that will cost you. The problem is that cell phones do get broken or lost. Now you are stuck paying big bucks for a phone that you might need for only 6 months until your contract is up and you can get another new phone at the cut rate. That is where used cell phones come in.

To activate your used cell phone:

  1. Now even though this article is about activating used cell phones, I think it's important to review a few things about your cell phone first. Make sure your used cell phone is compatible with your network. This is the most important thing when it comes to the success of your activation.

    The easiest way to make sure everyone is compatible is to call the wireless provider with the phone's electronic serial number (ESN). The reason this is easy and actually sometimes required is that the cell company wants to make sure there are no outstanding balances on the previous owner's account. Now if you have purchased an unlocked cell phone (this is a phone with no allegiances to any provider), you may be able to switch the SIM card from your old or broken phone (Cingular and T-Mobile for instance) into your new/used phone.

    Some companies won't let you activate a used cell phone so it may be in your best interest to ask before even buying one. There are some resources on the Internet but why beat around the bush? Talk to an official customer service representative of your cell company and get the scoop. Another thing to be wary of is the new FCC rule that says that all phones must be GPS enabled for 911 operators to be able to locate callers in an emergency. Some older Verizon phones cannot comply with this new rule so beware when shopping for used mobile phones, especially the LG VX1 and VX10, and the Kyocera 7135.

  2. Alright then, you know your phone is good to go with your cell provider so it's time to activate your phone. If you have an unlocked phone that uses SIM cards and you have a SIM card from your old phone, it may be as simple as taking the card and placing it in the used phone. You can try this without contacting your cell provider. If it works then you are golden, if not, call the cell phone service center.

    Call your cell company with another (cell or home) phone. Tell them you want to activate your used phone with your account. They will ask you a few questions about your phone so be ready with the make, model and serial number to speed things up. They will contact your used phone through their network and get it ready for you. They will then have you do a series of things using your used phone that will initialize and activate it. Some companies may offer online activation but you cannot beat the personal touch of a person to person conversation.

  3. If you are using a used cell phone but starting a new account, you can just call the service provider you want to go with and tell them your intentions. They will walk you through activation step by step and set up your new account all at once.  So the key is communication. Choosing the right used phone and activating it go hand and hand. Both are made a lot easier by direct communication with your cell provider.


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