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Thread: What to Do With an Old Tracfone?

  1. #1
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    What to Do With an Old Tracfone?

    My mom has a Tracfone that she carried only for emergencies since her only phone was a land line. It was cheaper than a basic monthly account on the major carriers. But she rarely used it, and it accumulated 2,100 minutes. She passed away in January and several weeks ago the phone went inactive for service days.

    So now the dilemma. Do I just throw it away or do I sell it? The phone device is an old Alcatel "Big Easy". Am I correct in that in order to sell it I would have to re-activate it by buying the smallest denomination of minutes? The phone is deactivated right now. How long do I have before losing the minutes? If I did spend $20 to reactivate would a 3G basic phone with a huge number of minutes have any value? I don't know if its worth the effort and I'd have to get more than $20 plus selling fees in order to not lose money. I looked on ebay and don't see any phones like this being sold. And I read somewhere that 3G will be going away soon.

    What about if I reactivated and upgraded the device to a new current one of course transferring the minutes to it, and then sold that?

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    1. You have 60 days from deactivation to restore the balance by re-activating the phone. The Alcatel Big Easy is a "dumb" phone, so you can reactivate it with a Basic $9.99 "card", available only online at TF web site.
    2. A person can buy 500 minutes for $10 anytime on TF web site. So the "book value" of 2,100 minutes is about $40. To sell it, you probably have to sell it for half-price, which is about $20. Taking into account the cost of the time card to reactive it, and the fees to sell it, it's not worth the effort.
    3. Reactivate, upgrade the phone, then sell it is a bad idea. Whenever you sell something easily obtainable at many places, you'll have to sell it for less than what it costs at a store. You'll end up losing money.
    4. If you use Tracfone service yourself, reactivate the Alcatel phone then ask a TF rep to combine its balance to your own phone.

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    Sorry about your mom.

    What @hpham said.

    Basically, anything marketing-wise will lose you money. The phone is basically outdated, it will not offer buckets of texts or data. When transferring to a smartphone, only the talk bucket will get anything, as I understand it. So transferring to a more-marketable smartphone will not offer any appeal.

    You hardly see any ebay phones with residual airtime. It can be dangerous to buy these phones, because you don't know if the airtime is "legitimate" or bought with stolen credit cards. Tracfone can yank the minutes. Also, the phones might be stolen, sometimes from Safelink. So not too appealing.

    People generally want an empty phone without baggage.

    If you are willing to spend $10 to reactivate the phone and then transfer the airtime to your phone's talk bucket, that is fine. Or donate the phone to someone who is willing to take it on.

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    Well using it for myself is not really an option because I have a regular contract AT&T service on my smartphone so I have no use for this Tracfone. I learned something new...I never knew the dangers or downside to selling a phone with residual airtime. I also never knew about cheaper ways to keep the service active when mom was alive. She always bought the 90 day/60 minute card at the store for $20.

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    Recycle it please.

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    The $10 option is only 30 days/30 minutes. So it has limited appeal.

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    At least give it to someone needy and willing and able to add minimal reactivation airtime and enough days to use up the airtime. It will be usable until 3G GSM is shut down by the Tracfone provider (AT&T or T-Mobile).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lisme View Post
    The phone is basically outdated, it will not offer buckets of texts or data. When transferring to a smartphone, only the talk bucket will get anything, as I understand it. So transferring to a more-marketable smartphone will not offer any appeal.
    Perhaps things have changed since I upgraded my old Nokia 2600 to a BYOD smartphone years ago, but IRCC I not only got the minutes transferred, but the new text and data buckets set with an equivalent amount of texts and MBs each (unless this only happened to those old phones that had the units count in the device itself, I don't know).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jairzinho View Post
    Perhaps things have changed since I upgraded my old Nokia 2600 to a BYOD smartphone years ago, but IRCC I not only got the minutes transferred, but the new text and data buckets set with an equivalent amount of texts and MBs each (unless this only happened to those old phones that had the units count in the device itself, I don't know).
    One bucket used to morph into three buckets. That lasted until TF got tired of the cost, probably.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jairzinho View Post
    Perhaps things have changed since I upgraded my old Nokia 2600 to a BYOD smartphone years ago, but IRCC I not only got the minutes transferred, but the new text and data buckets set with an equivalent amount of texts and MBs each (unless this only happened to those old phones that had the units count in the device itself, I don't know).
    When TF first came out with smartphones in the Fall of 2013, when transferring from a single-bucket phone to a smartphone, the amount of minutes got placed into each bucket (example: 130 minutes in a single-bucket phone became 130/130/130 in the receiving smartphone). It stayed that way until a few years ago when I stated reading posts saying that the minutes in the single-bucket phone only got placed into the talk bucket of the receiving smartphone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tracfancier View Post
    At least give it to someone needy and willing and able to add minimal reactivation airtime and enough days to use up the airtime. It will be usable until 3G GSM is shut down by the Tracfone provider (AT&T or T-Mobile).
    Where is the best place to donate a phone like this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hpham View Post
    When TF first came out with smartphones in the Fall of 2013, when transferring from a single-bucket phone to a smartphone, the amount of minutes got placed into each bucket (example: 130 minutes in a single-bucket phone became 130/130/130 in the receiving smartphone). It stayed that way until a few years ago when I stated reading posts saying that the minutes in the single-bucket phone only got placed into the talk bucket of the receiving smartphone.
    Wow, that's pretty crappy. I have a single bucket phone I need to convert to triple bucket

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    Quote Originally Posted by BML_256 View Post
    Where is the best place to donate a phone like this?
    YWCA/Shelters for Battered Women, Homeless Shelters. Make sure to include the charger. Some of the old phones used a different cable end than the current micro-USB B and USB C-type.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YaWho View Post
    Wow, that's pretty crappy. I have a single bucket phone I need to convert to triple bucket
    It's Tracfone, so no guarantees.... but within the last year, a friend gave me a single-bucket phone with maybe 1500 minutes and a month or so of time. I added that phone, as is, to my account. Then transferred service on that line to a smartphone, and received 1500 in each bucket (1500 minutes, 1500 text, 1500mb.). I asked customer service (via chat) a week or so before doing it, and they said it would work that way: and it did.

    After converting to a smartphone, I merged/combined the units with my main line in the same account.

    Note that for this process to work, if the donor single-bucket phone was attached to an online account, you would either need the login credentials to the existing account, or the assistance of the account holder to remove the phone from their account before it could be added to yours.
    My Tello referral code is P3BSR5HV, and gets both of us 10 Tello Dollars to pay for a plan.
    https://tello.com/account/register?_referral=P3BSR5HV

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    @greenhandle:

    Did the phone you transferred to by chance have one of the no-longer-issued TMFL SIM cards for BYOP devices? That might've been a factor that doesn't much exist anymore in the other examples provided.

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