Many questions from a newbie

newblurt

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Apr 12, 2024
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I'm sorry because I'm about to ask a bunch of newbie questions that have been asked a hundred times before. I've probably searched these questions on here a dozen times, but I have a bit of a learning disability that can make it difficult to process conflicting information. It all ends up being very jumbled in my head. I learn better when I ask specific questions about my situation.

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My mother and I both use tracfone. She has tons of service already built up, but she needs a new phone. I want to surprise her and buy her a new phone via HSN TF bundle, but I want to keep the year's worth of service for myself since she doesn't need it. Please let me know if I understand the process correctly. --- So, I'd activate the new phone using "Keep My Number" and transfer my number to the new phone which will combine the service period and minutes, etc. Then I'd transfer it all back to my original phone the next day. Then I'd transfer my mother's number and service to the new phone by using the same "keep my number" option. Do I have that right?

If so, I have a few more things that need clarifying. Does it matter that I'm on an unlimited talk/text plan, and the new phone I'm merging with would be on a 1500/1500 plan? Also, do I need a new sim card for my original phone when I transfer my service back to it? Do I need a new sim card for the brand new phone when my mother transfers her number to it after I'm done with all that? Should I use the app, the website, or chat to do the process?

A couple of other questions while I'm thinking of them. Does that GSM CDMA stuff matter anymore? Can I activate my TF service on say, an unlocked TextNow or Cricket phone, for example? When I'm looking at used phones on Swappa and eBay to use with my TF, are all unlocked phones good to go, or am I stuck with Verizon and TF phones? Will TF service transfer to any Verizon-locked phone? If I buy a Total Wireless or Straight Talk phone bundle, can my TF number and service be transferred to it?

Again, sorry for the repeat questions, and thanks in advance for the help! This is my first phone on my own, and I want to make sure I understand everything completely.
 
1. You have the process correct for "harvesting" the bundled service from an HSN phone to your own phone, then use the new phone for your mother. You can re-use the SIM that came with the HSN phone to transfer the service from your mother's phone to it. You didn't say whether your phone is TF-brannded or BYOP. If your phone is TF-branded, you can reuse its SIM to transfer service from the HSN phone back to your phone.

2. Combining Unlimited with "buckets" can be messy. Ideally, the buckets are set aside in reserve, and used when your Unlimited service expire. However, as with TF, things don't always work as they should, especially with Data balance. I'll let other members who use Unlimited service to advise you on that. HSN has a few TF bundles with Unlimited service, but those are the more expensive models (Pixel 6a, Samsung A54).

3. If you're well-versed in using TF web site, you can do all the activation, transferring on TF web site yourself. Else, use Chat so you can copy the Chat transcript from the Chat box and save it to a text file on your computer for record. Don't call, because you'll have to deal with the rep's heavy accent and poor connection.

4. Technically, GSM and CDMA are old terms because VoLTE is now used for voice calls. However, there are still phones branded by some providers that don't have the correct LTE bands to use with another provider. For example: Cricket use AT&T, so Cricket-branded phones probably don't have the LTE bands needed to use with Verizon. Likely the same with T-mobile-branded phones. All iPhones and most factory-unlocked Android phones made for US market are accepted by TF/Verizon. If you can get the IMEI of a phone from the seller before buying it, you can use the TF BYOP IMEI Checker to see if it's compatible with TF.

5. If you buy a Total Wireless or Straight Talk phone, you'll need to have a rep "re-brand" it as a TF phone in order to use it with your TF service and get it unlocked later (if that's important to you).
 
Get a few virgin TF SIM kits to keep on hand just in case, they are cheap.

TF offers TMO based service too if you end up wanting to use an unlocked phone that won't work (well) with VZW
 
Thank you for the info.

Yes, my phone is also a TF branded phone I bought from QVC last year. I mostly use the phone on Wi-Fi so my main concern is that my coverage gets extended another year, rather than losing minutes or data in the transfer.

Thanks for the tip about asking sellers about the IMEI. Maybe they'd be willing to check the IMEI themselves if asked, if they'd rather not give it to me. I was just a bit confused because on the TF website it says
Compatible phones include: GSM Unlocked phones, AT&T-compatible phones, T-Mobile-compatible phones, Verizon-compatible phones, and some CDMA Technology compatible phones.
which seems like it should cover most carrier-unlocked phones. And then I've heard that some Verizon-locked phones won't work with TF, and I'm wondering how a person is supposed to be able to easily know what phone is compatible.
 
Get a few virgin TF SIM kits to keep on hand just in case, they are cheap.

Thanks, I actually just bought a couple of them yesterday.

TF offers TMO based service too if you end up wanting to use an unlocked phone that won't work (well) with VZW
Just curious, but what would the process of doing something like that look like?
 
I was just a bit confused because on the TF website it says "Compatible phones include: GSM Unlocked phones, AT&T-compatible phones, T-Mobile-compatible phones, Verizon-compatible phones, and some CDMA Technology compatible phones" which seems like it should cover most carrier-unlocked phones. And then I've heard that some Verizon-locked phones won't work with TF, and I'm wondering how a person is supposed to be able to easily know what phone is compatible.

TF don't update info on their web site often. Some of what you quoted is outdated. TF used to provide service with AT&T, T-mo, and Verizon. After Verizon bought TF in November 2021, they announced that people can continue using their existing service through Nov 2024, but TF has made a lot of effort to push people toward using Verizon. Initially, they removed the TF/AT&T SIM and TF/T-mo SIM from the TF BYOP SIM Kit. But within the last 4-6 months they added the TF/T-mo SIM back into the BYOP SIM kit. So the part about using an AT&T Compatible phone no longer applies. The part about CDMA Compatible phones also no longer applies because CDMA refers to old 2G/3G technology and a phone now must be VoLTE-capable (basically 4G voice) to use with TF.

The best way to know is to run the IMEI through the TF BYOP IMEI Checker yourself or provide the link to the seller and as them to run it.

If you want to switch your service from TF/Verizon to TF/T-mo, use the TF/T-mo SIM in the TF BYOP SIM kit with a T-mo compatible phone and activate it with a transfer from your current phone on TF/Verizon.
 
And then I've heard that some Verizon-locked phones won't work with TF, and I'm wondering how a person is supposed to be able to easily know what phone is compatible.
Verizon Locked is not a problem if you get a TF/Verizon SIM. I'm currently using a Verizon locked Verizon branded Samsung phone with TF/VZW. But any phone could be blacklisted for being stolen or for non-payment. But that is true on any phone.
 
Just because a phone is AT&T compatible, does not mean it won't work with a TMO SIM, just needs to be unlocked.

Many will also work just fine on VZW too, but those tend to be the more expensive models.
 
Not sure what you mean?

Insert a TMO BYOP SIM instead of a VZW one when you activate

I think I was confused because when I bought my SIM kits from TF's website, I was only shown one available option to purchase so I thought it must work universally. I'm not sure which version I bought now.
 
Such a kit should have both SIMs included, one for each network option.

Nothing in this industry is "universal"
 
I think I was confused because when I bought my SIM kits from TF's website, I was only shown one available option to purchase so I thought it must work universally. I'm not sure which version I bought now.

Open the kit and see how many "credit-card size" cards are in it? If there's only one, that's the TF/Verizon SIM. An old kit has 3 cards: AT&T, T-mo, Verizon. A recent kit has two cards: T-mo and Verizon.

You can also look at the first 6 digits (read from left to right) of the SIM number (20 digits long). The first 6 digits of a TF SIM number (ICCID) identify which carrier it's for:
* 890141: AT&T
* 890126: T-mobile
* 891480: Verizon
 
So I've run into a bit of a problem. I got the new phone yesterday, and I used the TF website to transfer service. I can see my service period is extended a year as it should be when the accounts are merged (though my data hasn't combined), and the new phone's IMEI is associated with the service, but my phone didn't activate. It's listed as INACTIVE in my dashboard. My old phone obviously has no service anymore, so I can't receive the code via text message that is required to do anything on the new phone. I'm prompted to contact support through their 800# during business hours to sort it out.

I did nothing on my actual phone as far as activation, I just went through the steps on the website.

Is it clear what I did wrong? I want to be able to transfer back to my old phone, and move my mother's service onto the new one without any more issues. Thanks.
 
IMO you must ACTUALLY activate the new bundle phone, by turning it on, waiting a while, reboot hourly, reset the network etc

until you see your line's phone number in About

Test Voice, then Texts both in and out, then data.

Once everything is working, hopefully your bucket balances get updated.

You did take screenshots?

Do not move the line back to your old phone or to any other until that is the case

Call in or Chat only if necessary, personally I'd give it a full day or two first.
 
Ah ok, I'll keep trying the rebooting and resetting the network for a day. It's been about 7 hours since I transferred, and yes I've got screenshots. So what I've experienced isn't out of the ordinary or necessarily indicative that I messed up?
 
Many people activate service on the website like that and it usually works fine.

I've always used the chat to do it and almost always by the end of the chat the line has transferred to the new phone and the new phone has activated and confirmed by me to work (phone number listed in about in new phone, calls, text and data work) and also the buckets have transferred over and combined (or paygo buckets go in reserve) in the case of transferring service to a bundle phone.

Usually during the chat you have both phones on and the rep will ask you to turn off the receving new phone you are trying to activate for a minute or two and then have you turn it back on wth the goal of activating the new phone. You may have to do this a few times. Sometimes they will also request you to turn the old phone off while attempting to activate the new phone.

Sometimes a rep may suggest turning off phone and removing sim and then turn phone back on and then turn off again and replace sim and turn on again to help trigger activation. Or some variation on that.

It's good that you have screenshots. 7 hours is kind of long - I don't know if the time done may play a role in that.

If phone continues to not activate/plan doesn't transfer you can do a chat or if you call in you can use the TF corp number which is:

1-800-626-4883 x3324 .

You might get a better rep on a Monday with that number but then again I have had big problems solved on a sunday in the past with it.

(added: Somtimes that number doesn't work. In that case try again later.)

Hopefully though it will activate soon with a little more time and some phone restarts etc.
 
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Ah ok, I'll keep trying the rebooting and resetting the network for a day. It's been about 7 hours since I transferred, and yes I've got screenshots. So what I've experienced isn't out of the ordinary or necessarily indicative that I messed up?
Do your old and new phone use the same carrier through TF? Can you check the first 6 digits of the SIM number of each phone to make sure they're the same? If they're the same, the ACTIVATE WITH A TRANSFER should be completed instantly. If they're different, then you're doing a cross-carrier transfer which takes longer, especially on non-business day because there's some manual intervention involved.
 
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