Do you want to use an iPhone with Tracfone Wireless? Well you can and in this article I’ll explain what you need to know.
Tracfone Wireless offers affordable cellular service for customers with modest needs for a cell phone service. Many people would love to take advantages of all the benefits of using an iPhone without having to pay $600 or more per year for cell phone service. With Tracfone, you can have an iPhone or other smartphone with active service for as little as $125 per year or just under $11 per month. This a great option for someone that wants to use an iPhone but doesn’t talk on the phone much and plan to use your iPhone with Wi-Fi to for Internet Service.
If you want to use an iPhone with Tracfone you’ll have a choice to buy and iPhone directly from Tracfone or you can Bring Your Own iPhone to Tracfone.
Buying an iPhone from Tracfone
Tracfone sells as limited number of iPhone models. They usually do not offer the latest model iPhones instead opting to sell less expensive models from previous years. Sometimes you can get a really good deal on an iPhone directly from Tracfone, See my Tracfone Deals Page to see the latest deals and offers available.
Bring Your Own iPhone
Do you want to sign up for Tracfone and use it with your own iPhone? Well, you can and in this article I’ll explain what you need to know.
I’m writing this article in April 2019 and as of this time there is a long list of iPhone models that can be used with Tracfone including the iPhone XS Max, iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone SE, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5. Note that as of April 2019 I do not recommend the iPhone 4s, iPhone 4, and earlier models for use with Tracfone and these phones do not support 4G LTE networks.
When you sign up for Tracfone, you’ll have a choice you can buy an iPhone directly from Tracfone or you can Bring Your Own iPhone. Tracfone doesn’t have a wide selection of iPhones available but sometimes you can get a really good deal on an iPhone directly from Tracfone. Sometimes you can buy the same brand new iPhone for less from Tracfone than you could if you bought it directly from Apple and sometimes for less than you would pay for a refurbished or used iPhone online from Amazon, eBay, or Craigslist. Each month I post the latest Tracfone deals here, so check that out if you don’t already have an iPhone to use with Tracfone.
How Tracfone and Bring Your Own iPhone Works
Before trying to bring your own iPhone to Tracfone it’s important to understand how Tracfone works. Tracfone doesn’t have their own cellular network, instead they uses either AT&T’s, Verizon’s, or T-Mobile’s cellular towers. When you use Tracfone, your phone will be on one of these three networks. When you bring your own iPhone to Tracfone you’ll need to buy a Bring Your Own Phone SIM Kit in a retail store or online directly from Tracfone. If you already have your iPhone, you’ll need to buy or use the SIM Kit that is compatible with your phone. Most people that bring their iPhone to Tracfone bought that phone from their previous carrier which is most likely AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint.
If your iPhone was from AT&T or T-Mobile it will work with the Tracfone AT&T or T-Mobile SIM respectively without a problem. If your iPhone is from Verizon, it needs to be eligible to use it with Tracfone’s Verizon SIM. To find out you’ll need to check the phone’s serial number on tracfone.com to see if it can be used. Verizon requires that the serial number of any phone that is activated to use their towers. (its a Verizon thing, same for Sprint, but not AT&T or T-Mobile). If your Verizon iPhone was reported lost or stolen you will not be able to activate it. If your Verizon iPhone is currently under contract on a payment plan it will not be eligible.
This works out well because if you are say an AT&T customer with an AT&T iPhone you can use it with Tracfone’s AT&T SIM. The iPhone is compatible with AT&T, AT&T should have service where you use your phone because you were an AT&T customer, and Tracfone most likely has coverage on the AT&T towers in the same area. The same for Verizon and T-Mobile. Where it gets a little tricky is if your iPhone came from one carrier but you want to use it on different towers with Tracfone. For example, you have an AT&T iPhone but want to use it with Tracfone’s Verizon towers.
Your iPhone Needs To Be Compatible With The Network Or Towers You want to use it with
Your iPhone needs to be compatible with the network or towers you want to use it with. That is, the cellular radios in your iPhone need to be compatible with the cellular technologies and radio frequencies that network uses. Some model iPhones that Apple sold are compatible with all four big cellular networks, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. Some models are only compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile. For example, Apple made one model of the iPhone 6s that works with all four carriers. But they made two different models of the iPhone 7. One that works with AT&T and T-Mobile, the other for Verizon and Sprint (but also works with AT&T and T-Mobile..)
Locked, Unlocked, and SIM-Free iPhones
I get a number of questions about whether or not your iPhone can be locked or unlocked to use it with Tracfone. It depends. If your AT&T iPhone is locked you can still use it with Tracfone’s AT&T SIM card. Same for a T-Mobile SIM iPhone. Verizon iPhones are not locked but you need to check the serial number to make sure it can be used with Tracfone’s Verizon SIM. Ironically because Verizon iPhones are unlocked and compatible with the AT&T and T-Mobile networks you can use the phone with either Tracfone’s AT&T SIM or Tracfone’s T-Mobile SIM.
A locked iPhone is when your wireless carrier set up your phone to prevent it from being used with a SIM card from another wireless company. Sometimes wireless carriers do this to prevent you from taking a phone on a contract or payment plan and using it with another service before you have completed your payments. So even if your iPhone is compatible with another network, it won’t operate with another companies’ SIM card. Most carriers will unlock an iPhone for free after you have met their requirements in their unlocking policy, see Unlocking Your AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon or Sprint iPhone. If you are unsure whether your phone is locked or not you can borrow a SIM from a friends phone (that uses a different carrier) and try it in your phone. If you can make a call with it, the phone is unlocked.
If you want to buy a brand new iPhone that is unlocked and can be used on any of the four networks in the US, Apple sells what they call the “SIM-free” option of each model phone they sell. The phone is unlocked and can be activated on any service that uses the AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, or Sprint networks. No other retailer sells SIM-Free models, except for Best Buy that currently sells only the SIM-Free iPhone X.
If you are a new customer signing up for Tracfone you’ll have a choice of keeping your current phone number or have Tracfone assign you a new one. If you choose to transfer your current home or cellular number to tracfone you’ll need to make check with Tracfone to make sure your number is eligible to be transferred. In addition to your phone number you’ll need to know your account number and pin for with your current phone company. Your account number may or may not be your phone number. Your account PIN is a password set on your account to prevent someone else from transferring your phone number without your permission. Note this isn’t the PIN code you may have set to unlokc your phone.
If you are currently a Tracfone customer you can transfer your current phone number and existing balance of minutes, text, MBs, and service days to your new iPhone. Note that when you transfer service to a new phone your new phone may not be eligible for some plan features such as triple minute plans and one year service days add-ons. As of 2019 most tracfone smartphones are not eligible for such features.
Tracfone’s One Year Plan
Note that all Tracfone smartphone plans include a fixed amount of minutes for calls, messages for texts, megabytes (MBs) for data (internet), and service days. The $125 plan describes above comes with 365 days of service, and 1500 minutes of talk, 1500 text messages, and 1500 Mb of data (1,5GB). So while your account will remain active for one year if you use up your minutes, messages, or data you’ll need to buy more.
Tracfone’s Networks or Tower
Tracfone does not have their own cellular network. Instead they use AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile’s towers. If you buy an iPhone directly from Tracfone it will probabally use Verizon’s towers. Before you buy your phone, you can ask their customer service agents which towers the phone will use. Tell them the model phone you want to buy and the zip code where you want to use the phone.
If you are going to bring your own iPhone to Tracfone, you’ll have the choice of using their AT&T, Verizon, or T-mobile SIM card. Pick the network that works best in your area and one that your iPhone is compatible with. If you want to use their Verizon towers, you’ll need to make check the serial number of your phone with Tracfone to make sure it that it is eligible to be registered on their Verizon networks. Some model iPhones are compatible with more than one carrier. If your iPhone is locked to AT&T or T-Mobile it should still work with Tracfone’s AT&T or T-Mobile SIM respectively. If your iPhone is unlocked, you may have a choice of which network to use. At some point, I’ll post and article with more information about the different iPhone models and their compatibility. Leave reply below if you are interested in seeing that.
I updated this article for 2019 as I noticed that it was still popular. If you are interested in some of my earlier articles and videos about using the iPhone or another smartphone with Tracfone see the links below.
Tracfone Bring Your Own Smartphone SIM Activation Kit at Kmart and Walmart
Opening a Tracfone Bring Your Own Smartphone SIM Activation Kit