Thursday, February 24, 2011

Changing Your Tracfone Number: My Experience

The Plug
I'm a proponent of prepaid cellular because I'm just not that attached to my phone. It's not an emergency-only phone. I'm just not much of a "chit-chatter", so 900 minutes can last me a whole year (costs $120) and there aren't any other phone plans that can beat that yet. My husband uses double the amount of minutes I do and it's still a great deal we haven't been able to find elsewhere.

There are some down-sides to Tracfone. For one, there are some really spiffy phones out there that Tracfone just doesn't offer... yet. (I'm sure they'll be offering android phones eventually.) For another, customer service is all overseas, so if you don't understand people with accents, you'll be in a bind.

Changing the Number
This Monday I began the days long effort of changing my husband's Tracfone number. We're in the process of moving and wanted him to have a local number to keep from having a roaming rate eat his minutes. Tracfones are pretty inexpensive and even free with an airtime card, so why would we bother changing the number on his 4-year old phone (from the ice age, really)? It gets an analog signal, and there aren't a lot of phones anymore that pick that up. Case in point: when we are driving in the wastelands of the West, my husband's phone can pick up an analog signal to make calls with and my phone, just a few months old, cannot. We like that analog capability, so we want to stick with it for as long as it works.

On my first phone call to customer service, I used my husband's phone, thinking that that might help with the change. Shouldn't have bothered doing that. I used 15 minutes and really didn't need the phone to do it. So, start smart, use a landline. On my first call, I told them what zip code I wanted my number changed to, the costumer service rep gave me a number to dial as soon as I was off the phone that would make the change. Easy. I dialed the number and was told to hold while they updated my phone. I heard a loud beep for a few minutes and then it stopped. I was supposed to wait an hour for changes to take place. I waited 24 hours just to be sure. Nothing. No new number, but now my husband's old number no longer worked, so he couldn't make calls.

Tuesday I called costumer service again. (They are very nice.) They had me push a bunch of codes into the phone on the prepaid menu under code entry and then said to wait again for an hour for the changes to take place. I had to wonder if the rep just wanted to get rid of my because he couldn't solve my problem.

Called again on Wednesday. I spent a long time (30 minutes) on the phone entering different codes into the phone. Then I was told that my phone had an error on it and it would take 24 hours to clear. So, call tomorrow. They gave me a ticket number that I was to refer to when I called back.

Called on Thursday. I gave the rep my ticket number right away. I think that helped, because she seemed to know what was going on and what had already been tried. She didn't ask me to punch in codes I'd already done a handful of times. She had me punch in one code and then my phone automatically shut off and turned back on and it had a new number on it! Yippee! It took a long time, but it's done. And we can keep our old Tracfone.


  1. I recently moved up to Iowa and had to change my phone number as well and have found Google Voice to be a handy backup. I can give that number out as my "backup number" and have it routed to any phone number that's needed. Lifehacker recently had a post about using Google Voice to the max. I haven't read it yet but feel confident in recommending anything lifehacker.

  2. James, you bring up a good point. I have a Google voice number, but hadn't thought of using it. And I agree, Lifehacker posts are quality.

  3. Glad things worked out for you.

    I've seen complaints about their customer service, but have had only good experiences.

    I also see that they have a page on Facebook that's monitored by their agents, which is a very smart way to add value to their service, since so many of us are on Facebook these days.


  4. Lucky you. I just received my new sim card and went through 45 minutes of customer service nonsense only to have the new number turn out to be the same area code as the original. Another 10 minutes on hold then 20 minutes of customer service and now they're going to send me yet another new sim card.

    I spent more in minutes than I paid for the original phone ($9.99)! Tomorrow I'm switching to something other than Tracfone! If anyone needs to contact Tracfone customer service -- use a land-line!

    1. I echo your advice: Use a landline when calling customer service! I have also heard nightmare tracfone stories of changing numbers, so I don't doubt that it happens. For me, though, the prices can't be beat so I continue to use prepaid cellular. I think the key is, if you are on the phone with someone who you can tell doesn't understand you, polity tell them you will call again later. This usually helps me.

  5. Is there a way to transfer minutes from an old TracFone to a new one without also transferring the old phone number?

  6. I'm probably WAY late in responding... Yes, you can transfer your minutes to a new tracfone and get a new number. You can do it either through tracfone's website or call customer service and have them walk you through it.


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