Are you struggling to unlock a Tracfone smartphone? Carrier locks can be an overwhelming restriction to overcome. It’s okay when some cellular providers implement these locks to prevent subscribers from only paying part of their equipment installment plan. Unfortunately, many wireless operators don’t remove the network lock after an agreed duration. It means getting stuck with the same service provider, even after your contract ends. Interestingly, you can’t use a locked phone with the same network subsidiaries. Therefore, just as you must unlock a boost mobile phone to use it on Sprint Mobile, you must also unlock a straight talk phone to use it on Verizon Wireless.
Currently, Tracfone is a prepaid mobile virtual network operator that works off a SIM card platform. It means you have to buy a prepaid plan to activate on their phone. You probably want to switch to TracFone with one of the unlocked T Mobile phones, but you’re wondering, “What network does Tracfone use?” The MVNO partners with AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, allowing it to use the Big Four infrastructure to provide service to millions of prepaid customers. It means you can access any carrier’s network with a TracFone unlocked iPhone.
However, finding the answer to the question, “what carrier does Tracfone use?” is not as critical as understanding the MVNO unlock policy. Note that TracFone has a network lock on its phones by default. While it is now possible to unlock a Tracfone mobile phone, it’s not the case for all handsets. Some of its older phones are completely non-unlockable. Therefore, you won’t unlock a Tracfone the same way you would unlock a boost mobile phone. If the carrier is unable to unlock Tracfone Samsung for you, the device will qualify for a replacement phone.
How To Unlock A TracFone Device: Everything You Should Know
Customers can now unlock a Tracfone mobile phone and use it with other US based service providers or around the world. Unlocking your TracFone device does not mean that you plan to switch carriers. Owning an unlocked handset provides the flexibility to purchase a SIM card and service with a local carrier when traveling overseas. Once you complete your activities abroad, you can insert the old SIM card back to continue with TracFone’s services.
TracFone is popular for having non-unlockable phones, which affected the millions of its prepaid consumers. For several years, the company denied subscribers the chance to obtain service from competing networks. But following FCC ruling against TracFone in 2016, the carrier customers can use their TracFone devices on other networks if they want to switch providers.
Many of our readers post questions wanting to know how to unlock LG Tracfone. Older LG phones are among the most affected brands with TracFone non-unlockable cellphone system. However, the company recent agreement with the FCC provides remedies for qualifying customers who bought TracFone locked cell phones.
According to the 2016 FCC ruling, TracFone must do the following:
- Unlock handsets after one year of purchase
- Unlock all previously purchased phones
- Give credit for exchanging non-unlockable cell phones.
- Provide partial cash refunds for older models
Going forward, the (FCC) Federal Communications Commission directed TracFone that it only provides consumers with unlockable devices. As an international wireless phone company, TracFone offers services under multiple brand names. However, the ruling not only affects TracFone but its brands as well. The settlement includes all of TracFone affiliates, including:
- Total Wireless
- SafeLink Wireless
- Simple Mobile
- Net10 Wireless
- Straight Talk
- Telcel America
- Page Plus Cellular
The wireless provider agreed to reimburse clients for purchasing totally locked devices for TracFone service. Hence, TracFone or any of its brand subscribers are eligible for compensation if:
- They have been a customer for at least one year.
- The service launch was after the 11th of February, 2014
- They ask for an unlock code from the carrier.
- The phone is working.
- The device isn’t flagged as stolen or linked to fraud and crime.
Currently, ineligible customers for compensation can qualify over time. To check your eligibility, you can contact the company by calling at 1-888-442-5102 or visiting its Unlock Policy Website.
Requirements To Unlock A TracFone Mobile Phone
Not all TracFone devices are incapable of unlocking. You can unlock a Tracfone handset, especially if you purchased it after the 2016 FCC ruling. The following is all you need to remove TracFone network lock on your cell phone:
- You need to request for a phone unlocking service
- Your device must have an active record on TracFone service for at least one year
- You should not have a history of porting or recycling your cell number within the active subscription period
- You must request to unlock a Tracfone handset while your service is still active or within sixty days of its expiry. A customer is eligible for the unlocking solution even if they ported or recycled their number in the sixty-day grace period.
- You must have a TracFone branded gadget.
- It should be the 11th of February, 2014 carrier-launched model or activated on its network after the 11th of February 2015.
- Your device must be in working condition.
- The phone should not be fraud-linked or reported as lost or stolen.
- You are only eligible to unlock a Tracfone handset once a year.
Checking your cell phone network unlock status is faster with TracFone online compatibility checker. Simply enter your mobile phone number to see if your device is capable of unlocking.
Military Personnel Requirements To Unlock A TracFone Handset
To unlock a Tracfone mobile phone, you must meet a lot of requirements. However, the key factors are that you must have an active TracFone device for not less than twelve months. Besides, the device should be a newer model from after the 11th of February 2014, and that you qualify for one unlocking request annually.
Military personnel can escape a few of the requirements when seeking to unlock a Tracfone smartphone. If the device is incapable of a network unlock, TracFone will honor the unlocking request with a refund of the phone Trade in value. But the military customer must send the handset to TracFone to qualify for compensation.
Moreover, TracFone will exempt military members from the twelve-month service activation requirement. Also, the wireless company will not regard the eligibility prerequisite on air card redemption. Note that these exemptions don’t apply to every serving military member. The carrier will only excuse personnel with proof of service in the form of deployment papers.
3 Steps To Unlock A TracFone Device
The following is a step-by-step guide to unlock a Tracfone cellphone. However, unlike other carriers, not all TracFone gadgets are capable of unlocking. Many of their old-model devices are ineligible for network or SIM unlocking services. Instead, you can seek compensation through one of the methods in our earlier descriptions.
Visit TracFone official unlock policy website. Navigate to the bottom of the page and enter your cell phone number. Alternatively, you can ask for help via customer care during regular business hours by calling at 1-888-442-5102.
If you have an eligible phone, you can proceed with the unlock process to receive the network unlock code. However, if your handset is ineligible, you could still qualify for a carrier-based compensation. You could get a TracFone account credit to purchase a new smartphone or a cash rebate.
We tested the LG Ultimate 2, an Android smartphone that qualifies for unlocking, but it wasn’t unlockable because it is an old device. TracFone provided a cash refund of $15 for the phone. Similarly, we did another test on a TracFone prepaid device, the Motorola EX431 G. Despite meeting the carrier unlocking requirements, the phone was unable to unlock. TracFone made a $5 compensation for it.
Note: that you must send the handset to TracFone and lose the remaining data or airtime on it to receive the cash refund.
Purchase another carrier’s Sim card once you receive the passcode to unlock a Tracfone Switch off your locked phone and swap the SIM cards before turning it back on. The phone should give you a network unlock prompt with a place to enter the TracFone supplied unlock code. Once you enter the code, your handset should be able to receive service from the new network SIM card. After that, you can always swap SIM cards as you wish. But remember to switch off your phone before changing SIM cards.
Above is all it takes to override TracFone network lock on your cell phone. The process is fairly easy for an eligible phone.
Why Do Wireless Companies Lock Cell Phones?
Many wireless network providers have their cell phones on active network lock. A network lock effectively ties you to the provider service on that device. The cellphone will reject a competitor’s SIM card if you try inserting one. Locking cell phones is a customer retention strategy by carriers. Apart from TracFone’s phone locks, most companies lock handsets if you’re receiving device financing from them.
When purchasing a SIM locked smartphone, the service provider will ask you to sign a contractual plan, locking you to its network and services for an agreed period. Part of the deal involves the Equipment Installment Plan, where you’ll be making small regular payments every month towards the phone.
Some carriers will also require that you activate a new line of service on an eligible unlimited cell phone plan. The service line must stay active throughout your contract term. Therefore, applying a network lock is a profit-making venture for most cellular service providers.
Some Telcoms would still not unlock your phone even after the contract expired. However, the situation has since changed following FCC new regulations. In the new dispensation, service providers must unlock eligible customer’s phones. As a result, it is now possible to unlock a Tracfone handset or any other carrier-locked device.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The Bottom Line
In some cases, following the procedure to unlock a Tracfone may not seem worthwhile, especially with the vast selection of unlocked smartphones available on the market at affordable rates. There are tons of unlocked handsets on eBay, Amazon, and many other online retailers. Furthermore, you can land some great deals if you go for older models or refurbished devices.
If you have an unlocked cell phone, you can activate on any wireless provider with the Bring Your Own Phone program, including TracFone BYOP service. When traveling overseas and need to use cellular service, just power off your device, swap the SIM cards, and you’re ready to use your handset in the destination country. After that, switch the SIM chips back when you get back to the United States.