How to Set Up for a Prepaid Phone

By Rianne Hill Soriano

Using a prepaid phone doesn't require a credit check.
i mobile phone image by Clark Duffy from

Using a prepaid phone is an ideal alternative if you are looking for mobile phone service without the hassle of committing to a long-term mobile service contract. Apart from the standard cell phone services such as local and international calling and text messaging, there are other more specific features that a user can choose with prepaid phone service.

While the exact steps in setting up a prepaid phone depend on the mobile network you're using, the general steps mainly involve activation of the prepaid account.

Insert the new SIM card into the cell phone. If needed, charge it while you read all the documents in the package that comes with the prepaid kit. Look for the more specific information including the website and phone number to use to activate the phone and to make inquiries with customer service.

Whether using an old phone or a new phone that comes with the new prepaid kit, remove the phone's battery and write down the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number of the phone printed inside its battery compartment. You need this for the activation of the prepaid service.

Turn on the phone. If using a new phone, follow the start-up wizard to complete the phone set-up.

Confirm the method you will use for the activation of the prepaid service. Generally, you can do the activation online or by phone. For online-based activation, type in the URL provided by the mobile network. For phone-based activation, call the toll free number and follow the voice prompt to begin the activation process. The activation is generally done without the help of a customer service representative. However, if you're encountering any problem, you can always call the customer service number for help.

Choose the type of prepaid service and rate plan you want to use. Most mobile service providers offer different kinds of prepaid services, plans and add-on services, including the traditional prepaid service, in which a user pays a certain amount depending on usage, those requiring a daily amount to pay for unlimited text or calls, and those with data plans either packaged with phone usage or requiring additional payment per use.

Provide the required information asked during the activation process. This generally includes your name, address, phone number and PIN (usually a 4-digit number), along with the activation number/code that comes with the prepaid kit, the SIM card serial number and the phone's serial number or IMEI number, a form of identification for the cell phone device.

Confirm the activation. Although new prepaid kits generally come with free start-up minutes, you may choose to start putting additional money to your prepaid account by following the instructions in your prepaid kit.