Can a Tracfone be activated if there is no coverage?

Is it possible to activate a Verizon Tracfone if there is no Verizon coverage in an area?

I hope the answer is "yes" because I ordered the $30 HSN Moto E5 Tracfone (Verizon model) and apparently there is no Verizon coverage in this area. I don't care if I can't use the service, but I do want to activate the phone (so that I can keep the sim in it for 12 months, after which hopefully Tracfone will unlock it, and then I will have an unlocked phone with all the bands that can be used on any carrier).

So as you can tell, I'm going to great lengths to get a cheap all-carrier phone, but it all hinges on being able to activate the phone in the first place. With no coverage, how can activation be accomplished? Ideally without traveling to an area with coverage, obviously! Thanks for any tips, suggestions, advice, insights!

Not sure about the activation part, but I do know that just keeping the sim in the phone for 12 months doesn't unlock it. Paying Tracfone for 12 months in a row of service is what unlocks it.

Wow, a bunch of interesting, and complicated, questions involved in your plan, peterquinn.

Will it activate? Maybe. Did you do the zip code verification at HSN before purchase? I believe it will activate if the zip code was verified, even if service is poor.
Data points, but not completely applicable: A sprint phone "activation' depends on the server side thinking it's activated, whether the phone will provision locally or not. I don't know if this is true on the Verizon Network.
If you get a zip code failure on an activation attempt, perhaps you could activate in a different zip code? (but see "I don't know" above....)

In general, Tracfone will send a SIM for another carrier on request if you tell them you have poor service (and the phone is capable). If the Moto model # ends in DL, it's capable of Verizon, AT&T, & T-Mobile networks on Tracfone. have a complication with an unactivated bundle. I've read others say that the bundled time and minutes is tied to the SIM instead of the ESN. So don't try this within having Customer Service confirm that it will work & keeping a record of that chat conversation to document. (Absolutely do not use a BYOP SIM Kit to do this, as that will kill your chances of unlocking.)

I believe that if you get it to activate on Verizon, you could request the network-change SIM without jeopardizing the eventual unlock, so that you could get some use out of the plan. But again, the knowledge-base of Tracfone unlocking is minimal, and mostly anecdotal, so YMMV.

The real Tracfone experts hang out at

It might be smart to ask there.

I'd sell it on ebay for $70-80 and keep searching for that unlocked phone of your dreams. You'd probably net $55-65 after fees and shipping which gets you closer to an unlocked phone. Waiting a year in the off chance tracfone does their job and unlocks it is a plan filled with potential disappointments.

I suspect you'd need to show use for tracfone to unlock it so you might need to take it out anyway to find reception periodically. I wouldn't just put it in a drawer for a year.

I believe the HSN Moto deal peterquinn is referring to came with a year of service and allotments, so he should be covered there.

No worries there - the $30 includes 1 year of service and 1500 t,t,mb.

Would have been perfect if this area had Verizon!

You could pick up a byod sim kit and have them move you over your plan to tmobile or ATT. Make sure you confirm your allotments and take a record before they do anything though.

I think peterquinn needs to avoid using a BYOD SIM Kit-- if he does that, the phone will never become unlockable. (because as far as Tracfone is concerned, BYOD SIMs are intended to be used with customer-supplied, already unlocked, devices: and the ESN won't be registered to count towards the 12 months of use, since the BYOD GSM SIMs only register the SIM, not the device.)

Having Tracfone provide a replacement SIM, and tie the replacement SIM to the ESN, should keep the usage counting towards unlocking. The catch remains that I don't know if this can be done before activation-- but I'm certain I wouldn't try it before activation without confirmation from CS. After activation, it should not be a problem.

Yes you are right about the unlocking - the byod sim would probably mess with that. But if he wanted to use tracfone on another network and forget about unlocking then it is easy enough to switch over to another network with tracfone. Tracfone have decent plans.

Yes, I have been burned by transferring to a byod sim before - Tracfone refused to unlock my Verizon Luna after 12 months because I had transferred service to a byod AT&T sim.

Given that my ambitious plan is to get an unlocked, all-carrier phone at the end of 12 months, I am going to stick with Verizon -- after the phone hopefully gets activated, that is!

peterquinn, could you check on the Tracfone website to see what phones Tracfone offers for sale in your zip code?
If you see models ending in VL, Tracfone believes a Verizon network phone should activate in your zip.
If you see only a few phones, likely ending in BL or BG, Tracfone considers Verizon not viable in your zip.

You’re right, my zip code only pulls up BG and BL models. No DL models.

So I think at the time of activation, I will need to provide a different zip code that has Verizon coverage.

Then the plan would be to keep the sim in the phone for 12 months, occasionally travel to Verizon-coverage areas and use the phone there just to show usage. Tracfone will hopefully treat this as a phone that has been used continuously for 12 months and unlock it.

I don’t mind if I don’t get to use the included 1500 t,t,mb – all I want for the 30 bucks I paid is an all-carrier phone at the end of 12 months.

What do you folks think?

If it works, it's a good deal for $30. (And I don't see any reason for it not working.)

Tracfone is pretty used to low-usage lines. They expect you to use it within any 6 month period to keep it live.
I'll be hoping to hear a report of good news in a year!

Speaking of things Tracfone, Best MVNO has just announced that a Tracfone specialist will be working there. So one can now ask Tracfone questions and get them answered on the Best MNVO site.

" He specializes in handling all things Tracfone related and that is what he will start off covering at BestMVNO."

Hurray, it worked! The unlocking went smoothly, no glitches. The 30-dollar Moto is unlocked, thanks to the encouragement from friends here! It's sitting idle without a carrier on it, but hey, it's not locked to Tracfone any more :P, that's the important part, right!

Did you have to add any plan/time beyond the bundled 12 mo. it came with?

Thanks for the update, peterquinn! Glad to hear that you got it the phone successfully unlocked!

Did you end up with the Moto E5? When you originally started this thread, I had read some reports that Tracfone Verizon-network devices weren't likely to be eligible to use on the Verizon network even after unlocking, as the IMEI's weren't properly whitelisted with Verizon.
I have a Tracfone E5 in use now-- mine isn't unlockable yet, but I have checked the IMEI for theoretical Verizon activation, and Verizon says the phone will work if it's unlocked.

No, no need to add anything.

And here's the really cool part - it came with a year of service, which is 365 days. Tracfone only needs 12 months of service, which is technically 360 days. So I started checking for unlock around the 359th day (yes, I am certifiably nuts). And sure enough, it was eligible for unlocking even before my year of service was up.

I gotta say, after reading all the Tracfone horror stories, this unlocking experience was just great for me. A big thank you to folks here on this forum!

Hi there, KentE! Yes, it's the Moto E5.

That's good to hear about Verizon. I don't have mine on any carrier yet, I just like the fact that the phone is now unlocked.

I think that I read on HowardForums something about the E5 lacking some band for T-Mobile or AT&T or some such thing. But there's so much contradictory information flying around that I have stopped paying too much attention. (Like with Tracfone unlocking -- some people insist that adding more airtime is a must -- but my own experience with unlocking was very smooth, and I didn't have to add any additional airtime to get the E5 unlocked).

Thank you for reporting this. I have a Stylo 4 that is eligible for unlocking by mid March. Hopefully my experience will be the same as yours!