How to Activate Used Cell Phones With U.S. Cellular

By Michelle Skidgel

U.S. Cellular opened its doors in 1983 in Chicago, Illinois. Over the years, the company has grown to the point of serving 6.1 million customers nationwide, as of December 2010. If you are an existing U.S. Cellular customer, you can activate a phone other than the one purchased when entering the contract if for some reason it becomes necessary due loss or malfunction of the original phone, or even if you simply prefer another model.

Step 1

Remove the used cell phone's battery. Look for the electronic serial number (ESN) on the label in the phone's battery compartment. The ESN is an eight- or 11-digit alphanumeric code, often with a designation of "DEC," " ESN" or "HEX" preceding the number sequence. Write the number down.

Step 2

Look for the phone model, which is listed on the same label. Write it down.

Step 3

Call U.S. Cellular customer service at 1-888-944-9400 from a different telephone. When prompted, press "4" for Technical Support.

Step 4

Explain to the support representative that you wish to activate a different cell phone. Answer the representative's security questions, including your name, cell-phone number, account password if you have one and billing ZIP code.

Step 5

Give the representative the ESN number and cell-phone model information. Turn the used cell phone off, then back on, when asked. Dial "*228" then press "Send." The phone will be active within a few minutes.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure the battery in the used phone is charged, since you will need to use it as part of the activation process.
  • Visit an authorized U.S. Cellular store if you wish to have an employee handle the activation for you.
  • Once the phone is active, you can reach U.S. Cellular Customer Service by dialing "611."