How to Get a Temporary Cell Phone

By Chris Miksen

Prepaid phones give you the luxury of not being stuck with a monthly cell-phone payment, which means you can quit using the phone whenever you want. Prepaid phones require you to add minutes that are available via prepaid cards or by using your credit card. Most prepaid phones belong to major wireless-providers' networks, such as Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, but some companies, such as Tracfone, have their own network and prepaid phones.

Step 1

Purchase a prepaid phone. Many major wireless companies offer prepaid cell phones, and, while most have only contractual phones at their stores, you can buy the prepaid phones online or at large retail stores.

Step 2

Charge the phone. You must charge most prepaid phones for at least four hours before activating it. Plug the small end of the provided charger into your phone and the other end into an outlet. Read the instruction manual for the specific length of charging time, as each phone does vary.

Step 3

Activate the phone. Unless you find a prepaid phone at a wireless provider's store, you'll have to activate the phone yourself by calling an activation number from a separate phone. The number is printed on both the instruction manual and on the back of the plastic case. Follow the instructions given to you over the phone; the instructions for each phone will vary, but you almost always must enter the phone's electronic serial number. Your phone is activated when you receive confirmation over the phone.

Tips & Warnings

  • Write down the numerous phone numbers included in your phone's manual. There are several numbers printed in the manual, including a number to check your phone's minutes, add minutes and activate your phone.
  • Most prepaid phones come with a certain amount of minutes, but you'll need to add more if you want to continue using it. You can add minutes to your phone by purchasing a prepaid phone card or by paying for the minutes with your credit card.
  • You can find the phone's electronic serial number by removing the battery cover and the battery itself. Look for an 11-digit number that begins with the letters "DEC."
  • You may first have to activate your phone online before you activate it over the phone. Go to the website printed in your phone's manual, if you have to activate it online; you'll generally have to enter your name, state, address and ZIP code.