How to activate a SIM card

Activating a SIM card online makes switching carriers easy and, in some cases, eliminates the need to pay an activation fee
Activate sim card

I have activated many SIM cards as a former SIM card distributor, and in this post, I will go over the required steps to activate any SIM card and teach you some common troubleshooting tips.

Your SIM card could be free

SIM card distributors make most of their profit from SIM card activations and not from selling SIM cards. Because of that, many eBay and Amazon sellers offer free SIM cards or charge a few cents when marketplace restrictions discourage giving away free items.

I sold my SIM cards on Amazon for just $0.01. Although I do not sell on Amazon anymore, some distributors still offer free SIM cards.

Follow these steps to activate any SIM card

1. Get the correct SIM card size

Make sure your SIM card fits into the SIM card slot before activating. Physical SIM card sizes are standard, micro, and nano. SIM cards can be cut using a SIM card cutter or a razor as long as the chip stays intact.

2. SIM cards are only good for one-time use

It is worth noting that a SIM card can only be activated once. A new SIM card is required to reactivate your service if your old SIM card gets deactivated.

3. Get a compatible SIM card

Some cell phones are carrier locked and cannot be used with any SIM card. You should confirm that the cell phone being used is supported or unlocked before activating your SIM card. For example, an AT&T-locked cell phone will only accept an AT&T SIM card and reject other SIM cards unless the phone is unlocked.

4. Gather account information to switch carriers

If you are switching carriers, call your current service provider to release your phone number and get the following information to transfer your number:

  • Accounts locked in a contract need to provide the account holder’s SSN, address, account number, password, and phone number being transferred.
  • Prepaid accounts need only provide the account number, account password, and the phone number being transferred.

You must provide your new service provider with accurate information, or your transfer will not go through.

After you activate your SIM card, your new service provider will contact your old service provider with the information you provided. The service transfer can take up to several hours.

5. Choose a cell phone plan

You must choose a cell phone plan before activating your SIM card, but you can always switch plans after your activation is complete, depending on your service provider's guidelines.

6. Upfront payment is required

You will need to pay for the first month of service unless you activate a preloaded SIM card. Preloaded SIM cards include the first month of service for free or for a fraction of the price and can be activated with a new number or by transferring an existing number from a different provider.

7. Choose your area code

When activating a new SIM card or changing a phone number, area codes are determined by the zip code you provide during the activation process. For example, If you want a 559 area code, provide a zip code within the 559 area.

8. Activating your SIM card 

My preferred method of activating a SIM card is online because it is faster, more convenient, and sometimes does not require an activation fee.

Go to your new service provider’s website, search for an “activate” link, or use the search form. You will most likely need to create an account before activating the SIM card. The rest is just following the on-screen instructions.

You can always contact customer support if you stumble into a problem. Some providers have 24 hours online customer support, and others only have available agents during their business hours.

Alternatively, you can activate your SIM card at a store, but you will pay an activation fee. The benefit of this route is that a salesperson will help you choose a plan, give recommendations, and activate your SIM card.

Carrier-specific SIM card activation

Activate A SIMPLE Mobile SIM Card

To activate your Simple Mobile SIM card, visit

  • On the first screen, enter the SIM card number located on the back of the card and hit “continue.”
  • Use the first option to activate your SIM card on a new number, or use the third option to transfer an existing phone number.
  • Enter the information that applies to your type of activation, and then pay for the first month of service. 
  • Follow this tutorial for more information on activating your Simple Mobile SIM card.

Activating an Ultra Mobile SIM [Purple or Orange SIM cards]

There are two types of Ultra Mobile SIM cards: 

  • Purple SIM card, which is just a regular SIM card.
  • Orange SIM card, which includes the first month of service for free.

How to activate a purple SIM card

  • Visit and choose the purple SIM card option. 
  • On the next screen, enter the 19-digit SIM card number on the back of the SIM card and click the “Start Activation” button. 
  • Choose between activating a SIM card with a new number or transferring an existing number.
  • Enter the requested information and move on to the next step to pay for your first month of service.

How to activate Ultra Mobile Orange SIM card 

  • Visit and choose the orange SIM card option. 
  • Flip your Orange SIM card and scratch the faded area to reveal the fast-act code. Enter the code in the provided input field. 
  • On the next screen, select the area code you want by providing a zip code.

Follow this tutorial for more information on activating an Ultra Mobile SIM card