SIM Card FAQ

What do “GSM” and “CDMA" mean?
What devices can I use with a TextNow SIM card?
Can I use a tablet with TextNow?
How do I unlock my device?
Do I need WiFi to activate my TextNow SIM card?
Will I need another SIM card to use my device with TextNow?
Can I pull my TextNow SIM card and use it with another device?
Will I be able to use my TextNow SIM internationally off wifi?
How do I qualify for a free month of service? 
The website is asking me for my MEID number. Where can I find it? 
Help! My phone is telling me the SIM card is invalid!
Help! I ordered the wrong SIM card!
Help! My activation button is greyed out!
Help! My SIM card is broken or lost!
Help! I locked my SIM card and I need a PUK code!
Help! My SIM card isn't being recognized by my phone! 
Help! My phone reads the SIM card, but I can't connect!


What do "GSM” and “CDMA” mean?

GSM and CDMA are types of wireless networks. (GSM stands for Global System for Mobile Communications, while CDMA stands for Code Division Multiple Access). GSM is used worldwide, while CDMA is used primarily within the US. T-Mobile and AT&T run GSM networks, with Sprint and Verizon using CDMA networks.


What devices can I use with a TextNow SIM card?

TextNow can use unlocked CDMA or GSM-enabled Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. For Android devices, we support devices on KitKat (4.4) or above, and for iOS we support iOS 8 and above. To find out if your particular device is compatible, head on over to our SIM Card activation page!


Can I use a tablet?

If your tablet is either CDMA or GSM capable, we should be able to use it with one of our SIM cards. For Android devices, the tablet should be KitKat (4.4) or above, and for iOS it should be iOS 8 or above.


How do I unlock my device?

In order to use TextNow with your CDMA or GSM device, your device will need to be unlocked. Each carrier will have a slightly different method of unlocking your device if it is currently locked to that carrier; contact your carrier for more help on how to unlock your specific device.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also has a helpful FAQ with regards to unlocking your device.


Do I need WiFi to activate my TextNow SIM card?

You will need a stable wifi connection to activate your TextNow SIM card. Once it's activated, you won't need wifi to place calls or send texts as your phone will be able to access the data network, while still also being able to use wifi whenever wifi is available.

If you're activating your TextNow SIM card over a public wifi connection (i.e. at a cafe or library), often there will be an additional step after you connect in order to access the internet. If you're having difficulty activating while on a public wifi connection, try opening your browser on your device as you may have to complete an additional step through your browser before your device fully connects.


Will I need another SIM card to use my device with TextNow?

That depends on your device. Certain specific CDMA phones from Sprint, Boost and Virgin Mobile we can activate directly onto TextNow without the need for another SIM card. For all other unlocked devices, we’ll ship you a SIM card to use with TextNow - click here to check your device and order a SIM card!


Can I pull my TextNow SIM card and use it with another device?

If you have another device that is compatible with the type of SIM card you have from TextNow, and it's a phone we can activate on TextNow, we'll be able to swap the service to that new phone for you! Contact us at TextNow Support and we'll get it set up.


Will I be able to use my TextNow SIM internationally without wifi?

I'm afraid not. Our TextNow service runs off a national US CDMA network, which is unavailable outside the US. You can, however, use your TextNow activated device over wifi outside of the US to call and text numbers within the US and Canada, as well as use your international long distance credits to call numbers outside the US and Canada while on wifi.


How do I qualify for a free month of service?

To be eligible for a free month of service, it must be a first time activation with TextNow, and the credit card must not have been used for a free month previously on any other TextNow account. The free month can be applied one-time only on new activations.


The website is asking me for my MEID number. Where can I find it?

Depending on the device you're using, the MEID number might be listed as the ESN or the IMEI. Generally, the MEID number will be a 14-digit string, and may contain both letters and numbers.

On an Android device, you can find your MEID/IMEI number under your main Settings app > About Device > Status. On iOS, you can usually find it under the main Settings app > General > About.

If your phone has a removable back and battery, it will also often be on a sticker in the bay underneath where the battery sits. On that sticker, it will often be listed as the ESN number.


Help! My phone is telling me the SIM card is invalid!

If you're getting a "SIM card invalid" message after inserting your TextNow SIM, there's a good chance your phone is still locked to a carrier. Contact your carrier to ensure your phone is unlocked for use.

The Federal Communications Commission has an excellent help article that goes over unlocking regulations for US carriers, which has more information about unlocking mobile devices.


Help! I ordered the wrong SIM card!

No problem! Contact us at TextNow Support and we can send you a replacement.


Help! My activation button is greyed out!

If you've inserted your TextNow SIM card into your CDMA device and you find your activation button has been greyed out, then the SIM card from us may be the incorrect model. Contact us at TextNow Support and we'll send you a replacement card.


Help! My SIM card is broken or lost!

We're sorry to hear that! Please contact us at TextNow Support and we can assist you with a replacement SIM card.


Help! I locked my SIM card and need a PUK code!

If you require the PUK (or Personal Unlocking Key) code, please contact TextNow Support at orders@textnow.com, or you can speak to one of our chat agents on any of our Support pages.

Please note that PUK codes are only available for SIM Cards purchased separately from TextNow, and not for SIM cards that come with our TextNow devices.


Help! My SIM card isn't being recognized by my phone!

Eject the SIM card from your phone and ensure it's seated properly in the SIM slot. You may have to refer to the manual for your device for more specific information about the location of your SIM card slot, and what size of card your phone accepts.

Note that on some older Android devices, you may need to restart your device after inserting your SIM card. If your card isn't being recognized, try holding down the power button to bring up your Power Off menu and tap Restart.


Help! My phone reads the SIM card, but I can't connect!

You may need to perform an SCRTN (aka a carrier reset) on your phone to reconnect back to our network. See our article on how to do an SCRTN here.

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Comments

  • Avatar
    Stephanie Littleton

    Help please I've done all the steps it's showing t-mobile network but it doesn't let me call when I disconnect from wi-fi and I have a HTC desire 626S my settings for the scrtn reset is different

  • Avatar
    Stephanie Littleton

    Well it's working now maybe it had to reset itself

  • Avatar
    Erin TextNow Support

    Hi Stephanie,

    Please take a look at our tutorial video to help you get your GSM sim card activated in your Android device to make sure you haven't missed any of the activation steps: https://supportwireless.textnow.com/hc/en-us/articles/216440363-Video-Tutorials

    If you've completed all of those steps and still having trouble getting connected to the data network off of wifi, please don't hesitate to speak to one of our live chat agents, the chat box is in the bottom right corner of this page for immediate assistance!

  • Avatar
    Abby Booth

    My current device is in a software glitch and won't stay lit past the Motorola globe. Can I switch to another device

  • Avatar
    Erin TextNow Support

    Hi Abby,

    Sorry to hear you're having issues with your device! I have taken a look at your account and it looks like your phone is still covered by your 12 month warranty.

    So in order to help you out with some troubleshooting and potentially get you a new phone if your troubles can't be resolved, please reach out to one of our live chat agents so they can assist you further! (They can be found in the bottom right corner of this page!)

    Hope to hear from you soon :)

  • Avatar
    Kaidan Taylor

    Im still not connected to the network...i need live support please

  • Avatar
    Valeria TextNow Support

    Hey Kaidan!

    It looks like you were able to speak with a live chat representative for further assistance.

    If you are still experiencing any issues, please contact us at orders@textnow.com for additional testing!

  • Avatar
    Ralph WWoods

    Hi I have a straight talk phone that I am currently using with your app. I was wondering it would work if I got one of your sim cards an monthly plan

  • Avatar
    Kristopher TextNow Support

    Hey Ralph,

    Thanks for the all the support. You will need to make sure you unlock the device from StraightTalk before we can activate on this end. I have also sent you a quick email requesting a bit more information for you specific device.

    Please follow-up with me there!

  • Avatar
    Angel Hedge

    With a data plan I know you can call and text. My question is, do you have internet as well? Can you look something up on Google or use Google maps?

  • Avatar
    Valeria TextNow Support

    Hi Angel, absolutely!

    Data is essentially an internet signal, so you would be able to use it for all internet browsing and app usage as well :)

  • Avatar
    bath billy

    I order my sim card at the beginning of the month and I still haven't received It

  • Avatar
    Valeria TextNow Support

    Hey there!

    It looks like it was returned to us and refunded in full. We've tried to contact you since them to be able to update your address and re-send it, however, we haven't been able to do so.

    Please respond back to our emails, or speak with one of our live chat representatives (can be found on the bottom right-hand side of this page) for further assistance!

  • Avatar
    Tinychic66

    What about using a textnow Sim card from Microsoft old textnow account already used but not still in use?

  • Avatar
    Erin TextNow Support

    Hi there,

    TextNow is not supported on Windows devices, so a sim card from Microsoft would not be able to activate TextNow service. If you have a device that you'd like to check for TextNow compatibility, you can provide your IMEI number to us through our live chat portal and we'll be able to check that for you.

  • Avatar
    Michelle Ceniceros

    Hi. My friend gave me her Samsung S5 and it's not locked to her provider. I ordered a TextNow SIM card and it's not working. And by working I mean nothing. No instructions came up, it just says Invalid SIM card. Can y'all help?

  • Avatar
    Erin TextNow Support

    Hi Michelle,

    If you're getting an error message stating that you have an invalid SIM card we will need to check to see what type of SIM card that device requires to get activated. Please reach out to our live chat support so we can grab your account information and the IMEI number from your S5 so we can look into this with you, thanks.

  • Avatar
    Brad Necker

    I have an older apple phone that has ios 7 as an operating system and cannot be upgraded to ios 8, is it possible it may still work with your sim cards? The older iphones have a much better feel and fit in my pockets better.

  • Avatar
    Erin TextNow Support

    Hi Brad,

    iOS 8 or above is required for our service to operate on any iOS device, so I'm afraid if you cannot update your phone to a later OS version it won't work with our SIM cards.

  • Avatar
    montavia kinney

    I got a Sprint Sims card for my Moto play Android phone and needed a Verizon one instead. I'm also told by the company I can't switch over, so I can only use verizon

  • Avatar
    Erin TextNow Support

    Hi Montavia,

    We do not sell Verizon SIM cards since our service is not compatible with their network. However, I see that you had emailed us back to confirm the IMEI number from the phone you're trying to activate, so we will see if any of our SIM cards will work for you and reply to your email with more information.