Saturday, November 14, 2009

Registering a new Red Pocket Mobile Prepaid SIM

A few people asked me about my primary US SIM card so I thought that I would write another blog entry on Red Pocket Mobile but this time, I would concentrate on the purchasing & activation process.

As I mentioned in my first Red Pocket Mobile SIM blog entry, I purchased my Red Pocket Mobile SIM on Ebay. I later purchased a replacement SIM directly from the company in the US since I could no longer locate a seller on Ebay selling it. Both came from the US and both took roughly the same amount of time for it to arrive to me in Canada (~ 1 week). The one from the Ebay seller sent it via regular USPS (United States Postal Service) in a regular business sized envelope whereas the one which came directly from Red Pocket Mobile was also sent via USPS but the company used a more expensive USPS option of sending it. I don't remember what USPS option Red Pocket Mobile used to send their SIM card to me but it was in a big USPS international envelope. It took approximately 1 week for me to receive the SIM card directly from the company (shipped from California to the province of Quebec). From the private Ebay seller (located in New Jersey), it also took approximately 1 week for me to receive the Red Pocket Mobile SIM card.

You can also purchase the Red Pocket Mobile SIM card (as well as airtime) in some cities. I've seen it being sold in New York City (in Chinatown) but I don't recall the name of the business establishment.

The first thing to do before considering purchasing the Red Pocket Mobile SIM card or any carrier's phone service for that matter (either through a private seller or directly through the company) is to make sure that there is coverage in the area that you will be visiting (or in the area where you live).

As mentioned in my first blog post on Red Pocket Mobile, Red Pocket Mobile is an AT&T MVNO and they use the native AT&T GoPhone (Prepaid) network. Their coverage map is located *HERE* and you will have to make sure that you select "GoPhone" underneath the "Coverage Type" and in the "GoPhone Coverage Legend," you will have to make sure that "Pay As You Go" is selected.

As you can see, their US coverage is limited but if you will be using their SIM card within their coverage zone, Red Pocket Mobile is an option that I think deserves consideration especially for people who are from one of the places where Red Pocket Mobile only charges local rates to call (or if you plan on calling one or more of these places a lot). These places are Canada, the US, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Red Pocket Mobile also charges local rates to call Taiwan but this only applies to Taiwanese landlines. Calling Taiwanese cellphone numbers costs a premium. Red Pocket Mobile recently added a few other places where calling these places, local calling rates apply. These new places are 3 Mexican cities (Monterrey, Mexico City, and Guadalajara) and South Korea. Calling a South Korean phone number and paying the local rate appears to only work for landlines.

After receiving the SIM card, I activated my Red Pocket Mobile SIM card by going to their website. I filled in Red Pocket Mobile's online activation form and within an hour, I received my Red Pocket Mobile phone number as well as my PIN. The PIN is required to log onto Red Pocket Mobile's website (gives you access to the outgoing calls made to non-US phone numbers).

Since I live in Canada and I obviously didn't have a zip code, I used the hotel's zip code for the zip code field. There are only 3 mandatory fields on the form. The zip code is used to give you your Red Pocket Mobile phone number. The hotel that I was staying at was in Las Vegas so I received a phone number in the 702 area code. The only importance in the area code is how much it will cost people to reach you at the area code. With your Red Pocket Mobile phone/SIM, it costs you the same amount whether you have a Las Vegas area code and you call someone in New York City or whether you call someone in Las Vegas with your Las Vegas area code. As long as you have Red Pocket Mobile coverage, it will cost the same regardless of where you're physically located in the US when you make/receive the call to these places. The SIM ID# field is important since the company needs this in order to activate the particular SIM card. Finally, the e-mail address field is important since this is where you will receive the information (i.e. your newly created Red Pocket Mobile phone number, etc.) I didn't complete any of the other entries before submitting the form and it didn't cause any issues with my account.

When I purchase my Red Pocket Mobile SIM card, the company offered $10 initial airtime upon activation. I'm not sure if they still do this but it is my guess that it is still done.

After your Red Pocket Mobile SIM is activated, if you are in an area that Red Pocket Mobile has coverage, you should activate your voice mail. To do this, you will have to insert your Red Pocket Mobile SIM card into your unlocked GSM phone and call your Red Pocket Mobile phone number. From what I remember, the entire process takes less than 3 minutes so will cost around $0.45 in order to set it up. You cannot activate your voice mail if you do not have coverage since the system requires that you use your cellphone in order to activate it. Once your voice mail is activated, you can access it by calling your Red Pocket Mobile phone number from any phone.

After activating my Red Pocket Mobile SIM, since I thought that $10 worth of airtime wasn't sufficient for my needs, I purchased airtime via the company's website. I picked the option for them to e-mail me my ePIN refill code and I paid using PayPal. Once I received the code, because I was still in Canada, I couldn't enter this code directly into my phone because I didn't have Red Pocket Mobile coverage so I went to their website and submitted the refill ePIN code. The link to do do this is *HERE*. If I was already in the US and if I had Red Pocket Mobile coverage, the refill ePIN can also be entered directly on the handset.

If you are in an area that offers Red Pocket Mobile coverage, you can also check your airtime balance by calling *777#. If you're in an area without Red Pocket Mobile coverage, you can get your balance by calling their North American toll free number 1-888-993-3888 or by sending them an e-mail at During regular business hours (Pacific Time), I find that e-mails are generally responded to within a few hours.

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section.


  1. So one do not have to buy a phone from them, and can just use one's own unlocked GSM phone?
    Do you know if unused minutes get transferred to the next year if one continue say to buy another $100 airtime?

  2. Thank you bart for reading and posting to my blog.

    No, you don't have to purchase a phone from them. You can use your own unlocked GSM phone as long as it supports the correct band (850/1900). I use a quad-band unlocked GSM phone with my Red Pocket Mobile SIM.

    In terms of the unused minutes getting transferred to the next year if one continues to purchase additional airtime, yes the balance does carry forward as long as you refill your account BEFORE the expiry date. By placing $100 airtime, your expiry date will reset to 1 year. I generally will top up my account with $100 a few days before my balance is set to expiry. This resets my expiry date to 1 year from the date of the refill and rolls my balance over to the new expiry date (as well as increases by balance by the amount that I added).

    I hope that this answers your questions.

  3. Thank you for posting this entry. It's got a lot of helpful information.

    I'm considering their prepaid service for my wife who doesn't use her phone very much. Do you know anything about the phones they offer? Not much of a selection, but we don't need anything too fancy.

    My son has a prepaid phone on the AT&T network and it gets great coverage in our area, which is why I'm looking for one on that network.

  4. Thank you Kevin for reading and posting to my blog.

    I don't know anything about the particular phone models that Red Pocket Mobile offers. According to their webpage, they offer the Alcatel 207 and the Motorola v3. Both phones are sold as being unlocked so you can use any SIM card in the phones.

    The Alcatel 207 is a dual band phone which will only work with a North American SIM card (such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Red Pocket Mobile, Rogers, Fido, etc.) The Motorola v3 is a quad band world phone and will work anywhere in the world with the proper SIM card.

    My suggestion to you is that you purchase the Motorola v3 since it is unlocked and when you or your wife travel you can purchase a local SIM card and continue to use that phone.

    In regards to Red Pocket Mobile, my personal feeling is that unless you or your wife call a lot of people in Canada, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan (landline), 3 cities in Mexico, etc., you should probably go with AT&T since they have packages (example: data packages, text packages, a voice packages) with their prepaid service whereas Red Pocket Mobile prepaid (Pay As You Go) only has a basic voice plan. They also don't have an SMS plan (so it is pay per use).

    I use Red Pocket Mobile because over 75% of my calls are back to Canada when I'm visiting the US and I like the fact that I can call directly the Canadian numbers without having to use a calling card and without having to pay extra for long distance. I also like the fact that with $100, I benefit from a rate of $0.10 per minute to call Canada (as well as China, Hong Kong, and the other countries/cities) via DIRECT dialing.