Buying a used Verizon iPad? No prepaid data for you

Buying a used Verizon iPad? No prepaid data for you

Summary: The prepaid iPad data plan is easy to control right on the tablet. Unless you buy a used Verizon iPad, in which case it is not available.

TOPICS: iPad, Mobility, Verizon

The newest iPad is available with 4G LTE from both AT&T and Verizon in the U. S. Both carriers offer them with prepaid data plans that you can turn on and off as needed, and adjust to fit your data needs. That's a big plus for iPad buyers as it eliminates the need for a contract or a full carrier plan. It's the only way to go for most iPad owners, but those buying a used Verizon iPad should be aware that the prepaid data option is not available from the carrier.

I ran into this head-first as I worked a deal with a friend trading my Wi-Fi iPad for her Verizon 4G model. The 4G iPad arrived and in short order its was restored from my previous iPad backup. The initial setup came to a screeching halt when I tried to set up the 4G data with Verizon.

Normally this first time setup is easy to do on the iPad. The Settings | Cellular Data option steps new owners through the process of setting up a prepaid data plan and getting it activated.

This used iPad had already been activated and instead of a new setup I was confronted with an existing account login. I needed the email address and password of the original owner's account to get in to do anything. Obviously I didn't have that information, but I figured that shouldn't matter since this used a prepaid account with no carrier contract required.

I called Verizon technical support and explained the situation, that this was a used iPad I wanted to set up. The technician was quite nice and had me try a number of things to get the original account deleted so I could set up my own. The original owner of the iPad also unnecessarily stepped up to help me out with the original account information.

After a solid 45 minutes, the rep told me he would send me a new SIM, since deleting the original account deactivated the SIM that shipped with the iPad. He tried to set that up but found out they are not allowed to send SIMs out for prepaid accounts.

He transferred me to the prepaid technical support department (yes, they have one) and after explaining my situation once again I was told I would have to visit a Verizon store to get another SIM. Verizon's technical support staff are not allowed to send out iPad SIMs for prepaid accounts.

Off I went to the local Verizon store, where I spent a total of two hours. After trying to figure out a way to get me a prepaid SIM, the store manager came to the conclusion that they could not give me one at all. They couldn't even sell me a SIM, as all SIM disbursements must have a newly purchased iPad attached to them.

It was suggested I could try the Apple store, but the manager admitted that Apple didn't have loose Verizon SIMs to hand out. The end result? Verizon cannot activate a previously activated iPad for new prepaid service. The original owner has to delete his/her account, and that kills the SIM. Which Verizon cannot replace.

The choice I was left with was no choice at all. I had to add the 4G iPad to my existing Verizon account with its monthly bill. This is a post-paid data plan, meaning I cannot manage the plan on the iPad as you can with prepaid accounts. I can activate/deactivate the 4G data at will, but I must go through Verizon to do so.

This is a disadvantage, so those looking to buy a used iPad better avoid the Verizon models. The prepaid SIM can only be activated once, after which it is no good and cannot be replaced with the prepaid plan. Even though the original buyer paid full price for the iPad the availability of prepaid data goes only with that original activation. Then it's no prepaid data for you.

Note that this only applies to the new iPad with 4G LTE, as that is the only Verizon model that requires a SIM card. Earlier models that are 3G only do not use a SIM so they can be reactivated as needed.

All is not lost, as I already have a phone and Mobile Hotspot device under contract to Verizon. Adding the iPad to the mix now makes the Share Everything data plan on Verizon, available today, economically attractive to me. Adding the iPad means I can now switch everything to the new plan where all three devices will share data, and save a few bucks.

See also:

Topics: iPad, Mobility, Verizon

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  • Great catch

    This is really odd. Nice post though. Can't imagine why they are limiting the SIMS though. Are they somehow locked to the device by Verizon?
    • No, the system is built so

      The conclusion every Verizon rep I dealt with was that the Verizon system is not set up to allow distributing LTE SIM cards without an iPad or phone sale to go with it.

      I was told that by phone reps, two of them, and the store manager in person.
      • RE: Verizon system is not set up

        No James, the 'truth' is that Verizon, the carrier notorious for "nickel and diming" their customers; wants to insure a sale of [b]New iPad[/b].

        This decision essentially makes used iPads a 'brick' if the intended buyer wants a pre paid plan.

        [b]Bad Verizon![/b]

        It is totally within their power to 'make it so', but they will not, their greed for $$$ blinds them to serving their customers.
  • Guess I won't be buying a used Verizon iPad anytime soon.

    But then, I have no need for cellular data, and have a WiFi-only iPad. When I am out and about, I use my iPhone, and it suits me most of the time (except for sites with Flash or really tiny fonts), and there are WiFi hotspots available in many venues, such as where I vacation, so I find the combination of iPhone and WiFi iPad works the best for me.
  • So . . .

    . . . What happens if your SIM card is lost or damaged, or turns out to be defective?

    Sounds like a Verizon teething problem. Still, unless and until it's resolved, good reason to buy the AT&T version.
  • No resale

    So basically, noone can resell the Verizon 4G iPad as such, they would have to sell it as Wifi only as the 4G is not transferrable, which doesn't seem right.
    • Postpaid works

      As stated in the article, Verizon can activate it with a postpaid account.
  • First time Verizon customer

    As a New iPad 16GB/4G and 32GB/4G owner, both Verizon, I think this is total BS on Verizon's part. If Verizon continues down this path and does not resolve this they will completely devalue the extra money my wife and I spent on getting the 4G versions.

    If Verizon does nothing about it, then Apple should at least step up and do something about it. As a new Apple and Verizon customer I'm not happy about this discovery. I'm sharing this development through all of my social media outlets and I think everyone reading this should do the same.

    Thanks for the post JK.
  • Get them from Best Buy Mobile!

    Hey guys, I'm a sales associate at Best Buy Mobile, and just wanted to let you all know if you cannot get a SIM card from Verizon, we can help you out! We cannot give them away, as they cost us money to purchase, but we do indeed sell them separately to anyone who wishes for $19.99.
  • You can still get AT&T "4G" HSPA+

    The SIM in the Verizon iPad is unlocked just like the one in the AT&T version. You can put in any SIM including AT&T's. Unfortunately, the hardware in the Verizon iPad is not compatible with AT&T's LTE frequencies so you will only get HSPA+ which is still pretty good.
  • Verizon Swapped my SIM

    I was unable to activate my Prepaid Verizon Ipad. I kept getting some kind of error message. Went to the Apple Store and they gave me a new Ipad but with the same SIM. That's when they figured out it was the SIM. They sent me to Verizon and after 2hrs they gave me a new SIM. At that point I decided to have them activate the Ipad on a monthly plan and they waived the activation fee.

    Sorry to hear they wouldn't swap your SIM James. I just upgraded my plan today to one of the new plans because for $10 more I got an additional 2GB of data.
    • So you're post-paid, like me

      Sounds like you were set up just like me with a postpaid preactivated account. That's not the same and what the article is about.

      I too switched today to the Share Everything plan which is saving me bucks, plus letting me share a big bucket of data.
      • Yes

        I wanted to activate on the Ipad but was unable because something was wrong with my SIM card. After fighting with Verizon for 2 hrs. They gave me a new SIM. I just wanted you to know that some Verizon stores will put a new SIM in for you.
      • I got a new SIM too

        Just to be clear, Verizon did end up putting in a new SIM, but only because I activated a postpaid account. They had to have an active account to assign the new SIM to, which is the whole problem.
        • Prepaid Data for me

          I deleted my own Verizon account on my iPad, and was told the same thing you were about needing to go to Verizon to get a SIM. He too wanted me to sign up for a postpaid account (which costs more).

          I talked to the guy a bit while I entered my SSN, and he asked me to pick a plan (postpaid). I told him that I wanted him to install the new SIM first so that I could pick a plan on my iPad (prepaid). He had trouble getting the SIM in my iPad, so I had to do it for him. I confirmed that I had the original prepaid options on the iPad, then told him "Bye!".
          Lawson Culver
  • Thanks

    Thanks for explaining! They led me to believe that I would be able to activate on a prepaid account after they put the new SIM in, but I chose to go the monthly plan when they waived the activation fee. I wouldn't have pay an activation fee on the pre paid account.
  • Walmart

    I had a similar problem. But I just went to my local Walmart store and they were able to sell me a Verizon LTE sim card for $15. When I got home I just popped the SIM card into the unit and was able to setup a brand new prepaid Verizon plan by keying in my credit card information into my iPad.
  • Ebay

    Check Ebay. There is an Ebay seller who sells new Verizon 4G SIM cards for $6. They work great in the Verizon new iPad.
  • Perfect timing

    I have spent countless hours trying to see if I could run my unlocked, canadian ipad in the US. I am fed up with outrageous roaming fees. This time I want to see if I can get a verizon, att sim card and run my ipad 2 in the US. Seems to be a real pain the ass to do, but needless to say I need to find out.
    fred funk
  • Don't Think Twice About Buying a Used Verizon iPad

    This is a long, self indulgent, article about a non-problem. There's no differentiation between "prepaid" or "postpaid" sims. A previously registered LTE sim cannot be reregistered. If you get a replacement sim from Verizon, they will register it to their best advantage, which is a post paid plan. If you get the LTE sim anywhere else, you can register it yourself as a prepaid agreement. LTE sims are available and can easily be obtained from a local merchant or from eBay. In the time it took the author to visit the cell phone stores and then write the article, he could have done some online research, dropped $5 on a sim, and gone on vacation with his prepaid data plan. But where's the story in that?