July 28, 2022

TextNow Frequently Asked Questions – Extended!

Written by kevin-c

Tips & Tricks

At TextNow, we’re a bit different than your traditional wireless carrier. TextNow offers phone service that can be accessed on all your devices through our free apps for your phone (Android and iOS), and when you add a TextNow SIM Card (for only 99¢!) to your unlocked phone, you can also connect to the nation's largest 5G/4G network!

And another perk of TextNow: You can always login at www.textnow.com right from your web browser to stay connected, all with a real phone number.

That's a lot different than some popular messaging apps, or what you might think of when it comes to cell carriers. The unknown can be scary, and we want you to feel at ease with TextNow, so we’ve answered some of your most frequently asked questions below to help you feel comfortable with what makes TextNow an amazing wireless phone provider – and how we can do it for free!

Let’s start with the number one question we get asked:

Can TextNow be used without WiFi?

And the answer is... Yes! When you combine our app with a TextNow SIM Card, you can take TextNow with you on the go, anywhere in the US, on the nation's largest 5G/4G network. Unlimited calling and texting is always free, and we cover the cost of service through the ads in our app, so you never have a monthly bill. We even throw in free roaming to Canada and Mexico.

How do I receive verification codes on TextNow?

You may have noticed that when using your TextNow number to sign up for another site or service, you get a text from us (TextNow) telling you to lock in your number instead. Well, there is the answer! For safety reasons, only TextNow numbers that are locked in (either through our lock in number subscription, Ad-Free+, or our wireless service) can receive verification codes.
You can find the upgrade that works best for you in the "My Store" section of the TextNow app menu.

Also note that our 2GB, 3GB and 5GB data add-ons also include the Locked in Number add-on.

What's a premium number from TextNow?

Simply put, it's a number that is a little more attractive than the regular bunch, mostly because it usually has repetitive numbers (eg. 955-5555). This is a great choice for anyone who'd like to have a unique number (perhaps for a business), or something easier to remember. It will also lock in your number, so you can use it to get verification codes! To find this option, open up "My Store" in your app's menu.

How can I check if my in-app TextNow subscription is active?

If you do end up upgrading to a premium number, a locked in number, or any of our Ad-Free subscriptions and want to check its status, the answers are all available right in your app store. Tap on the My Store icon on the TextNow main menu to manage your subscriptions. You can also cancel subscriptions through Apple and Google’s app stores: iOS users can find more detailed instructions here, while Android users can find them here.  There, you can also easily cancel the subscription if you ever choose to do so.

Is the Nationwide Talk & Text service from TextNow really free?

It really, really is. It's ad-supported (so you will see some unobtrusive ads on your main screen), which keeps it free for you.

Can I activate my own SIM card on TextNow's service?

No. With our recent network changes (with faster, and better coverage!), you can only activate your phone on our reliable network with a one-time purchase of one of our SIM cards ($4.99).

How long does it take to get a TextNow SIM Card?

While we'd like to uphold to a 2-3 day timeline, SIM cards can take up to 10 business days to be delivered. So, sit tight, and if it's been over 10 business days, please contact our live chat support on help.textnow.com between 10am-5:30pm EST, so they can look at the next steps with you!

How do I set up my TextNow voicemail?

In your mobile app's settings, you can find the "Calling" section, and underneath it, you'll see a few options, including Voicemail. If you tap on it, you can then either turn it on or off, as well as record a custom greeting to personalize your number a little more.

Can I use my TextNow service outside of the United States?

If you're activated on our Nationwide Talk & Text service (or any of our data plans) you’ll have free roaming in Canada and Mexico. Everywhere else TextNow would only be usable over Wi-Fi. Otherwise, if you already have the TextNow app and decide to travel, you can certainly keep using your number over WiFi wherever you're able to connect. And the best part is that your number will still be considered local to your U.S. residence, so no fees or long-distance charges for calling or texting friends and family back home, nor for them contacting you.

‍How is TextNow’s service unique?

We’re unique in the industry for offering the first free ad-supported Nationwide Talk & Text network. But we’re also unique in that TextNow isn’t just for your phone. You can also use TextNow to call and text over WiFi from a laptop, desktop, or tablet.

You can sign into your account on TextNow.com and see your messages, call history, blocked numbers – everything you can do from the app. So, imagine you’re at a friend’s place and your phone breaks or your battery dies. You can jump on the nearest computer and still be able to get your messages or make a call, right through your web browser at textnow.com.

Why do I have more than one phone number on my TextNow phone?

This is another common question we get from new wireless users. If you’re a wireless user, you may notice something labelled as “My Phone Number” in your main Settings app, which is completely different from your TextNow number.

Your TextNow number is the number that you’ll want to give to your friends and family to call and text you, and that’s the number that your calls and texts will come from. Your TextNow number can be found in your TextNow app.

‍The “My Phone Number” in your device settings is your phone’s Mobile Directory Number (MDN). This number is used to connect your phone to the network. For your purposes as a user, the MDN is basically just a backend number that does not require acknowledgement, but from a TextNow perspective, the MDN is required to ensure that your service is working just right.

These native calling icons should only be used in two cases:

  • For emergency calling (911)

  • If advised by customer care for technical support

What can I do to minimize my data usage with TextNow?

By far the easiest way to preserve your high-speed data is to connect to WiFi. Let’s say you’re on our 5GB plan  – once you use 5GB of high-speed data, you will have access to TextNow’s 2G data network, but 2G can be slow for anything beyond calling and texting. If you connect to WiFi whenever possible, your high-speed data will be saved for when you really need it.

It is also recommended that you keep activities such as streaming, downloading, and updating apps for when you’re connected to WiFi whenever possible. These actions can use up data quickly, so plan when you can to take advantage of WiFi networks to save your data. If you’d like more data-saving tips and tricks for specific apps, check out our Save The Data articles!

‍Why does TextNow require so many phone permissions?

TextNow requires three main permissions for the TextNow app to work on your phone: Phone, Microphone, and Contacts. These permissions are necessary to make and receive phone calls, record a voice note or voicemail, compose new messages, and more.

Additional permissions that are requested are: SMS, Storage, and Location. These permissions are required for users to send photos, record a custom voicemail, select a phone number, and much more. If you want to ensure that you’re able to take full advantage of all of TextNow’s features and optimize your TextNow experience, you’ll want to enable those permissions.

Can I recover old TextNow messages?

The simple answer here is no. Once a message is deleted or expires from your TextNow account it cannot be recovered. However, if you’re using our Android app, you can take advantage of our export feature before you delete a conversation. This will send a copy of the conversation to your email or a text file where the thread will be saved.

Why don’t some third-party apps let me verify my account with my TextNow number?

This is a slightly more complicated question – although TextNow provides standard phone numbers to all our users, some third-party applications do not recognize them for their verification purposes. This decision is on their end and sadly out of our control. In order to have your TextNow number recognized by a third-party application that may say it’s not valid, you would have to contact that company's support team directly and request that they adjust their verification processes.

For more, check out the TextNow Guide section on our blog! We're always publishing new and useful tips for TextNow customers, and if you don't see your answers there, comment below and let us help!

One final insider tip if you're looking for free wireless phone service: Follow TextNow on social media and participate in our contests! Find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok to stay up-to-date on all the latest news, giveaways, and more.