Visible is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) that is owned by Verizon. It’s a cheap alternative if you don’t need all of Verizon’s features. Briefly, the advantages and disadvantages are:
Cost: Verizon is nearly double in cost compared to Visible:
Verizon: ~$60/month (phone) and ~$10/month (watch).
Visible: ~$30/month (phone) and ~$5/month (watch).
Convenience: You manage your devices and accounts online by yourself with no additional support.
UI: Verizon’s web and mobile user interface is horrible in terms of logging in and navigating within the site and/or application while Visible’s user interface is much easier to use.
Priority: Due to Visible being an MVNO, cell and data usage will be deprioritized over non-MVNO customers in situations where traffic is high.
Perks: Additional discounts, bonus offerings, etc. don’t exist.
International: Cellular, data, and SMS use when traveling internationally isn’t supported. You’ll only see No Service listed and will have to rely on WiFi, eSIM data packages offered by Airalo for example, or SIM cellular/data packages offered by local vendors. In truth, this isn’t a major disadvantage as you can more easily customize your travel needs if you plan ahead.
Support: Provided by online chat only which is generally slow and cumbersome. You could spend hours or days if in a major bind.
For a deeper dive on Visible, Tom’s Guide has an article that goes into more detail. You might also want to browse through Visible’s various plans as well.
Assuming the above advantages are enough to pique your interest, the rest of this article will walk you through switching over to using Visible.
You don’t need much to switch from Verizon to Visible but being aware of the following will speed up the process:
Don’t cancel your existing cellular service especially if you want to keep your existing number (more on this later). Even better, this gives you a chance to experiment with Visible before shutting down your existing service (for instance, Visible is offering a 15 day trial at the moment).
Download the Visible mobile application from the App Store. You don’t need this to create your account but will be necessary to complete the activation process.
Sign into your Verizon account and ensure you’ve disabled your number lock (as written about earlier). It’s not the end of the world if you forget to do this but Visible will give you an error if you fail to do this.
While logged into your Verizon account, ensure you generate a transfer PIN by navigating to Account → Account Settings → Security settings → Number transfer PIN and then clicking on the Generate PIN button. Once generated, record your account number and PIN as you won’t be able to access this information again. The PIN is only good for a week but should be more than enough time to complete the transfer. You need the transfer PIN in order to port out your original Verizon number to Visible but is only necessary if you want to keep your existing number, otherwise you can ignore this step entirely.
Only a few steps are required to get setup and should only take ~15 to ~30 minutes complete:
Start by visiting Visible’s main page and choosing to Bring my phone or Get a new phone. My recommendation is to use your existing phone (assuming it’s unlocked — most are these days).
You’ll then need to check for compatibility. If you have a modern phone, you’ll be able to activate your eSIM (fastest) or fill out shipping information for Visible to ship you a new SIM (slowest).
Once your eSIM or SIM is setup, you’ll need to switch to using the Visible app on your phone — installed earlier — to complete the setup process by following the prompts within the app. That’s it.
During the setup process, you should see eSIM/SIM activation, account setup, and finally a success message. The mobile app says it’ll take 5 minutes but it was more like ~10 minutes in my case. Here are a few screenshots from the process:
You can confirm Visible (eSIM) is working in parallel to your existing Verizon (SIM) service by opening Control Center on your phone and noticing that both Visible and Verizon are in use:
Adding a Watch
Once you have verified Visible is working properly, you can move on to adding your watch to your plan (if you have one). The process is quick too:
Open the Watch app on your phone.
Click on the Cellular setting and then click Add a New Plan.
Follow the prompts and you’re done. It would be wise to reboot your watch after the process is complete.
The longest part of the process is waiting for Visible to respond by hanging out on this screen:
Keeping Your Original Number
Once your phone and watch are configured to use Visible, you can start the process of porting over your existing phone number by watching/reading this Visible tutorial. First — and foremost — ensure you have the following information ready:
Your Verizon account number — as previously mentioned and captured in the Preparation section above — which should look something like this:
1234567890. Keep in mind that your full account number will probably look more like this:
1234567890-00001. You don’t need the dashed suffix (i.e.
-00001) — because Visible will flag it as an error — only the first part of the account number (i.e.
1234567890) is necessary.
Your Version transfer PIN (don’t confuse this with your account PIN which is what Visible incorrectly displays in their help text). The transfer PIN must be generated by logging into your Verizon account and navigating to your security settings as mentioned earlier in the Preparation section (i.e. Account → Account Settings → Security settings → Number transfer PIN). Here’s a screenshot:
⚠️ Keep in mind, that you only get five attempts to enter your Verizon account number and transfer PIN via the Visible app. If you screw this up, you’ll be locked out from completing the transfer for 24 hours.
Upon initiation of the transfer process, you’ll immediately be greeted with the following screen in the Visible application:
Once the transfer has successfully completed, you should get a push notification along with the following email:
You’ll be prompted to reboot your phone since your cellular settings will probably look confusing due to both your old SIM and new SIM reporting use of the same number:
To correct this, you’ll either want to delete your old SIM (if an eSIM) or remove your SIM (if physical). When you shut down your phone to remove your SIM and reboot again, you should see you only have one cellular line which is your Visible line.
The successful completion (port out) of your Verizon number becoming your Visible number also means that your number, line, and associated device in your Verizon account will disappear and you’ll be billed (pro-rated) for only the time used for that billing cycle.
The following — listed in no particular order — might be of interest should you want to shop around with other MVNOs:
Additional information can be found by researching/comparing services via WhistleOut.
Services, like Visible, cater well to the DIY crowd where you can manage everything yourself — all online — for a significant price savings. If you are tired of paying high fees for services you never use, especially if you only care about no frills unlimited voice, text, and data, then this is a good alternative. With the rise of eSIM, swapping between different carries is an improved advantage especially when traveling internationally because now you have a free SIM (physical) slot in addition to numerous eSIMs. Enjoy!