With “digital strip-searches” in force and privacy scandals fast becoming the norm, you might wondering about how to get a burner phone.

Temporary and anonymous, burner phones are a popular answer to our everyday privacy concerns.

If you are looking to get a temporary phone number in the USA, then you absolutely need to know how to get a burner phone number.

Before we take a look at how to get a burner phone, let’s see what burner phones are all about, how they work, and why you should be using them.

What is a burner phone?

Popularised by shows like HBO’s The Wire and FX’s It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, burner phones are cheap, readily disposable handsets that  require no identity registration upon purchase.

(image credit: Radio Times) Burner phones were popularised by shows like HBO's The Wire

Because burner phones do not require a compulsory registration of identity, they are also a lot harder to trace.

Even with triangular phone tracking and IMSI catchers, it’s still difficult to trace burner phones to their users.

Burner phone versus prepaid phone

All burner phones are prepaid phones, but not all prepaid phones are burner phones.

burner phones and prepaid phones may feel like the same thing, but there are key differences

Unlike prepaid phones, burner phones can be paid upfront for in cash, or via a prepaid card bought in cash.

While both act as extra cell phones that provide temporary and anonymous phone numbers, burner phones are usually only used ONCE and can be easily disposed of.

Why use a burner phone?

Simple- A burner phone:

  • Keeps you safe when dating online, especially in the early stages when you’re not sure if your date is yours truly or crazy stalker.
  • As an backup phone in case of any emergencies.

Other reasons why people want to get a burner phone also include:

While privacy is a big feature with burner phones, people also buy them for work and productivity benefits
  • having a separate phone number for business or work, to help separate work from personal life and keep you productive.
  • as a cheaper alternative to stay in contact with friends, family and colleagues.

How do you get a burner phone?

Here are some tips for how to get a burner phone:

Tip 1: Buy burner phones from on a no-contract basis.

Earlier we mentioned that burner phones require no identity registration upon purchase, but take note that those sold at major retailers often have this requirement.

That means it's not really a "burner phone" if you buy it from them.

To make sure that your purchase is untraceable, only buy from retailers that allow upfront cash payments.

Tip 2:  Get a burner phone that isn't locked to any carrier.

There are two types of burner phones:

  1. those that have SIM cards "locked" to particular carriers like Virgin Mobile and Tracfone
  2. those that are "unlocked" and allow you to insert any SIM card.  

It's more economical to purchase "unlocked" burner phones since you only have to change SIM cards and not get rid of the burner phone entirely.

Also, "locked" burner phones tend to require identity registration.

Tip 3: Make sure there’s nothing that can connect you to your burner phone.

The whole point of getting a burner phone is to make sure you're untraceable.

When purchasing a burner phone as an extra cell phone, make sure you do not give the seller your credit card or bank account information.

Also have the store clerk activate the phone for you. At any time, do not give them any personally sensitive information.

Essentially, make sure that buying and activating a burner phone is entirely anonymous.

Transform your phone into a burner phone - and keep it forever

Another solution for how to get a burner phone is to simply transform your current mobile phone into a burner phone.

A burner phone that you don't have to physically dispose of.

All you need is a burner phone app like Hushed, Burner, or our very own Phoner burner phone app.

Phoner's burner phone numbers are a great alternative to burner phones
Get unlimited burner phone numbers with Phoner

Burner phone apps are better than physical burner phones because:

  1. you don’t need to carry two separate phones to have multiple phone numbers
  2. Burner numbers from apps are cheaper than burner phones
  3. Burner numbers from apps don't require a new SIM card

With a burner phone app like Phoner, you have access to cheaper, unlimited temporary and anonymous phone numbers you can use use immediately without having to get a new phone or SIM card.

Keep your personal privacy safe with burner phones

Both burner phones and burner phone apps are inexpensive ways to protect your personal privacy. With burner phones however, you have to make sure you're buying them right.

And that's how to get a burner phone. If you're curious how burner phones work, check out this piece written a while back on USA Today. Get a burner phone or burner phone app and stay safe today!