How to Unlock a Cell Phone for Any Service Provider

by Jacqueline Thomas ; Updated September 28, 2017

Items you will need

  • Cell phone

  • New SIM card

If you have a cell phone you love and are switching service providers, you may be able to keep your cell phone. Although a cell phone might be locked in order to ensure the loyalty of a customer, a cell phone can be easily unlocked. The secret is in the SIM card, which is a microchip in the phone (usually by the battery). If you switch to a new provider, you can use the new SIM card instead of your own. But be sure to make your cell phone compatible first.

Ensure that your cell phone has a SIM card. You may do this by checking it physically (usually near the battery) or by searching online. In the United States, there are two types of cell phone networks--SIM and CDMA. At present time you are unable to use a SIM card in a cell phone that uses the CDMA network.

Understand that if your phone has a SIM card, you have three unlocking options available to you.

You can call the service provider who gave you the cell phone and ask for an unlock. If you have fulfilled your contractual obligation, the provider will be inclined to give you the code, but don't try to get the code if you're breaking your agreement. Some cell phone companies unlock your phone after a few months of service.

You can have your phone unlocked professionally. This is the most hassle-free way, but it's definitely not free. You will probably pay anywhere for $5 to $30 for the unlocking service. There are many sites online that provide this service, without you having to mail the phone in, but you can also find these companies locally.

You can unlock the phone yourself. This is free, but it takes some Internet research. There are codes for all SIM capable phones, and usually the process takes about 10 minutes, but this is only if you are comfortable with technology. Be warned that you may irreversibly damage your phone, if you find incorrect instructions.

About the Author

Jacqueline Thomas is an award-winning writer and poet. She studied creative writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts and has written critically acclaimed pieces for over 20 years. Thomas is published in both traditional and online press, and has articles that reached the Digg Front Page.