Life Hack: Unlock a Cell Phone for Free

This is a collection of some of the more major cell phone providers requirements/directions on how to unlock your cell phone for free.

A few reasons you may want to unlock your cell phone:

  • Traveling abroad- instead of paying the ridiculous per minute cost when going overseas, you can grab a local prepaid sim and drop it in your phone.
  • Switching Carriers- if you have a phone you like already and don’t want to buy or pay the extra monthly charge (i.e.AT&T Next), this is a way you can shop around for a new cell provider and keep your old phone (assuming you switch between SIM car carriers or CDMA carriers)
  • Need to pick up a quick emergency phone- Dropped your phone in the toilet and killed it?  I know you’re out there.  Instead of paying up the wazoo for a super expensive feature phone, you can run to Walmart and pick up a cheaper prepaid phone and unlock it.
  • Profit- you may have an old IPhone and want to sell it.  Unlocking it is usually a little more valuable and can fetch you a little extra dough.
  • You’re looking to switch to an ultra low cost option for you cell service

A few things to know about unlocking cell phones.  Some providers use SIM cards (those tiny little cards) like AT&T or T-Mobile.  You can unlock a phone from AT&T and drop your T-Mobile SIM card in it or vis versa.  Some carriers use CDMA (no SIM card is used) like Verizon and Sprint.  Again, you can unlock a phone for one CDMA provider and it should work on the other network.  You cannot unlock a SIM card based phone and use it on a CDMA network or vis versa.  Some phones are equipped with both SIM and CDMA tech and will work with any provider when unlocked.

***Lastly, this is not a how to guide and I am not liable for damage caused by you attempting to unlock your phone and bricking it.  You are assuming the risk when attempting to unlock your phone.***

So, below are links to instructions and requirements for some of the major carriers and their instructions on requesting an unlock:

AT&T

T-Mobile

Verizon

Sprint

Cricket Wireless

Boost Mobile

Metro PCS

US Cellular

Walmart Family Mobile

These are a few providers off the top of my head for device unlocks.  Feel free to add more in the comments section below.

For another life hack on super cheap cell phone service here is an extract from one of my articles about consumption (or just read the whole thing):

“You’re probably shitting yourself looking at my phone category.  How is this dude paying $41.50 a year for phone service?  I have an old grandfathered prepaid plan.  I buy minutes a couple times a year to keep everything active and up to date.  No I don’t have a data plan, I don’t even have texting turned on with my service.  I have wifi set up in my place, and most places these days have wifi if you need to jump on to check something.  I got tired of receiving drunk texts at 3am a long time ago, so I just opted out of that crap completely.  Every January, I pay for an annual Skype service.  Pay for Skype you say, I thought that shit was free?  This is my life hack.  I have a Skype app on my phone.  Basically paying Skype users can set up their account so you can call land lines, cell numbers, and it show as if your using your cell number.  The beauty of this is my cell coverage is actually pretty crappy in my condo, so I can do a call through the internet, it shows my cell number, and the person on the other side of the line has no clue.  When not home, I would just use my cell like normal and use my prepaid minutes.  Again, I have a pretty sweet grandfathered prepaid plan and I am willing to sacrifice not having a data plan.”

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Readers Comments (52)

  1. Skype in your situation is brilliant. Thanks for sharing all these hacks.

    • You can also use google voice as well. Spending $40 a year for communication sure does beat around $1200 annually that most would spend. WiFi is everywhere in the states, so if you really need to check FB on the go, just check for open wifi from a big box store near by. Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowes, McDonalds, Starbucks, Kmart, and Safeway always have free open wifi.

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