Most cell phones come locked to a specific network. For instance, if you bought your phone from AT&T, it will only work on AT&T’s network. The same goes for the other cell phone carriers as well. However, once you get it unlocked, you can take your device to a multitude of carriers!
With an unlocked phone, you can use it on other networks, and it will generally have a better resale value. This guide will walk you through the unlocking process.
Eligibility Requirements: AT&T Unlock
Let’s Talk Tip: You can unlock your AT&T Next, or AT&T Next Every Year phone if you’ve paid it off.
Before you send in your unlock request to AT&T, read this list of eligibility requirements. You need to meet these criteria before they unlock your phone:
- The phone you want unlocked can’t be reported lost or stolen
- Your device must be fully paid off, with no remaining installments— if it’s not, you’ll need to pay it off at least 24 hours before you send in your unlock request
- Confirm that your device isn’t active on another AT&T account
- Wait 14 days after an upgrade to unlock your old device if you upgraded early—If you have a business account wait 30 days
- Have active AT&T service for at least 60 days with no past due or unpaid balance
- If you are in the military, you need to send AT&T proof before they’ll unlock your phone
- If the phone was and bought by your company, get permission to unlock the device
Is Your Phone Unlocked?
After you’ve sent in your electronic form, AT&T will get back to you via email within two business days and will confirm or deny your request. If you’re rejected, double check that you meet all the requirements and wait 24 hours before sending another request.
If you’re denied approval make sure your phone is paid off and that there are no outstanding charges on your AT&T account
If your request is approved, check your phone’s unlock status on AT&T’s website. Here you’ll need your phone’s IMEI number and confirmation number from the email AT&T sent you. To finish the unlock process, you’ll need to follow the instructions on inserting your new SIM card. If the card works, then you were successful in unlocking your phone.
Using Your Unlocked Phone
You can bring your unlocked phone to another carrier and get a new plan. Newer phones tend to be universally compatible, so you can take them to any of the big carriers (Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile) or one of the many MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) that run on the networks.
While traveling abroad, you can easily buy and slip in SIM cards from foreign carriers. This allows you to avoid having to pay for international plans or fees.
The Most Popular Cell Phone Plans
Learn how to bring your own phone and switch carriers: