Most cell phones come locked to a specific network. For instance, if you bought your phone from T-Mobile, it will only work on T-Mobile’s network. The same goes for the other cell phone carriers. Once you get it unlocked, you can take your device to any carrier of your choice (assuming its compatible). This guide will walk you through the unlocking process.
T-Mobile will give you the needed codes to unlock your phone for free. However, there are a few criteria you need to meet before they give you the code:
- Your phone must be a T-Mobile Phone. T-Mobile can only unlock phones bought from them in the first place.
- Your phone can’t be reported as lost or stolen.
- Your T-Mobile account needs to be in good standing—i.e., there are no overdue charges or unpaid services on your account.
- You haven’t requested more than two unlock codes on the same line in one year. T-Mobile will only allow two devices per phone line to be unlocked each year.
In addition to this list, there is another set of eligibility requirements depending on the type of phone you have.
T-Mobile only allows you to unlock two devices per line each year
Let’s Talk Tip: If you need to unlock a phone that isn’t from T-Mobile, contact the carrier who sold the phone originally.
If you have a postpaid phone, there are four requirements to get your phone unlocked:
- Your phone has been active on T-Mobile’s network for 40 days or more
- If you bought your phone via an installment plan, all payments must be paid in full
- If your account that has a service contract you have to make 18 or more consecutive monthly payments
- If the device is associated with a canceled account, then the account balance must be $0
If you have a prepaid phone, there are two requirements you must meet before you can receive your unlock code:
- The device has been active on the T-Mobile network for more than one year.
- Your prepaid account must have more than $25 in refills for basic phones, or $100 in refills for smartphones. The refill minimum only applies if your phone has been active on the T-Mobile network for less than one year.
Unlocking for Military Deployment and Other Exceptions
If you’re in the military with an account in good standing, you will receive a T-Mobile unlock code with proof of deployment. There may also be exceptions to unlock your phone if you have a business or government account. Those are decided on a case-by-case basis and you’ll need to contact T-Mobile customer service for more information.
If you aren’t a T-Mobile customer but have a network phone, you can request a T-Mobile unlock code through customer service. However, T-Mobile won’t unlock the phone if it has been reported lost or stolen.
the whole unlocking process should only take up to 48 hours after T-Mobile Customer support unlocks your phone remotely
Is Your Phone Unlocked?
When you call T-Mobile and get the unlock code, they will also give you directions to input the code. Once you do that your phone should be unlocked.
You will know your phone is unlocked because T-Mobile will follow up in 48 hours with a confirmation email. After that email, you may have to wait another 24 hours for your phone to be officially unlocked. To make sure it’s unlocked, you can insert a SIM card from another carrier. If you receive service through that card, your phone is unlocked.
Use Your Unlocked Phone
- Sell it for a higher value. Unlocked phones have more value because they can be used with other carriers.
- Travel without having to worry about international T-Mobile plans or fees. With an unlocked phone, you can use SIM cards from foreign carriers.
- Take your phone to a new carrier. Keep in mind that not all phones work with every carrier. To learn more about switching networks, and to see which carriers your T-Mobile phone will work with, check out our other guides: