Before you unlock your phone
Before you can relax into the easy-breezy unlocked lifestyle, your phone has to be eligible. Just make sure it meets AT&T’s eligibility requirements before you take the next steps.
AT&T’s eligibility requirements
- Your contract is up (if you had one).
- You’ve paid off your phone (if it was leased or on a payment plan).
- You’ve had your AT&T account for at least 60 days.
- Your phone isn’t tied to any other AT&T accounts.
- Your phone hasn’t been reported as lost or stolen.
The rules are a little bit different if you have a prepaid plan. For example, your account has to have been active for at least six months.
Heads up for military members
How to unlock your AT&T phone
If your phone meets all the unlock criteria, then you’re good to go. And by go, we mean submit an online form to have AT&T unlock your phone.
To fill out the form, just go to AT&T’s unlock page and follow the instructions. Once you’re done, you’ll get an email with a link you have to click to complete the request.
After that, it’s just a waiting game. You’ll get another email from AT&T within a couple days that will give you instructions on how to officially unlock your phone.
The instructions are a little different if you have an iPhone, Android, or you’re still stuck on Blackberry. But you’ll probably need the SIM card from your new phone carrier to finish the process.
Can I use my AT&T phone with another carrier?
Yes. But you should know that not every phone carrier uses the same technology and your AT&T phone might not do everything you want it to if you choose an incompatible carrier.
Cell phones use either CDMA or GSM technology. AT&T uses GSM and so does T-Mobile. But if you’re hoping to switch to Sprint or Verizon, both companies use CDMA technology, so you’ll have to check if your device will work with those networks first.
Not sure which carrier to choose?
It’s tough to know which carrier will cost the least money and won’t leave you stranded on a road trip with no phone service or no access to Google Maps. But don’t worry, we’ve reviewed all the major phone carriers to help you pick the best one.
Is unlocking the same as jailbreaking?
Nope. You unlock your phone because you want to use it with another phone carrier, whereas you jailbreak your phone because you want to download shady apps.
Okay, the apps aren’t always shady, but jailbreaking does give you access to apps you wouldn’t find in your phone’s authorized app store. It also disables a lot of your phone’s security features, so we don’t really recommend it.