How to Unlock Your T-Mobile Phone

Which hoops do you need to jump through to unlock your T-Mobile device? Let’s find out.

Ready to wave goodbye to the “Un-carrier” but not to your phone?

Switching from T-Mobile to another cell phone provider isn’t rocket science. To start, you’ll need to unlock your phone—and we’ve got the deets on how.

Before you unlock your phone

When it comes to unlocking your phone, T-Mobile is like that über strict college professor. You know the one.

While some cell phone carriers make unlocking your phone simple, T-Mobile’s process is a bit messy. That’s because it has a giant checklist of requirements you’ll need to meet before you can unlock your phone. What a surprising headache from the wireless provider that calls itself the “Un-carrier”!

Here’s a quick look at some of the more surprising requirements for unlocking your T-Mobile phone.

Before you unlock your T-Mobile phone . . .

  • You can only request two unlock codes per line of service each year.
  • You might need to give T-Mobile proof of purchase for your phone.
  • Your device must have been active on T-Mobile’s network for at least 40 days—and prepaid phones must be active for at least a year.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Yeesh.

How to unlock your T-Mobile phone

Get your paperwork in order before you call T-Mobile.

If you’re checking all the boxes on those requirements, you can call T-Mobile’s customer service to begin unlocking your phone. But before you call, make sure you have these things on hand.

What you’ll need for unlocking a T-Mobile phone:

  • The primary account holder’s name and the account number
  • The account password or the account holder’s social security number
  • Your phone number
  • Your phone’s 14- to 15-digit IMEI or MEID number

You can usually find your IMEI or MEID number under the battery cover or on the back of your phone. If you can’t find it there, just dial *#06# and your number will pop up automatically.

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Are you in the military?

T-Mobile allows exceptions to its long list of requirements for deployed military personnel. Just have your deployment paperwork ready when you contact T-Mobile.

Can I use my T-Mobile phone with another carrier?

You can. AT&T is an easy switch, but Verizon and Sprint may cause problems.

Are you unlocking your T-Mobile phone so you can switch to another carrier? While T-Mobile’s steps may seem daunting, the good news is using your phone on another network might be easier than you thought.

If you’re considering switching to AT&T, you should have no problem bringing your phone with you when you go. That’s because both AT&T and T-Mobile run on the global system for mobiles (GSM) network.

Here’s which cell phone providers use which networks:

  • GSM: AT&T and T-Mobile
  • CDMA: Verizon and Sprint

This doesn’t mean you can’t use your phone on the Verizon network, though. T-Mobile’s and Verizon’s LTE networks match up pretty well, so you should have little trouble bringing your own phone unless you only use 3G.

Swapping to Sprint, on the other hand, may be difficult. T-Mobile and Sprint don’t quite match up, but some 4G LTE devices will work on Sprint’s network. If you want to hop over to Sprint from T-Mobile, we recommend calling Sprint to make sure your phone is compatible first.

Ready to switch? We’ve done the research for you.

Find out which cell phone provider meets your needs with our quick and easy reviews.

FAQs

What does “jailbreaking” a phone mean?

Is jailbreaking your phone the same as unlocking it? Not quite.

While unlocking your phone means you can use it with a different wireless carrier or even overseas, jailbreaking means you remove restrictions set in place by the maker of your phone. By removing these restrictions, you can download and use unauthorized apps.

For example, if you decided to jailbreak your Samsung phone, you’d be able to download apps that aren’t available on the Google Play store.