All four major carriers lock phones so they can only be used on their individual networks. This means if you want to eject your AT&T SIM-card and use a Verizon one instead, you’ll be unable to unless your phone is unlocked. Unlocked phones have a wide variety of benefits. They are much more flexible allowing you to use any network at home and abroad while also fetching a higher resale price from buyers. So if you want to learn how to unlock ATT phones, follow these easy steps.
How to Unlock an AT&T Phone
Of all the major carriers, AT&T’s unlock process is the easiest. You don’t even have to contact customer service if you prefer not to. All you do is submit an unlock request and it should be processed within 24 hours if you fulfill the following criteria:
- Your device can’t be reported as lost, stolen, or associated with fraudulent activity.
- Devices purchased in full usually are unlocked already.
- You have no past-due balances on your account
- Your device isn’t active on another AT&T account
- AT&T prepaid device has been active for six months or longer
- You have company permission if using a business-owned device
- Note some business accounts are eligible for early unlock. Contact AT&T to see if you’re eligible.
For devices purchased through installment plans, you will need to finish paying off your phone before you can unlock it. If you’ve paid off the device early, you’ll need to wait 24 hours after your last payment. Finally, your contract must be completed or in good standing after a period of 12-24 months depending on your service agreement.
Additional Things to Know
For dual SIM devices, these requirements apply to both lines. Also, note iPads and wearable devices are unlocked so you don’t need to request unlock. Finally, for people in the military, you can submit an unlock request at any time when you provide your temporary or permanent change of station military documents.
How to Submit an AT&T Unlock Request
You can do everything in just a few steps:
- Find your device IMEI number by dialing *#06# or in your device settings.
- Contact customer care at 611 or 800.331.0500 or submit request online.
- Follow all instructions to unlock your phone
- Check your unlock status after you’ve finished the process.
What if AT&T Won’t Unlock My Phone?
Like the other major telecom carriers, AT&T reserves the right to refuse an unlock request. Typically, this is for accounts in bad standing or devices that have been fully paid off. Put simply, AT&T doesn’t want to give you a phone for free so you can use it with one of their competitors. However, some people need their devices unlocked early. This is particularly true for international travelers who want to take advantage of cheap local sim cards compared to expensive international roaming rates and plans.
You do have a couple of options. Many third-party cell phone and electronics stores can unlock your phone for you both in the US and abroad. However, most people prefer the convenience of online SIM-unlock services. These services are easy to use, affordable, and offer money-back guarantees if they cannot unlock your phone.
Be aware, however, either of these actions may violate your service agreement with AT&T so proceed with caution. But if you unlock your phone and pay it off as normal, you should have no problems.
Finally, some people workaround locked phones by using a portable Wi-FI hotspot while traveling. Nowadays, you can rent these at most international airports and it’s a good way to ensure connectivity for all your devices though it won’t be as cheap as just getting a local SIM-card. Finally, you can look into purchasing used unlocked phones. You can find good quality used iPhones and Samsungs for under $200 to use for data purposes and as a hotspot, while keeping your original SIM-card in your other phone.
How to Unlock ATT Phone
Overall, it’s pretty easy to unlock AT&T phones. If your account is in good standing and you’ve paid off your installment plan, you can unlock phones in a few simple steps. However, if you are experiencing issues with AT&T, you can still unlock your phone. Take advantage of phone unlocking websites or electronics stores that offer the service. You should be able to do it quickly and easily for between $5-20. However, this may violate your service agreement. If this is the case, you may want to look into other options such as using an iPad, portable Wi-Fi hotspot or purchasing a used smartphone.
Overall, it’s better to buy unlocked phones from the start. They give you the freedom of choosing whichever career you like without having to sign up for expensive, complicated contracts.
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