How to Make a Cell Phone Prepaid

By James Johnson

If you've purchased a new cell phone or you are currently using a cell phone with a contract plan and you want to change to prepaid phone service, you're in luck. Most cell phones on the market today are capable of contract and prepaid service. You just need to know how to switch them over.

Step 1

Determine the service with which your phone will work. For example CDMA phones are meant for CDMA networks such as Verizon Wireless and Sprint, whereas GSM devices are meant for AT&T and T-Mobile, as well as several other smaller carriers. You can typically find all of your phone's information at popular sites such as GSMArena for GSM devices and Phonescoop for CDMA carrier devices.

Step 2

Make sure your phone is unlocked so it can work on a new carrier. You can typically purchase unlock codes from popular websites such as GSMLiberty, or you can call your carrier and ask for your phone's unlock code. If you have had 120 days or more of continuous service, your current provider will usually provide the unlock code for your phone. Follow the unlock code directions from whichever source you use. This allows your phone to work on various carriers that use your phone's same type of technology (GSM/CDMA).

Step 3

Contact the prepaid carrier with which you want to set up your phone. The representative can tell you if the phone is compatible with the carrier's service.

Step 4

Active your phone with the prepaid carrier. GSM users receive a prepaid SIM card to place in the phone. This card allows your device to operate on the carrier's networks as long as minutes are available on your account. A CDMA customer must provide the phone's ESN number, which is located under the battery cover of the device.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are changing from contract to prepaid use on the same carrier, simply contact your carrier and a representative can switch your phone over to the prepaid service.
  • Not all phones work as prepaid devices. Some companies have prepaid specific technology in prepaid phones, and not all phones will work on every type of character. Before purchasing a device for prepaid use, make sure it will work with your prepaid provider.