How to Unlock a Phone & Switch Carriers

By Shelley Smith

Unblocking, or unlocking, a cell phone is legal in the United States and, as a result, many want to use the service now. A "block" or "lock" is placed on cell phones by service providers to keep users from using the same cellphone if they switch carriers. If the block is removed, not only does it allow the user to switch carriers using the same cell phone, but it eliminates any roaming charges as well.

Unlock Your Cellphone

Step 1

Ask your current cellphone service provider to unlock your phone. Prior to this request, read through your cell contract to see if there are any penalties associated with unlocking. Some providers levy fines when phones are unlocked.

Step 2

Retrieve your PUK, or PIN Unblock Key, from your cell phone service provider or an unlocking service provider. The PUK is a series of numbers that you will input into your cell phone to unlock it. Prompts will appear for you on the digital display panel to complete the unlock.

Step 3

Purchase unlocking software from a reputable software unlocking company. Download the software using your USB cable that accompanies your cellphone.

Switching Carriers

Step 1

Read your current cellular telephone contract for any early termination fees.

Step 2

Identify a good list of available cell phone service providers serving your area. Review the various cell phone plans, including all costs for texting, emailing, contract penalties and cell phone hardware.

Step 3

Sign a contract with your new cell phone service provider. If you want to retain your same cell phone number, ask for the number portability feature.