How to Use Unlocked Phones on Prepaid Plans

By Matt McGew

Cellular phones are normally sold with a carrier lock that prevents using the phone on other cellular service providers' networks. It is, however, possible to unlock almost every cellular phone. Most of the world uses the Global Systems for Mobile Communications (GSM) cellular standard. Therefore, if you have an unlocked, GSM-based cellular phone, you can use the phone on a prepaid plan offered by any GSM cellular service provider worldwide.

Things You'll Need

  • Unlocked cellular phone

Step 1

Purchase a prepaid Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card from any GSM cellular service provider worldwide. Prepaid SIM cards are normally sold at any cellular service provider's retail stores or service centers for a nominal fee.

Step 2

Remove the existing SIM card from your unlocked phone and insert the new prepaid SIM card. On most cellular phones, the SIM card is located under the battery compartment, and you can access the SIM card by removing the back cover and battery from the phone. If you cannot find the location of your existing SIM card, consult your phone's operating manual.

Step 3

Purchase a prepaid minute card for the cellular service provider you purchased the SIM card from. Minutes are normally sold at local convenience stores and newsstands and are available in a variety of denominations.

Step 4

Scratch the security strip off the prepaid minute card. You can use your fingernail or the edge of a coin to remove the strip. Once the strip is removed, you will see the card's prepaid number.

Step 5

Flip the card over and read the instructions on the back of the card. Normally, the card will instruct you to dial a number from your cellular phone. Wait for a prompt or beep and enter the prepaid number from the front of the card. You will receive a confirmation that the prepaid card was successfully activated on your phone.

Step 6

Use the phone as normal to send and receive calls. When you have used all of your prepaid minutes, you can add additional minutes by purchasing another prepaid card.