Trying to unlock your smartphone on Straight Talk? Maybe you’re in a poor service area and need to use the SIM from another carrier, or you’re headed out on international travel and want to use a local carrier in your destination country. Either way, your Straight Talk phone needs to be unlocked to use it on another network. There’s a few prerequisites that you have to meet, but the overall process is pretty easy. Follow along below!
Unlike popular opinion, Straight Talk phones come locked, not unlocked. The confusion is that since Straight Talk is owned by Verizon, who ships phones as unlocked, Straight Talk phones would be unlocked, too. That isn’t the case — Straight Talk has at least one requirement that you have to meet in order to unlock your phone:
- Straight Talk will unlock your phone after 12 months of pay-as-you-go service. It has to be consecutive, uninterrupted service.
- Straight Talk will unlock phones of current and former Straight Talk customers without charge; however, if you purchased a Straight Talk phone as a private seller (i.e. a non-former customer), you may still request an unlock code, but Straight Talk may charge a reasonable fee to provide this.
- Customers must possess a Straight Talk phone that is not reported stolen, lost, or associated with fraudulent activity (i.e. not blacklisted).
Military members don’t have to necessarily meet all of these requirements either. You will have to use a Straight Talk phone that isn’t blacklisted, but you don’t have to meet the others. Provide your deployment papers, and Straight Talk will honor the unlocking request.
As you can see, there aren’t a lot of requirements, but it’s still a pretty strict one. Once you meet the prerequisite, you can call up Straight Talk and have them give you, text you, or email you an unlock code.
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How to unlock a Straight Talk phone
Unlocking a Straight Talk phone is easy. First, make sure you have the unlock code handy, and then we can proceed with the process.
- Shut down the phone
- Remove the Straight Talk SIM card, and replace with your carrier of choice’s SIM card.
- Power on your phone.
- Enter the unlock code when prompted.
And that’s all there is to it!
What carrier can you use a Straight Talk phone on?
After you unlock your Straight Talk phone, you can take it to at least three carriers. You can use it on Verizon, as Straight Talk is Verizon owned. If the phone is made in 2015 or later, you can take it on GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile as well. Unfortunately, you might not have great luck on Sprint and its subsidiaries.
You can use phones from before 2015 on GSM carriers as well; however, you’ll have to make sure that they have they necessary radios and hardware support for calling, text messages, and 4G LTE data.
Use a third-party service
Straight Talk, just like other carriers out there, has some red tape in place that makes it difficult to unlock a phone. There are requirements you have to meet, and if you don’t meet them, your unlock request is denied. Luckily, as a last resort, you can use a third-party service to unlock your smartphone. Using a third-party unlocking company can get your phone operating on another network in no time, and without all of the red tape from your carrier. It does usually cost some money, which can range from a couple bucks all the way up to an average of $60.
You’ll want to search around and research good companies for this, though. Make sure they’re reputable, otherwise you might end up handing your money to one in return for, well, nothing. Once you purchase a code, it’s usually sent directly to the provided email, and then you can follow the included steps to unlock your phone.
Straight Talk’s requirements are pretty few, but still pretty strict. Having to have 12-months of straight pay-as-you-go service is a difficult one to meet as a prepaid service, as not everyone sticks with prepaid for long. So if you don’t meet Straight Talk’s requirements for unlocking a smartphone, you might think you’re out of luck — but not quite. As we mentioned, a third-party service is a great last resort. You’ll have to pay some extra cash upfront for an unlock code, but they’ll enable you to bypass the barriers that Straight Talk puts in front of you.
Have you unlocked a Straight Talk phone before? Sound off in the comments section below.