How to Unlock an SIM Card for Free
By Michelle Carvo
Updated October 09, 2017
Devices with a locked SIM card cannot be used to make or receive calls and may also be unable to receive text messages. You can unlock your SIM card by contacting your cellular provider, as carriers are now required by law to unlock SIM cards on request for no charge, assuming that your contract is up.
Unlock a Verizon SIM Card
To unlock a locked Verizon SIM card, use the Pin Unblocking Key (PUK), accessed by logging into your Verizon account. Navigate to the “My Devices” page and click “My PIN and Unblocking Key (PUK)” under “About My Device.” Tap the "Phone" app on your device to access the dialer to enter your PUK number. Enter the displayed PUK number into your locked SIM card Android or iPhone device to unlock the SIM card and then tap "OK/Yes."
Alternatively, take your phone to a Verizon Wireless store to get the SIM card unlocked.
Unlock an AT&T SIM Card
The process to unlock an AT&T SIM card is similar to Verizon’s. Log into your AT&T wireless account and navigate to “My Wireless” followed by “My Devices & Features” and then click on the SIM card locked device. Click “Get Your PIN Unlock Key (PUK).” Launch the "Phone" app on your device, type this PUK number into your locked SIM card Android or iPhone device and then tap “OK/Yes” to unlock the SIM card. If your device is not currently displaying “Enter PUK,” press “*05” and then type in the PUK code.
Visit your local AT&T store to get the SIM card unlocked as an alternative to using the online process.
Unlock a Sprint SIM Card
Sprint offers SIM card unlock services both online and via its 888-211-4727 number. To get the PUK code for your Sprint phone online log into your Sprint account and click “Get My PIN1/PUK1 Unlock Code." Open the "Phone" app on your device to access the dialer, and then type in your PUK code. Tap "Enter" to unlock your device. If you are no longer a Sprint customer but have paid off your device, unlock your SIM card by calling Sprint's support number or going to a local Sprint store.
The SIM card unlock process is roughly the same for other providers such as MetroPCS, Cricket Wireless, Virgin Mobile etc. Log into your online account and check for a PUK code option. Contact the provider over the phone if you cannot find one or visit a local store for assistance.
Michelle Carvo has been writing professionally since 2006, contributing to a variety of websites. She is also a technical writer with extensive experience in Android/iPhone development and PC repair. Carvo holds a Bachelor of Science in computer information systems from the University of Michigan-Flint and works as an IT project manager.