Wireless Service

How to Unlock Your Cricket Wireless Phone

By
Kyle Reyes
October 19, 2022

Cricket Wireless makes sure that unlocking your Cricket phone is an easy and straightforward process. What comes next, however, bears some considerable consideration. The only real reason why you would unlock your phone is that you are switching plans to another one, and from there, your options open up. There are a ton of excellent wireless providers out there and a lot of them have a variety of plans that are unique in their offerings and the price at which they are offered. 

This article will walk you through the process to unlock your Cricket phone as well as talk about some of the options for where to switch if you have not yet made up your mind. 

How to Unlock Your Cricket Wireless Phone

Unlocking your Cricket phone is a necessary step in switching to a new cell phone provider. The process, fortunately, is pretty easy! 

In order to unlock your Cricket phone, you have to meet a set of criteria put in place by the company. Nothing to worry about, really. These rules are set in place to be fair to both the company (you can’t buy a phone and dip out right away) and to you (once you own your phone it’s a pretty easy process to unlock it). This section will cover all you need to know so you can unlock your Cricket phone at your leisure, whenever the time is right. 

Cricket Wireless Unlock Requirements

Before you are able to unlock your Cricket phone, there are a few requirements you need to meet. They are as follows.

  • Your device has been active for at least six months on Cricket’s network
  • Your device is currently locked to Cricket’s network
  • Your device is not reported lost or stolen
  • Your account is in good standing

As long as you meet all of these requirements, you are good to go! One of the ways in which you can run into some trouble is if you have a phone payment plan, and that plan is not concluded. Until you have your phone fully paid off you won’t be able to unlock it. You can always request to pay it in full if that is the case. 

How to Request an Unlock Code

There are a few ways to reach out to Cricket Wireless to unlock your Cricket phone. 

  • You can reach out to their customer service via telephone, email, or a live chat on their website. All of these options connect you to a representative who can guide you through the process. 
  • You can log into your Cricket Account and request a code through your account settings. 

Prior to starting this business, make sure to gather your account information. 

How to Unlock Your Android Phone on Cricket

After getting your unlock code from Cricket, you can go to the second part of the unlock process. The second phase of this process is very easy! You just go to your myCricket app, sign out, and select Unlock Device. Once you’ve unlocked it all you have to do is power down your phone and it should be ready for your new carrier!  

How to Unlock Your iPhone on Cricket

Unlocking your Cricket iPhone is an easy process! Once you have confirmation that our phone is unlocked, you can remove your Cricket SIM card from your phone and power it down. Once there, you can put in your new SIM card, boot up your phone, and you should see the “Welcome” screen. From there you can follow the prompts to activate your phone on your new carrier! 

Following these steps, you should be able to fulfill the unlock and switch with no problems at all! That being said, we recommend completing this process with a friend nearby just in case anything goes sideways. In the middle of this process, you will have no way to use your phone, as it is not tied to any network. Having a friend nearby ensures that you can still call the customer support line if you need to! 

They are more than equipped to deal with any simple problems that might not be evident on your end. Hopefully, the process is completed with no problems at all!  

Don’t Cancel Your Service too Soon! 

In just a moment, we will cover the big question of where to switch. Before we get there, it is important to note that you should not cancel your old plan before starting your new plan. If you cancel, the company can deactivate your phone number, and if that happens — you’re sunk. Under most circumstances, your new provider handles just about all of the communication with your old provider to cancel your service. It is recommended, however, to give them a call to confirm after you’re up and running on your new provider. 

How to Change Carrier and Keep Your number

When you switch your carrier it is always nice to keep your same number! That saves you the trouble of going and inputting all your contacts again and informing everyone about the new number. 

The process of unlocking your phone means that you are probably looking to switch to a new carrier. Do you want to keep your old number when you make the change? If you aren’t sure how to proceed, check out our article here that covers the topic in depth! We’ll walk you through the process, briefly, to show you the general steps you can take to keep your number after you unlock your Cricket phone. 

Porting Your Phone Number

When you switch carriers, step one is to check your eligibility. Almost every number works on every network, but it pays to double-check before you begin this process. There are a few cases where this is not possible, but you can look up a provider’s transfer eligibility portal, or something similar, to confirm whether or not you can make the change. When you’re shopping around for a new carrier, you should always check the eligibility to make sure your number works on the new carrier. If a carrier doesn’t allow transfers from your current carrier, well, it’s out of the running. 

Once you’re set on your new carrier and you know that you’re eligible for a transfer you’re all set to purchase a new plan. There are often ways to do this online, but we recommend visiting a store or getting on the phone with an agent in order to make sure that you’re taking the right steps. This process should be easy, but there always seems to be some unforeseen complication. 

Have your current account information on hand when you purchase your new plan. If you are keeping your current phone, they may ask for the phone’s ESN/IMEI number, which is found in the settings under device info. After you iron out the details with your new provider, they should handle the rest. They will contact your current company and begin the process of changing your plan and keeping your phone number. 

If your phone has a SIM card, you might need to swap it out for a new one, courtesy of the new company. There will most likely be a few hours (up to a day) of time when your phone is offline. This is the time it takes for your two carriers to dot their i’s and cross their t’s. After that, you’re all done! Congratulations! You’ve got a new service provider and your phone is up and running.

Where to Switch to?

Picking the right phone carrier is a lot like a fork in the road! Both paths are nice, but only one of them is the right one for you! 

Before you unlock your Cricket phone we recommend doing the research to figure out where you want to go next. You want to make sure that you understand what different providers have to offer. Of the major wireless networks, each one has an interactive coverage map that you can check to see which provider has the best coverage in your area. While cities are almost always covered by every provider, if you live in a more rural area, checking to see what coverage map has the strongest signal around you is worth your while. 

As you noodle around the websites, there is no better time to check out the deals for new customers. While we generally don’t recommend going with a certain carrier based on a one-time deal, if they make you an offer you can’t refuse… 

Make double sure that this offer does not come with any strings attached, forcing you to pay more in the future. As you look around the websites, one question to ask yourself: Do you want to go with a major carrier or an MVNO?

Major Carrier or MVNO?

This section is for those who are still uncertain whether an MVNO or a major carrier is best. In this section, we will talk about the difference between a major carrier and a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), and briefly hit on the pros and cons of each. 

What is an MVNO?

Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) are phone companies that operate through another company's network. The major networks in the United States are AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and US Cellular. MVNOs don’t have networks of their own, rather they rent out the bandwidth on another network. This allows them to offer much cheaper prices, as they do not have to construct and maintain cell towers. They are also generally much smaller companies. 

Over the years, MNVOs became a very popular and viable option for getting a quality phone plan. This section will discuss how they work as well as some pros and cons of using an MVNO instead of a major cellular network. 

An MVNO is a phone company that supplies phone plans but does not have a network of its own. MNVOs piggyback off of existing cell phone towers of one or multiple major network providers. Cricket only uses AT&T’s network, but others, like Google Fi, utilize multiple networks depending on where they have the best coverage. This will result in customers either getting assigned a network based on where they are located, or, with certain devices, switching from network to network based on which one is fastest where they are. 

MVNO customers have access to the same high-speed network as customers of the parent network, but since the parent network’s customers are prioritized, sometimes their cellular runs slow.

The Case for a Major Carrier

Major carriers own and operate their own cell phone towers. This means that you get the fastest service at all times, and know exactly where your service is coming from. Major carriers are, well, big. They have a huge staff of customer service representatives and should be giving you fantastic service to ensure that you stick around. 

Perhaps the biggest case for a major carrier is the deals, the offers, and the bundles. If you are currently a customer of a major carrier or are considering switching to one, make sure to comb their selection of deals and offers to see if there is one that will save you money in other areas. 

The Case for an MVNO

Even though their name is a bit of a mouthful, mobile virtual network operators are able to offer much lower monthly plans because they are renting cell phone towers and have fewer expenses than major wireless companies. The major downside is that they don’t have priority service. This, in fairness, does not often cause any problems, but if all of the bandwidth is used up, then the major carrier’s customers will get priority over the MVNO customers. 

When you’re choosing between the two, would you rather:

  • Pay more for your monthly plan, have high speeds, and enjoy benefits like streaming services or a new phone at a lower cost, or
  • Pay less monthly for a more focused plan that provides you with (almost always) high-speed internet and no frills. 

There’s no right answer to this question. Having the security of knowing that you have the priority when it comes to mobile data is valuable, and if it is valuable enough to make it worth paying for a major company then go for it! It is, however, good to understand the differences between the two and the pros and cons of each! 

Find the Right Coverage 

Especially if you are in a rural area the different coverages of each company, available to you after you unlock your Cricket phone, could make a noticeable difference in the quality of your calls and the speed of your data over the course of your day-to-day. 

How to Unlock Your Cricket Phone — Frequently Asked Questions

Your Questions, Our Answers

We’re here with this smart doggo to help you with all your questions! 

What do I need to do to unlock my cricket phone?

As long as you follow the steps above, you should be all set to unlock your Cricket phone! You can find the exact requirements on their website, but the most important one is that you’ve had your phone for over six months and it’s all paid off! 

I’ve never heard of an MVNO before, what are they?

MVNOs are smaller and cheaper wireless providers that don’t have networks of their own. Because they use another company's network they are able to price their plans much lower than major networks. Cricket is, in fact, one such MVNO! Their plans are on the cheaper end compared to somewhere like Verizon or T-Mobile. A lot of MVNOs offer plans at a similar price point to Cricket, and some go even cheaper! Limited data plans especially can go for very, very cheap if that’s something in which you are interested.  

I just bought a new phone, why can’t I unlock it? 

Ah, alas, you have to wait six months after the activation of a new phone on Cricket’s network to unlock it even if you pay it off all at once. That being said, you now have six months to figure out the best plan for you and sift through all the options for plans on a major carrier and plans on an MVNO. 

I just replaced my phone through warranty. Can I still unlock it?

Yup! As long as your old phone was ready to be unlocked then your new phone under warranty will be too! The unlock conditions are mainly around phones that have recently been purchased, and your warranty and protection plan do not interfere with that. 

Is an MVNO or major carrier best?

If you are willing to sacrifice the fastest data speeds to save a substantial amount of money on your wireless bill then an MVNO is a great switch. If you can, find a plan that does not hold you as a customer for a long time so you can switch back to a major carrier if you don’t like it!

Kyle Reyes
Kyles Reyes is a journalist from Pittsburgh, PA that specializes in the wireless industry, phone plan comparisons & advice.