How to unlock your Telstra mobile phone

Here's what to do if you need to use Telstra handset on another network.

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Key points

  • Network locking is rare these days, especially for contract phones
  • Cheap prepaid phones are the most likely to be locked
  • There may be fees involved to unlock your device if you have been using your phone for less than 2 years

If you own a mobile phone (and let's face it, most of us do) then the chances are pretty good that it's not locked to a specific mobile carrier. There was a time when locking phones to a carrier was commonplace, but these days all phones sold on contract are provided unlocked. You've already signed up to pay for a two year contract, so if you chose to go to another carrier with the handset, you're on the hook for costs anyway.

The exception to this rule is if you've purchased a phone for use on a prepaid plan, and especially if you purchased it directly from your carrier. In that case, a proportion of its purchase price is generally absorbed by your carrier, on the assumption that it will make up for it in prepaid fees. In that case, the phone is locked to the carrier's network, and if you throw in a competitor's SIM into it, it will refuse to function properly.

That's when you need to unlock it for use on all networks, which thankfully isn't too tricky. Here's what you need to do to get a phone locked to the Telstra mobile network unlocked:

How to unlock a Telstra prepaid phone in 4 easy steps

  1. Find your IMEI: The International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) is your phone's unique identifier, and you need it for Telstra to identify your phone. The easiest way to find it is to dial *#06# (Asterix - Hash - Zero - Six - Hash) from your phone. You should see a 17 digit code displayed - write it down.
  2. Contact Telstra: You can unlock your phone online from Telstra over the phone by dialling 125 8880 and following the vocal prompts to go through the process of unlocking your handset.
  3. Pay the unlocking fee: Telstra's charging scheme for unlocking prepaid phones varies a little depending on how long you've been using the phone on its network. If you've been using the phone for more than 2 years there's no unlocking fee. For phones in use on Telstra's network for between 6 months and 2 years there's a $25 unlocking fee, and if it's been in use for 6 months, or you've never activated it on the Telstra network, an $80 fee is charged. This can be paid for by credit card or from your main prepaid credit balance, but not your bonus credit.
  4. Wait: It can take a little time for Telstra to send the unlocking instructions for your handset. Once that's sent through and applied, you should be good to switch to another carrier network at will.

Once it's unlocked, you're free to grab a SIM-only or prepaid plan from the provider of your choosing!

The process is ever so slightly different for iPhone users if you happen to have purchased an iPhone from Telstra on a prepaid basis.

How to unlock a Telstra prepaid iPhone

  • Find your IMEI: Finding the International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) on an iPhone is a little easier, because you can locate it simply by heading to Settings>General>About from any iPhone handset.
  • Contact Telstra: For iPhone customers, Telstra you can unlock by dialling 125 8880 and specifically requesting an iPhone unlock, or by using Telstra's online iPhone/iPad unlocking page.
  • Wait: As with other handsets, iPhone unlocking won't always be instantaneous. Once Telstra's sent through the relevant instructions, it should then be plain sailing for using any other SIM card in your iPhone.

What do I do if things go wrong?

If you hit a snag, or your phone won't seem to unlock, or it all just seems too hard, one particular benefit to being a Telstra customer is that it does operate a large number of retail outlets. If you're in trouble, head into a Telstra store, and they should be able to smooth out the unlocking process for you.

Why unlock?

Unlocking your handset gives you the flexibility to switch carriers, and that's one of the key benefits of a prepaid plan in the first place. It's obviously ideal if you wanted to switch to another carrier network such as Optus or Vodafone, but equally valid for matters such as international roaming.

If you don't mind changing numbers while overseas, you can drop a local provider SIM into an unlocked phone and pay local rates while you travel, but not if your phone is entirely locked down.

The one obvious caveat here is that for any reasonably new prepaid phone that was already quite cheap to begin with, that $80 unlocking fee may not be the best financial step. With many Android handsets now regularly dipping below $100, it may make more sense to simply pick up a new handset, but remember to responsibly recycle or re-gift your unwanted handset if you do.

Put your unlocked phone to good use with a SIM-only mobile plan:

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    JeffMay 8, 2018

    How to unlock a Telstra HTC phone?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniMay 8, 2018Staff

      Hi Jeff,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      As a friendly reminder, while we do not represent any company we feature on our pages, we can offer you general advice.

      To unlock your HTC phone, please steps below:

      – Visit Telstra’s Network Unlocking page
      – Enter your handset’s IMEI number in the appropriate field.
      – Click ‘Submit’
      – You will directed to the Confirmation page. Here, you should be directed to a screen that notifies you of the 72 hour wait period for network unlocking Telstra phones.

      Please note that Telstra often charge a fee for unlocking pre-paid or mobile broadband devices. For phones and modems activated for less than 6 months, the fee is $80. For phones and modems activated between 6 months and 2 years ago, there is a $25 unlocking fee. If you’re a prepaid customer, these payments can be made using your existing credit.

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great day!


  2. Default Gravatar
    AdolfAugust 16, 2017

    I am unable to unlock my telstra NextG prepaid phone.Telstra shop no help. gave me a phone No; to Ring 1300 720 179 but No.seemed to be engaged permanently.

    • Default Gravatar
      ArnoldAugust 16, 2017

      Hi Adolf,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Telstra Pre-Paid mobiles (including iPhone) and mobile broadband devices are locked for use only on Telstra’s network. There is a fee to have your Pre-Paid mobile phone unlocked.

      – $80 for devices activated for 6 months or less, or never activated; and

      – $25 for devices activated for more than 6 months up to 2 years.

      There is no unlocking fee after that.

      To unlock your Pre-Paid Mobile, or check your unlocking fee, follow the steps below:

      1. Press * # 0 6 # on your mobile, and write down the code that’s shown. This is your mobile’s IMEI number.

      2. Contact the Telstra Pre-Paid Unlocking Centre direct on 125 8880 and follow the prompts. If you’re calling from a non-Telstra phone call 13 22 00 and say ‘Pre-Paid’ then follow the prompts. If you’re calling from overseas, call +61 439 125 888 (international call charges will apply).

      3. You can pay the unlocking fee using your main Pre-Paid credit balance (not your bonus credit), via credit card or in store.

      4. You’ll be asked for your phone’s IMEI code and will then be advised of the unlocking fee and payment instructions.

      5. Once payment is completed you will be advised of unlocking instructions.

      Hope this information helped.


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