BYOD is a wireless program that allows you to keep the phone you already have and use it on a prepaid, no-contract wireless carrier network-offering freedom, flexibility and hundreds in annual savings. You will need to select a SIM Card & Airtime Plan kit that includes the first month of airtime to get started.
Most carrier networks require you to purchase one of their phones. But with BYOD you can use your existing phone, saving you money up front. You can also keep your phone number, enjoy greater monthly savings (vs. typical monthly contract plans) and have the freedom to easily switch plans or carriers without a long term contract and associated termination/switching fees.
If you have an “unlocked” GSM phone then you can use most SIM Card & Airtime Plan kits. See the Compatibility Chart. If your phone is “locked,” you can use it on your most recent carrier’s network or a mobile operator that uses the same network. Alternatively, you may contact your current carrier to learn their unlocking policy.
An unlocked wireless phone is one that can be used with more than one carrier, making it easy for a user to switch from one cellular network to another. When you buy a device from a wireless service provider, it’s usually “SIM locked.” This means the phone will not work on other wireless providers’ networks. Some phones are sold unlocked or a phone can be unlocked if the contract associated with it has been fulfilled (phone paid in full).
The easiest way is to get a spare SIM card from a different network than your current provider, and try it in your phone. A few minutes after swapping the SIM cards – you should reboot your device to be sure – you will see the new network name in the status bar if your phone is unlocked. If your phone is locked, you’ll get a pop-up error message or it will simply not work.
It stands for Subscriber Identity Module and is a small circuit board that is placed in your device in order to identify it to your carrier. The SIM card is used to store data about your account and holds information such as your phone number, security data, and billing information. The SIM card allows you to change cellular phones and keep the same user data. Each SIM card has a unique serial number which needs to be activated before you can use it in a new device. If you are bringing a device to a new carrier, you will need a new SIM that is specific to that carrier.
The SIM card is typically located underneath the battery. It may also be found on the side or top of the device.
There are 3 sizes of SIM cards:
Nano: All GSM versions of iPhone® 5, 6 series.
Micro: Most GSM smartphones including 4G/LTE, Android™ phones and iPhone® 4/4S
Standard: Most basic GSM phones
You can tell by the size – whether you need a standard, micro, or a nano-SIM card. Most GSM 4G/LTE Android™ phones and iPhone® 4/4S phones use a micro-SIM, but not all, so be sure to check the make/model of the device and size of the SIM card. The GSM versions of the iPhone® 5, 6 series use a nano-SIM card. Most basic GSM phone models use a standard SIM.
A SIM card allows you to easily switch your account information between other compatible GSM devices for immediate use. The SIM card also acts as a removable storage card within the mobile device. SIM cards contain up to 128KB of available memory for storing contact names and phone numbers, as well as text messages. This allows for users to easily update a new mobile device with their existing contacts. Note: depending on the service provider, contacts that are stored using a cloud-based service may not transfer to a new device.
GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) is the most broadly deployed standard for mobile devices in the world. GSM phones have a SIM card that stores your account information, and even your phone book, if you choose. When you switch to a new phone, you can simply remove the card from inside the old phone and insert it into the new one.
CDMA stands for Code Division Multiple Access and is a competing cell phone service technology to GSM. In the United States, three leading mobile network operators use CDMA. These phones are locked to one network, and can only be switched to another with the cooperation of both the old and new carriers. Instead of getting a SIM card in the SIM Card & Airtime Plan Kit, an “access code” would be included that allows the phone access to the network. However, with the introduction of 4G LTE devices, SIM cards are now used for CDMA.
For national (US) carriers, AT&T and T-Mobile use the GSM standard, while Verizon, U.S. Cellular and Sprint use CDMA. There are also a number of mobile operators that lease network capacity from these carriers and smaller/regional operators. Check the network compatibly information on this site, the kit package, and/or on in-store signage.
The activation process will differ slightly based on the carrier, but for the most part requires a quick phone call or visit to a website. Just follow the easy directions on the Kit package to get your SIM card activated. Once your SIM is activated, you will be able to add the airtime plan.
No-Contract/Prepaid Wireless is a phone service without any kind of contract. Its main advantages are freedom and control. You’re not locked into a multi-year plan. Most carriers offer a month-to-month payment plan and a variety of options for voice, text and data. There’s no early termination fee if you want to leave and no surprise charges. You also do not have to apply for credit and provide tons of personal information.
You can keep your existing phone number, or choose to get a new one.
There are a number of plan options to choose from. Many carriers offer unlimited talk and text + varying levels of data. Please see our comparison chart or view the plan details directly from the SIM Card & Airtime Plan kits to determine which plan is best for you. Most kits include a monthly plan, but some pay-by-the-day or weekly plans may also be available.
The SIM Card & Airtime Plan kit includes your first month of airtime. Most Kits have a PIN code on the back of the package that you’ll provide by calling a toll-free number or enter on a website. (Details are included in each Kit.)
To add more airtime each month, you will need to purchase airtime reload cards. They’re available at the store you purchased the SIM Card & Airtime Plan kit from or many other retail locations. Some retailers also provide reusable cards, websites, and mobile apps for even more convenient purchases.
These Kits are an “all-in-one” package that allows you to use your current phone on a new plan or carrier. It includes everything you need to easily make the switch including a SIM card (or activation code) and the first month of airtime.
You can find these Kits at several participating retailers in the Wireless section of the store. Click here to find a participating retail store near you.
Many large carriers and smaller mobile operators offer a SIM Card & Airtime Plan kit to make it easy to use their network. Click here to see the complete list and compare offerings.
You’ll need to know a few things about your phone so you can confidently select a SIM Card & Airtime Plan Kit that is right for you. The most important things are:
Is your phone GSM or CDMA? If you have a GSM phone, we have many great options.
What size SIM does your GSM phone take?
What carrier network is your phone from?
Is your phone locked or unlocked?
Once you can answer these questions, you’ll be able to determine the best SIM Card & Airtime Plan kit for you.
An Access code is needed for some CDMA carriers to trigger a new account/number on their network. Simple instructions are included in each SIM Card & Airtime Plan Kit to help you get started.
“Bring Your Own Device” is a broader term that could include phones, tablets and other wireless devices. “Bring Your Own Phone” is just a subset referring only to phones.
Your International Mobile Equipment Identity number (IMEI) is a 14-16 digit serial number which identifies your wireless device. On some phones you can dial *#06# on your phone’s keypad and your IMEI number will appear on the screen. Alternatively, you can look under the battery – the IMEI is located on a label underneath.