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How to unlock your Telstra mobile phone

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

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 13 22 00 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 13 22 00 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:


1 - 12 of 314
Name Product Data Price Apply Price
TPG Large
PrepaidNo lock-in contract
$15/mth for the first 6 months, then $30/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
TPG Large
Prepaid
$15/mth for the first 6 months, then $30/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
Finder Award
  • Unlimited national calls & texts
  • Vodafone 4G network
45GB
$15
per month
Go to site
View details
Finder Award
-50%
$15/mth for the first 6 months, then $30/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
45 GB
Data
$15
per month
iiNet Medium Plan
PrepaidNo lock-in contract
$12.50/mth for the first 6 months, then $24.99/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
iiNet Medium Plan
Prepaid
$12.50/mth for the first 6 months, then $24.99/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Unlimited national calls & texts
  • Vodafone 4G network
16GB
$12.50
per month
Go to site
View details
-50%
$12.50/mth for the first 6 months, then $24.99/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
16 GB
Data
$12.50
per month
felix Subscription Unlimited
SubscriptionNo lock-in contract
$20/mth for the first 3 months, then $40/mth. Use promo code FELIX50. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
felix Subscription Unlimited
Subscription
$20/mth for the first 3 months, then $40/mth. Use promo code FELIX50. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
Finder Award
  • Unlimited national calls & texts
  • Vodafone 5G/4G network
Unlimited data
At speeds up to 20Mbps
$20
per month
Go to site
View details
Finder Award
GREEN COMPANY
$20/mth for the first 3 months, then $40/mth. Use promo code FELIX50. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
Unlimited data
At speeds up to 20Mbps
$20
per month
Southern Phone Finder Exclusive
PostpaidNo lock-in contract
$9/mth for the first 6 months, then $24/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 30.6.24
Southern Phone Finder Exclusive
Postpaid
$9/mth for the first 6 months, then $24/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 30.6.24
Exclusive
  • Unlimited national calls & texts
  • Optus 5G/4G network
20GB
$9
per month
Go to site
View details
Exclusive
$9/mth for the first 6 months, then $24/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 30.6.24
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
20 GB
Data
$9
per month
More 50GB 5G
PostpaidNo lock-in contract
100GB/mth for the first 3 months, then 50GB/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 30.6.24
More 50GB 5G
Postpaid
100GB/mth for the first 3 months, then 50GB/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 30.6.24
  • Unlimited national calls & texts
  • Wholesale Telstra 5G/4G network
100GB
$42
per month
Go to site
View details
100GB/mth for the first 3 months, then 50GB/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 30.6.24
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
100 GB
Data
$42
per month
Dodo $25
PostpaidNo lock-in contract
$12.5/mth for the first 3 months, then $25/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Order by 2.7.24
Dodo $25
Postpaid
$12.5/mth for the first 3 months, then $25/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Order by 2.7.24
  • Unlimited national calls & texts
  • Optus 4G/3G network
25GB
No excess data charges
$12.50
per month
Go to site
View details
$12.5/mth for the first 3 months, then $25/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Order by 2.7.24
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
25 GB
Data
$12.50
per month
TPG Small
PrepaidNo lock-in contract
$10/mth for the first 6 months, then $20/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
TPG Small
Prepaid
$10/mth for the first 6 months, then $20/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
Finder Award
  • Unlimited national calls & texts
  • Vodafone 4G network
12GB
$10
per month
Go to site
View details
Finder Award
-50%
$10/mth for the first 6 months, then $20/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
12 GB
Data
$10
per month
amaysim 32GB Plan
PrepaidNo lock-in contract
64GB for $10 for the first recharge, then 64GB for $30 for the next 2 recharges. Reverts to 32GB/recharge after. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 2.7.24
amaysim 32GB Plan
Prepaid
64GB for $10 for the first recharge, then 64GB for $30 for the next 2 recharges. Reverts to 32GB/recharge after. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 2.7.24
  • Unlimited national calls & texts
  • Optus 5G/4G network
64GB
$30
per 28 day recharge
Go to site
View details
64GB for $10 for the first recharge, then 64GB for $30 for the next 2 recharges. Reverts to 32GB/recharge after. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 2.7.24
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
64 GB
Data
$30
per 28 days expiry
Catch Connect 365 Day Plan 60GB
PrepaidNo lock-in contract
$89 for the first recharge, then $120/recharge. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 2.7.24
Catch Connect 365 Day Plan 60GB
Prepaid
$89 for the first recharge, then $120/recharge. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 2.7.24
  • Unlimited national calls & texts
  • Optus 4G/3G network
60GB
$89
per 365 day recharge
Go to site
View details
$89 for the first recharge, then $120/recharge. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 2.7.24
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
60 GB
Data
$89
per 365 days expiry
iiNet Extra Large Plan
PrepaidNo lock-in contract
$20/mth for the first 6 months, then $39.99/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
iiNet Extra Large Plan
Prepaid
$20/mth for the first 6 months, then $39.99/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Unlimited national calls & texts
  • Vodafone 3G/4G/5G network
55GB
$20
per month
Go to site
View details
-50%
$20/mth for the first 6 months, then $39.99/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
55 GB
Data
$20
per month
Belong 40GB
PostpaidNo lock-in contract
Belong 40GB
Postpaid
  • Unlimited national calls & texts
  • Wholesale Telstra 5G/4G network
40GB
No excess data charges
$35
per month
Go to site
View details
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
40GB
Data
$35
per month
Coles $195
PrepaidNo lock-in contract
175GB for $159 for the first recharge, then 140GB for $195/recharge. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 25.6.24
Coles $195
Prepaid
175GB for $159 for the first recharge, then 140GB for $195/recharge. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 25.6.24
  • Unlimited national calls & texts
  • Optus 4G network
175GB
$159
per 365 day recharge
Go to site
View details
175GB for $159 for the first recharge, then 140GB for $195/recharge. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 25.6.24
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
175 GB
Data
$159
per 365 days expiry
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Written by

Alex Kidman

A multi-award winning journalist, Alex has written about consumer technology for over 20 years. He has written and edited for virtually every Australian tech publication including Gizmodo, CNET, PC Magazine, Kotaku and more. He has also been the Editor of Gizmodo Australia, PC Mag Australia, CNET.com.au and the Tech and Telco section at Finder. Alex has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New England and a serious passion for retro gaming. See full profile

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