Unlocked phones are becoming a popular choice here in the U.S. Why? Because nothing beats the freedom of an unlocked phone when it comes to choice of models, carriers or plans.

What is an unlocked smartphone? An unlocked smartphone is a phone that isn't tied to a specific carrier or contract. Therefore, you have the freedom to shop for the latest phones and plans as often — or as infrequently — as you like. Plus, they don't come preloaded with numerous carrier applications that that take up space on your phone. And when it comes to international travel, unlocked phones can't be beat.


It's important to pay attention to network compatibility when choosing an unlocked phone. There are two network standards used in the U.S. and abroad: GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access).


All unlocked phones work on carriers that use GSM networks. Popular U.S. carriers that use GSM networks include AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket, MetroPCS, Simple Mobile and Tracfone. Most foreign carriers also use GSM networks. You will need to use a SIM card from a GSM provider to get service for your unlocked phone.

AT&T logo T Mobile logo Cricket Wireless logo


A number of newer unlocked phones such as the Moto G5 Plus are universal and therefore compatible with all major U.S. carriers in addition to most overseas carriers. You can choose almost any carrier or plan and all you need is a SIM card. Common US carriers include: Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS, Simple Mobile and TracFone. Check with carrier for phone compatibility.

AT&T logo T Mobile logo Cricket Wireless logo Verizon logo Sprint logo
Cell phones


Some unlocked phones may cost more up front compared to phones financed by the carriers, but, spread over time, and combined with a less-expensive voice or data plan, it could be less expensive than your total monthly payments or monthly installment billing contract.

By purchasing an unlocked phone you can continue to use older or legacy voice, text and data plans. This can save you money and allow you to keep the plan you are comfortable with. You can also get financing for your phone using your My Best Buy® Credit Card.

Since there are more unlocked phones you have more options and features to choose from compared with phones tied to plans. You can choose from some of the top phones on the market such as the Samsung Galaxy Note8. There are also many phones that are only available in unlocked versions such as Moto G5S Plus, Huawei Honor 6X and Sony Xperia XZ Premium. If you drop or break your phone there are a number of affordable unlocked options like the BLU Grand M or the Samsung Galaxy J3.

Less than $100 $100–$199.99 $200–$249.99 $250–$499.99 $500 and up


Unlocked phones offer great flexibility to international students, tourists and business travelers. Since international roaming rates with your current phone and U.S. network can be high, buying an unlocked phone for overseas travel can save you money. With an unlocked phone, you'll pay the same lower rate as the locals do for calls in that country. It can be as easy as purchasing an unlocked phone in the U.S., traveling to your destination country and purchasing a local SIM card.

Dual-SIM unlocked phones such as the Huawei Honor 6X can house up to two SIM cards in the same phone. This means you could have your U.S. SIM card and a local SIM card from the country you are traveling to together in the same phone. You could also use a dual-SIM phone at home to maintain separate work and personal lines on the same phone.

Cell phones
SIM card


To use an unlocked phone in the U.S. or abroad, you will need a SIM card for the carrier of your choice. SIM cards are small cards that house carrier and user data within your smartphone. If you purchase a replacement phone or upgrade to a new unlocked phone, you can take out the SIM card in your old phone and pop it in the new one. If your old SIM is not compatible (size difference) or you are changing carriers, you will need to purchase a new SIM card.

Best Buy sells SIM kits that allow you to activate your unlocked phone with a prepaid wireless carrier such as AT&T Prepaid, Verizon Prepaid or Cricket Wireless. If you need a SIM card for one of the major carriers like Verizon, AT&T or Sprint, you will need to visit a Best Buy store to purchase and activate your SIM card.
Cell phones


Purchase your unlocked cell phone with your My Best Buy® Credit Card and accrue no interest if paid in full within 6 months on storewide purchases $199 and up or if paid in full within 12 months on storewide purchases $399 and up.

Geek Squad® Protection

Keep your cell phone working like new with the help of over 20,000 Geek Squad Agents who will get you up and running again if the unexpected happens. You'll be protected in case of drops, spills, cracks, normal wear and tear, or mechanical failure.

Geek Squad