Switching back and forth between phone providers
July 5, 2015 11:00 AM   Subscribe

I have an Iphone 5s that I'm using with Ting, a pay-as-you-go service that uses the Sprint network. So far, I'm very happy with the arrangement. In August, however, I'm planning a month-long visit to a location not covered by Sprint. According to local residents, AT&T provides the best coverage in the area.

My question: should I buy a pre-paid phone from an AT&T affiliate, e.g. Cricket, to use during my visit, which I would deactivate after returning home? Or, would it be feasible, and not too expensive or risky, to switch my Iphone over to Cricket for a month and then switch it back after returning home?
posted by saywhat to Technology (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why not just buy a pre-paid sim and a flat rate unlimited 30-day plan from one of the multiple pay-as-you-go providers that uses AT&T and use it in your current phone? (There may be something that prevents this - I know nothing about iPhones, I've just had Androids.)
posted by stormyteal at 11:28 AM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

On the feasibility of using your iPhone: if it was bought through Ting or Sprint, it's going to be locked so that it can't use AT&T's GSM network. Getting it unlocked by Ting/Sprint can be tricky. If it was bought "SIM-free" and unlocked, you should be good to go with a pre-paid SIM.

Do you need cellular data coverage on your visit? If not, then a cheap used GSM dumbphone may suffice.
posted by holgate at 11:32 AM on July 5, 2015

Ting now has GSM coverage with T-mobile, if you'd like to not have to mess with an additional carrier. You might check the coverage there. It'd be $6 for the additional line, and it'd use the same bucket o minutes/text/data that your current phone uses, with the ability to cancel the line when you were done with it. Check with them, and then pick up a cheap dumbphone or whatever used phone would meet your need. I use ting and just switched from sprint to t-mo coverage with them. It was pretty painless.

If the iphone can do gsm AND cdma, then just get the new sim from ting. I ported my number to the new sim, though if you set up a google voice number, you can have folks call it and it'd go to both.
posted by HermitDog at 12:12 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've had really good luck traveling with ting...I believe they also roam (for free) on the Verizon network. Maybe wait til you get there before going through the expense/hassle of getting a new phone/plan/etc.
posted by sexyrobot at 2:33 PM on July 5, 2015

I was recently able to unlock a Sprint iPhone to use on Ting with the SIM card/T-mobile/GSM coverage. I purchased the phone used. Perhaps I was just lucky, but I simply called Sprint and said "I have an iphone 5c and I would like you to unlock the SIM." (There's MSL unlocking and SIM unlocking, SIM is what's needed for this.)

They asked where I got the phone (since I had to choose the voice menu option for non-customers) and I said "I bought it from someone who had already paid it off completely" or something like that. And then they put me on hold for a bit, and then on hold again while they consulted with someone else, and then my phone was unlocked.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:30 PM on July 5, 2015

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