AT&T Phone Broken? Here is a Replacement Options

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Broken Cell Phone Blues?

The Story

The story is heart breakingly the similar. You lost your phone, it was dropped. It is acting up, not working right. There is water damaged, out of warranty, physical damage. Whatever the case may be, the result is that AT&T has told you your only option is to upgrade your phone, or maybe your not eligible for upgrade yet so full retail is the way to go. Well fear not fellow cell users, if you have an AT&T service plan, you can get a replacement phone that is brand new for as little as $30 without renewing your contract!

(A personal note: please do not be angry with AT&T if the cell is not covered by warranty. It is the manufacturers that put these requirements, not the wireless carrier. At least AT&T does not have you call the manufacturer for warranty. The company spends millions a year supporting the phones they sell in this way to provide better service.)

Phones to Look For

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The Solution

The solution is quite simple really. Since May of 2009, AT&T GoPhones, or prepaid phones, have been enabled to be used by normal AT&T users. Here is the catch; the phone has to have been released after May 2009. Not bad eh? Provided to the side are pictures of some of the phones offered and what the packaging for the updated phone looks like. To make it simple, if the phone has the blue speech bubble on the right side saying GoPhone and above that it says Preloaded with X amount of money (usually $15 to $50), then you just have to slot your SIM card in and it will work!
Your SIM card lost or damaged with your phone? Well, most corporate owned AT&T store will provide a replacement SIM for free if you ask. Authorized retailers do sometimes, but not as often. Calling into customer service is a bit of a pain since they have to charge $25 plus shipping, but if you're in a bind and the closest store is too far away, managers can override the price sometimes. Personally though, I recommend trying a store first.

The Bonus!

There is a very sweet little bonus to using a GoPhone on a normal account. After about 2 weeks, the system recognizes the phone automatically and adds a bonus 150 minutes to that line. The reason I bold "that line" because these bonus minutes apply to only the one line, so if you are in a family plan, the minutes cannot be used by other people on the account. Also, these minutes do not rollover and are used only after the normal allotted minutes are used, but before any banked rollover minutes are used. (Something not often advertised clearly, but is basic knowledge with AT&T service is that rollover minutes have a life of one year from when they rollover and are added to the banked minutes. That means if you rollover 200 minutes on July 15th of 2011, any minutes remaining unused by July 15th of 2012 expires. Also keep in mine, if you change plans, you could lose some rollover minutes.)

So long story short, AT&T is actually giving you a bonus for using that GoPhone on your account. This is not counting the fact that you can now buy these phones almost anywhere for a VERY reasonable price.

Did you know:

Did you know if you bring your own phone to a wireless carrier and it is compatible with their network there is no contract to start service with that carrier?

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Comments 38 comments

BrianS profile image

BrianS 7 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

Handy hub for Americans with a broken phone.


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 7 years ago from Utah Author

Rumor has it it works the same way with T-Mobile, but I want to confirm this before I write a hub on it.


Laura 6 years ago

Thank you so much! this article is very helpful. My phone is broken, I have no insurance and I'm not interested in upgrating my phone because o change in contract agreetment. I was looking options. Thank you.


Brian 6 years ago

Can I retain my phone number?


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 6 years ago from Utah Author

Yes, the idea is that you just have to swap the SIM, which is where the phone number is connected. In the event that the SIM card is damaged, going to any AT&T corporate store will resolve that. They give replacement SIM cards out for free. Authorized retailers sell them, so any other store may cost.


mikecon 6 years ago

So do I have to keep adding more prepaid minutes to it or does it just function as a regular cell phone that gets billed through my current plan because it has the same SIM card as my old phone?


Bob 6 years ago

Does this still work ?


Avery 6 years ago

I can confirm that, as of late September 2010, this did still work. (Including the bonus 150 minutes.)

My phone was on the fritz, and the phone I wanted was a mail-order only, so I bought the go phone and used it for a week until I had the new phone ordered and mailed to me. Worked like a charm. (They don't sell the (Windows Smartphone) phone that I wanted as a pre-paid, otherwise, I would have just continued on with it.)


carol 5 years ago

thank you so much!


Kaci 5 years ago

Does it have to be an AT&T go phone? Can I not just go buy some cheap one from family dollar that is some brand not many people have heard about?


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 5 years ago from Utah Author

Nope, it has to be an AT&T GoPhone. For 2 reasons. First, most of those phones at Family Dollar are CDMA phones and AT&T is GSM type phones. To make it simple, these are two different technologies that don't work with each other. Second, AT&T and other carriers have locked their phones so that even if the tech is the same, the phones will not work the AT&T network. You can find unlocked phones on craigslist, ebay and at pawnshops, but your best bet for the best priced replacement phone is to get a GoPhone.


erika 4 years ago

I am eligible for an upgrade, but don't really have the money for the upgrade fee, the phone, and a data plan. I've been looking into the LG Thrive GoPhone which is wifi enabled...can I buy that, use the wifi, and not pay for the smartphone data plan?


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 4 years ago from Utah Author

Sorry to tell you erika that because the LG Thrive is a smart phone and AT&T is full of greedy bast**ds you will still have to get the data plan. Having formerly worked with AT&T I can say from experiences from the customer service & sales side, the policies relating to this issue give absolutely no room for wiggling. It sucks. AT&T sucks. I personally hate them and Verizon for what they do to customers. I'm a Sprint fan myself.


erika 4 years ago

ibbarkingmad, thanks for the quick reply. I guess the LG Thrive will not make a good Christmas gift for my boyfriend. :( But thanks for the information. I am considering changing carriers and Sprint is top of the list. The downfall I see is that their phones are much more expensive than AT&T phones. Well, at least I am comforted that my contract with AT&T is over and I'm on a month by month basis. Thanks again.


Cari 4 years ago

Going back to an earlier unanswered question, "do I have to keep adding more prepaid minutes to it or does it just function as a regular cell phone that gets billed through my current plan because it has the same SIM card as my old phone?"


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 4 years ago from Utah Author

It functions as a normal phone so long as the SIM in the phone is associated with a Post Paid account. So to be clear, if you upgrade to the phone that your are replacing then you are a Post Paid customer. The idea is that you don't have to pay an arm and a leg for a replacement. Sadly, I have noticed that most phones are extremely overpriced to begin with. AT&T customer service will tell you about this option, but only after they try to get you do upgrade or do an early up grade (which costs more). The reason I wrote this article is to make life easier for AT&T customers. I fortunately am no longer an AT&T customer, but I have family who are so I try to stay informed to help them and you guys.


srmom 4 years ago

Thanks for your suggestions and sharing insight. I lost my cell (goPhone), and walked into AT&T store, and got a new sim for my back-up phone (my mom's originally) and walked out in 3 minutes transferring all my account and activating. Great tip! Thanks Much!


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 4 years ago from Utah Author

Glad I could help!


Jann Ibay 4 years ago

does this method still work?


lori vancamp 4 years ago

i need minutes on the phone i just actatived please can u add a 15.00 phone card to this number 8109866111 please and thank u


ADude 4 years ago

What the hell people?!?! This dude wrote and article about how to replace your broken phone for cheap! Call customer serivce if you need minutes!


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 4 years ago from Utah Author

I wouldn't have put it so crassly, but ADude has a point. call customer service. This isn't a customer service forum. I just wanted to share a neat trick that could save everyone money. Other than that, I really don't have the time to do AT&T's job for them.


sanrafaelresidents 4 years ago

Thanks for your insight and tips to replace goPhone. I lost my samsung sgh 137 (very inexpensive flip phone) at parking lot and realized that nobody was turning it in or calling me, so decided to get a replacement in order to keep my current number/balance/etc. Your webpage info game me an idea and walked into a ATT store and got a new sim for free (brought my mom's same samsung spare phone that she uses when she visits me), and I walked out getting my account reactivated with a new free sim card by an employee. It was a lot easier to have my number back since I had a same kind of phone to use. Your info here absolutely helped my time and energy to get back to have my phone reinstalled. Thank-you.

On a side note: I decided to buy an extra phone (identical) for my mom for future when she visits and for my own sake just in case I lose it again. Happened to purchase a new one (sealed package) on ebay and decided to use the new one (putting my sim card from ATT store) briefly, then decided to use the old spare one that was my mom's. 2 days later, my sim card recognized/remembered that it was briefly inserted to the new phone (again, the one with Free $15 Credit Ads on the package), and put a credit of $15 on my account even though I switched back to the old phone after deciding not to use it because I needed to add all new numbers that I called last 2-3 weeks. It was surprise extra credit which almost paid the new phone's price. Good Deal!


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 4 years ago from Utah Author

I am very glad this article helped in so many ways!


kate 4 years ago

This is awesome... thank you so much, ibbarkingmad! I have been searching for these very comprehensive answers you have given to my question of what to do to replace my daughter's defunct cell phone! She is 11 and, 5 months into the 2yr contract the crystal display got cracked on the bus. She has been using my OLD cell phone which is also on its last legs and I want to replace it before that one is shot too. It was starting to really look like I was destined to pay minimum of $200 for a new phone which would have been the "cheap" end and far inferior to the broken one. I am going to get an AT&T Go Phone tomorrow & try your tip! AND... when my contract is up in 10 months, I'm going to check out Sprint also!! SO, thank you for THAT tip, too!! I've been with AT&T for 11 years...about 10 years too long!


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 4 years ago from Utah Author

Kate, if you read this, Boost mobile is awesome too. They are the Sprint prepaid company and they are very cheap. I should really do an article on that. Thanks for the feedback!


tooltec34 4 years ago

I have an HTC Inspire 4G phone that was used on a post-paid acct, If I buy a cheap go-phone to set up a pre-pay acct can I switch that sim to the HTC? Will it work?


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 4 years ago from Utah Author

@tooltec34, You will have to contact AT&T Pre-paid customer service to see if you can use a post paid device on their prepaid network. I do know that they do limit what you can take to the prepaid service since I know they will not let the iPhone (other than the original iPhone) be used on their prepaid service.


Lisa 4 years ago

I just broke my new IPHONE and someone gave me their blackberry to use in the meantime. It is a sprint phone. Can I walk into a store and have them activate it for me?


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 4 years ago from Utah Author

The Sprint and AT&T networks are two different technologies so you couldn't use the Blackberry if it is on the Sprint network. There are Android gophones availible though.


freedomseeker 4 years ago

My old AT&T phone is damaged and needs to be replaced,and it's not a smartphone.It's currently on a family members bundle plan.I have heard that as long as i keep up with the sim card i can purchase any AT&T phone i wish as long as it put the sim card in the new phone i can maintain the current number and plan.Is this true?


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 4 years ago from Utah Author

That is true. In fact, even if your SIM card were damaged you could just go to an AT&T corporate store and they would replace it for free as well. If you bring your own equipment to AT&T you are golden. No contract required!


southerstyle49 4 years ago

Today my sons blackberry torch went on the blink I called att & they said I wasn't due a full upgrade until Feb 2013 I said well can I go to Walmart & buy the Iphone they are selling for 149.00 they said yes you can but you will have to pay 250.00 early upgrade fee I about blew my stack, now how would they know if I bought an Iphone at Walmart or off Craigslist, just how would they know if I didn't tell them? Can they tell when I switch my sims card over to the Iphone, be cause we are already on the highest data plan for our smart phones we have now...would it be safe to buy the new Iphpone at walmart & use my sims card in it?


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 4 years ago from Utah Author


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 4 years ago from Utah Author

Southerstyle49, sorry for the delay in reply. The link I posteed may help with replacement phone options. As for WalMart and the iPhone, that price you cite is a in contract pricing. To get a new iPhone you are looking at spending $500 of more. AT&T cannot prevent you from bringing you own phone to the table but you are limited to phones that are compatible with the network. The reason I posted the above link is because new and used Android phones are availible for far cheaper than the iPhone AND they provide just as good or even better functionality, especially for the cost. To expect to get a new iPhone for $150 without signing a contract is just not realistic. Still, I feel Android has more to offer. Check out the above link for advice on getting a good Android phone as well as a comparison of the iPhone to Android options.


freedomseeker 4 years ago

Thankyou so much ibbarkingmad+Feeling much more at ease about my phone situation now+Much appreciation!


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 4 years ago from Utah Author

My pleasure freedomseeker!


Sherrice 3 years ago

Just a heads up, If you are on a family plan and are not the Authorized Account Holder don't go to the AT&T store. They can't sell you a phone without access to the account. Eventually they sent me to target where I just bought a Go phone for about $16

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