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Cell phone sim card question? Answered

I picked up a nice cell phone with a camera, bluetooth, etc, at a Thrift store today for $5.  As far as I can tell everything seems to work , but no sim card though and I have no idea who the original carrier was.
I was thinking I might use it as an emergency  spare to keep in my truck and use one of the pay per minute cards, like T-Mobile or Virgin Mobile.
Is it possible to get a sim card from the carriers or can I use a Network Sim card unlock attachment to activate the phone?
If not, I'm gonna see what the inside of a Motorola Razr looks like.


Yes, it is probably possible to get a sim card for an existing phone, if that phone is compatible with the provider's network. The simplest way may be to get a prepaid phone, set that phone aside, move the SIM card, and tell the provider that you've done so (since there may be features they can configure specifically for your phone).  Theoretically it's possible to just get the SIM card, but to do that you have to go direct to the carrier or one of their stores, and you may have trouble finding someone who knows how to make that sale.

(I lost my prepay phone, and for a while was getting by with an older phone a friend had replaced, using a new SIM card from my carrier. I've since tossed that carrier $25 to upgrade to a phone that has most of what I need -- it does have bluetooth, but I didn't want a camera.)

Alternatively: Most cell phones can still make 911 calls even without a SIM card. If you really only want it as an emergency phone, that may be sufficient. (Though if you want to be able to call an auto repair service, that does require that you have a SIM.)

If you go with prepay, do look carefully at the various plans. The plan that I still think is best gives you minutes with no timeout after you've bought $100 worth -- but BE CAREFUL; that no-timeout does NOT apply to that first $100, so you can't just plunk down $100 immediately and count on it sticking around. (Outside of that bit of gratuitous rudeness, I'm perfectly happy with that carrier -- but I don't believe in giving free advertising if I can avoid it, so they will remain unnamed.) Since you want to use the camera, also look carefully at what the plan charges to send pictures, or check whether you can upload the pictures to your PC locally via bluetooth or cable without having to pay.

Good luck. Have fun.

Note: This is all assuming that the phone is either already unlocked, or is locked to the network you want to buy service from.

If it's locked to another network, you either have to deal with that network or get the phone unlocked.