Older devices, including 3G phones, may be unlocked at any store location or over the phone. For a 4G device to be unlocked, it must be delivered to one of the company's stores. In some cases, these require three to four business days to unlock as they are sent to an outside technician. With the exception of requests for multiple device unlockings, U.S. Cellular does not charge for this service, as of June 2015.
As a part of its compliance with the voluntary CTIA Consumer Code for Wireless Service, U.S. Cellular provides unlocking services directly to its customers. The service is provided for all 3G devices and a large range of 4G devices, including Samsung Galaxy and iPhone smartphones.
U.S. Cellular places certain restrictions on its unlocking service, including that the service agreement for the device must have expired at the time of unlocking and that customers must pay the early cancellation fees required in their contract. If the device was purchased without a subsidy being provided by the carrier, then it may be unlocked at any point. Customers can unlock prepaid devices one year after initial activation. U.S. Cellular devices may also be unlocked by non-customers, provided that the device is not registered in the company's records by another user. As well, U.S. Cellular does not provide unlocking services in cases where it believes fraudulent activity is involved.