Bad luck struck you, breaking your cellphone less than an hour before you have an important phone interview. Your frustration rises fast as you realize you have no way to make the call.

Then you remember, there is an old cellphone collecting dust somewhere in your closet. You scavenge for the old cellphone wishing your SIM card still works and hoping it can be reused on the old phone. 

A SIM card can be reused on most cell phones. Since different size SIM cards have been made in recent years, you will need to make sure your phone accepts the SIM card size you have. The most common sizes are standard SIM, micro-SIM, and Nano-SIM. You may not be able to reuse it if the SIM card is deactivated. 

If you are curious about reusing a SIM card, there are certain nuances you need to understand first. Depending on the provider, SIM-card size, and type of account you have connected to your SIM-card, you may not be able to reuse it. Read this entire guide to determine if you can re-use your SIM card in your situation. 

Can I Reuse a Sprint SIM Card?

A sprint SIM card can be reused on Sprint network-compatible devices. You will need to make sure the SIM card is the correct size for your phone. If your device has a nano-SIM card slot, then you can only use a nano-SIM card. You may have to contact Sprint to activate it or pair it with the new phone. 

If you have a device that uses a standard SIM card slot and you have a nano-SIM card you should be able to get it to work by using a nano-SIM card to standard SIM card adapter.

Unfortunately, you cannot use a larger SIM card on a device that accepts the smaller SIM card types. However, you can use the smaller SIM card types on devices that have larger SIM card slots. 

Can I Reuse a Verizon SIM Card?

Verizon SIM cards can be reused however, they may expire after 12 months of being inactive. If you have a valid Verizon SIM card, you can dial 611 on your phone to connect or reconnect service to your mobile device. After reconnecting, your SIM card will be communicating with the network within the hour. 

There are physical limitations on re-using a SIM card with Verizon, i.e. you cannot use a standard size SIM card on a phone designed for nano-SIM cards. However, you can use nano-SIM and micro-SIM cards on phones with larger SIM card slots by using adapters. 

Can I Reuse an AT&T SIM Card? 

AT&T SIM cards can be reused, but only when you are transferring your number to a new phone, i.e. upgrading your phone. The process is easy, once you receive the new device you just transfer the SIM card from your old phone to the new one. You may have to call AT&T to get things up and running. Before reusing an AT&T SIM card on your new device, make sure it accepts the SIM card size you have (nano, micro, or standard). 

If you are hoping to reuse your AT&T SIM card on a new number, you are out of luck. With AT&T, if you are signing up for a new phone number you cannot reuse an old SIM card for it. You will have to get a new SIM card from AT&T. 

Can I Reuse a Straight Talk SIM Card?

Not only can you reuse Straight Talk SIM cards, but you can also reuse T-mobile and AT&T SIM cards on their network.

If your current phone uses the same size SIM card as your new phone, all you have to do is transfer the SIM cards from the old device to the new one. Straight Talk operates on AT&T’s network and their rules are mostly the same. 

Once you physically transfer the SIM card between devices, make sure all calls, texting, data, and picture messages work properly. If they do not, call Straight Talk customer service for assistance. 

If your SIM card is too large for your new phone or if it has been deactivated, you will likely need a new SIM card.

You will also have to make sure your cellular device is not locked to another network before trying to use a Straight Talk SIM card in it. Note- like AT&T you can only reuse the SIM card for the same phone number (and not a new one)

Can I Reuse a T-Mobile SIM Card?

A T-Mobile SIM card can easily be reused on cellular devices. As long as your SIM card is linked to a T-Mobile number and it fits into the phone you will be transferring it to, it will work. Check your device to determine what size SIM Card it is compatible with. 

Similar to other cellular providers, T-Mobile SIM cards come in 3 different sizes (from smallest to largest):

 

  • Nana SIM
  • Micro SIM
  • Standard SIM

T-Mobile SIM cards come with a SIM Card adapter. If you have a phone that works only with a standard size SIM card, and you have the nano-size, you can snap it into the standard size adapter and use it in your device!

Can You Reuse a Deactivated SIM Card?

Some carriers do not allow you to reuse deactivated SIM cards. Depending on the carrier, the SIM card may be deactivated for different reasons. The below table references the major carriers’ policies on deactivated SIM cards. 

Network/Carrier Policy on Deactivated SIM Cards
Carrier:SprintVerizonAT&TStraight TalkT-Mobile
SIM reusable after  deactivation?YesYesNoNoNo
NotesUnless it is active with another deviceOnly reusable 52 days after deactivationOnly reusable with original phone #Only reusable with original phone #Only reusable with original phone # 

Your mileage may vary, however, with some people reporting that certain carriers did reactivate SIM cards after stating they could not after requesting to speak to a supervisor. It appears that there is no technical limitation on re-activating SIM cards, but a limitation by policies imposed by the service provider. 

How Do You Know if a SIM Card Has Been Deactivated? 

You can easily determine if your SIM card has been deactivated by putting it into your cellular device. If your phone does not pick up any connection, then the SIM card is deactivated. You may also receive an alert that states the SIM is invalid or the SIM card has failed. 

What Causes a SIM Card to be Deactivated? 

A SIM card may be deactivated for many reasons, most often it happens when the SIM has been inactive for a long period. The length of time before deactivation depends on the carrier. 

SIM Cards can also be deactivated for the following reasons: 

  • If the SIM card has been linked to fraud 
  • If it has been declared lost or stolen
  • The number initially linked to the SIM card was transferred to another network

If you want to keep your spare SIM card activated, it can be pretty difficult. It is best to just get a new SIM card when you require one. SIM cards can easily be ordered over the phone or online, they can also be purchased at brick-and-mortar cellular network retail stores. It is easier and cheaper for the network to just send you a new one. 

Can a Deactivated SIM Card be Reactivated? 

The answer to whether a deactivated SIM card could be re-activated or not is a tricky one. The easiest answer is “no”, a SIM card can not be reactivated. There are special instances where a carrier will reactivate a SIM card, however, it is extremely rare. All carriers will send out a new SIM card to you for use with your cellphone if you have a deactivated SIM card. 

Conclusion

In most cases, with most devices, you can reuse a SIM card. However, there are certain cases where you may have trouble reusing a SIM card. Additionally, depending on the carrier, they may deactivate the SIM card completely after a period of inactivity. Here is a quick recap on issues that can prevent you from reusing a SIM card: 

  • SIM card is deactivated (deactivation criteria is different for each network)
  • SIM card is too large for your cell phone
  • SIM card is too small for your cell phone (can be remedied with adapters) 
  • SIM card is broken
  • The cell phone is locked to another network

It is best to talk with your carrier directly to determine if the SIM card you have can be reused on your device. They will be able to help you and could connect it to your mobile device.