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When was the last time you changed phone carriers? While many rarely do it, trying different carriers is the best way to find a suitable service. Other times you may be forced to switch, perhaps after relocating. But whatever the reason may be, it will be great if you know how to switch phone carriers and keep your number.
Of course, you can just switch to the new service and get another phone number. Then again, to avoid confusing your friends and clients, it’s always great to move with the number that they already know.
When You May Need to Switch Phone Carriers & Keep Your Number
There are quite a number of reasons you may need to switch from your current phone provider. The most common reason is when trying to cut down the monthly phone bill, especially now the economy has pushed everyone on the edge.
Major carriers like Verizon, as well as AT&T and T Mobile, are pretty expensive to maintain, especially the postpaid service package.
Yes, yes the new T-Mobile Connect starts from as low as $10, which is cheaper than even its brand, Metro. But MVNOs like Tello and Ting that also have $10 phone plans kind of have better monthly allowances.
Apart from the issue of cost, other situations you may need to switch phone carriers and keep your number include when:
- You want a more quality service that you can count on all the time and when it matters.
- The old provider is no longer available in your location. A perfect example is the recent Sprint/ T-Mobile merger, where we witnessed the shutting down of the CDMA service.
- If you want to take advantage of the promotional deals, perhaps Get a Free iPhone When You Switch. Most smaller phone companies that give free phones when you switch, like Cricket, actually require you to move with your number to qualify.
- You want to upgrade to a service with better monthly allowance-perhaps, a carrier with 5G connectivity, un-throttled data, and prioritized browsing speeds. Features like WiFi calling, mobile hotspots, and smartwatch support are crucial today too, and could prompt one to change ships
- You’re no longer eligible for the free government cell phone service and you want to upgrade to a paid service.
How to Switch Phone Carriers and Keep Your Number
Overall, it’s effortless to switch phone carriers and keep your number that people already know. Phone number porting, as the process is called, is available to all types of services, including wireless, wireline, and VoIP providers.
The best part, the Federal Communications Commission provides that your old phone company can’t refuse to port your number even when owed. Then your new carrier is usually the one that does the heavy lifting of the whole process, including contacting your old company to request the transfer.
More interestingly, the process how to switch phone carriers and keep your number is about the same everywhere- paid or lifeline. \
In this section, I’m going to take you through everything required before, during, and after the switch to ensure successful porting.
What to Do Before You Switch Phone Carriers and Keep Your Number
The first stage to successfully switch phone carriers and keep your number is to keep track of the things to have before starting. And these include:
Step 1: Don’t Cancel Your Old Phone Service
Make sure the phone service with your current carrier is active before starting and throughout the whole number transfer process. If you happen to cancel your old service before completing it, the number porting will also fail and won’t be able to retrieve.
Step 2: Confirm your Average Phone Bill
Revisit your past bill statements from the current carrier to make sure you choose the right plan with your next provider. A statement from the last 3 – 6 months should give you a clear picture of your average usage.
Otherwise, you’ll be paying for a 60GB plan, yet your monthly consumption is under 20GB.
Step 3: Gather the Necessary Details
Have all the phone details from your current carrier as they appear on the bill. The said details include the name, billing address, account number (note it’s not the phone number), and PIN or password. Your new phone provider will require them to pass the number port request to the old carrier on your behalf.
Step 4: Confirm the Device & SIM Compatibility
If you’re switching with your current phone via the BYOD (bring your own phone) program, make sure it’s fully unlocked. Otherwise, the device won’t work on your new carrier network. Then when you’ve already switched, the old carrier may refuse to unlock it.
While looking at how to switch from AT&T to Verizon, we saw the make and model of your phone may be as crucial as the IMEI. So, make sure you have all of them in hand.
Furthermore, you’ll want to confirm the network and SIM compatibility of your BYOP device with the new carrier. The SIM compatibility check includes confirming the size of the slot (Standard/ Micro/ Nano) or if eSIM is available.
Step 5: Make Sure Your Number is fit for Porting
You’ll also want to confirm you’re eligible for number porting with your desired new carrier. Most providers let you do that right from the company website. And in the process, the system will confirm your number is associated with wireless device and not already registered with the new operator.
Step 6: Get the Porting Authorization Code
When you have everything else, notify your current carrier you’re planning to move to another provider. The operator will try to convince you to stay with them. But if you have already made up your mind, they will honor your request and give you a Porting Authorization Code (PAC).
PAC is the unique number transfer PIN (or code) that your existing carrier will use to authorize number-porting to another provider. Different carriers have different ways to get the code. But it always comes down to using the mobile app, website portal, or dialing #PORT.
What To Do When (During) Switching Phone Carriers with Your Number
Step 7: Register with the New Phone Carrier
Now, reach out to your new phone provider and let them know of your intent to join with your number. It’s pretty straightforward nowadays when done online, albeit you can also call customer care or visit the dealer (where applicable).
Step 8: Cart Your New Phone Plan
Wait, before number porting starts, you’ll need to purchase a new phone plan with the new carrier. You can make the purchase online, via the automated calling system, or in the dealer store.
Note: the process to order a service plan will also include the SIM card if joining the new carrier with the BYOP program. If getting a new phone too, it usually comes with a SIM already inserted even though you can order a separate card kit.
Step 9: Initiate the Phone Number Transfer
Once you’ve purchased a service plan, the new carrier with ask for the information from your old carrier account you gathered (in Step 3) and the PAC number. Then they will contact your old carrier and initiate the porting process if everything is as it should be.
Step 10: Keep your Old Phone Service Active
Now, as the porting progress, make sure your old phone is still active. You’ll have service the whole time, whereby you can call, text, and browse.
So, it will be best to request the number transfer while the old service is yet to reset/ end. And since no carrier will be willing to refund your credit for any unused days, conduct the process a few days before the billing cycle reset.
Step 11: Contact the Carrier for the Progress
After a couple of hours, the number transfer should be complete and you’ll receive a confirmation text or call from the new provider. If you don’t receive the confirmation, call the company to check on the progress.
Sometimes the number transfer can take a day or two to finish. But this often happens for processes requested outside office hours- say during the weekends.
What to Do After You Switch Phone Carriers and Keep Your Number
Step 12: Activate the New Phone
Once the number transfer is complete, finish activating your new phone using the appropriate procedure of your carrier.
In the case of T-Mobile, you could just swap the SIM card and start making calls immediately. But others like Straight Talk or Verizon requires you to authenticate the device with the SIM to work.
Step 13: Make Sure the New Service is Working
Confirm and reconfirm that everything in your phone with the new carrier is working accordingly. In case of any issues, contact the support team for assistance.
Step 14: Cancel the Old Phone Service
Finally, make sure your old phone service is no longer active to avoid incurring costs on something you’re no longer using.
In most cases, your old service deactivates automatically after the number transfer to the new carrier completes. But it’s best to call the (old) provider and personally confirm the cancellation.
You Must be the Primary Account Owner of the Port
While there are other things I’ve left out, this is everything relevant you should know on how to switch phone carriers and keep your number. The steps, as I’ve mentioned in the beginning, are all straightforward. Then the new carrier gets to do the most difficult task of all: contact the old provider to initiate the number transfer.
As you plan to switch phone carriers with your current number, remember only the primary account owner can initiate the process. Hence, the reason the operator needs the account number, PIN, and other sensitive credentials to verify your old phone.
In the event you’re switching the service while you still owe, the phone provider will approve the request. But you’ll be liable for the debt (some carriers do pay them on your behalf), which sometimes includes an early termination fee.
If you fail to pay the amount owed within the grace period, your old carrier may now involve debt collectors. And if the debt was on device financing, they may end up blacklisting the particular serial number until cleared.