How to Switch Phone Carriers and Keep Your Number

Sometimes, circumstances arise when you have had the same cellular phone number for a long time. You might have kept that number while you have moved from one city or state to another. You may also have kept your number while you have gone through multiple different cell phones. You find the number easy to remember, and you couldn’t think of getting rid of it. Now, however, you’re switching service providers. Can you keep that number? It is indeed possible, so let’s take a few moments to explain how you can do it.

How to Switch Phone Carriers and Keep Your Number

The Practical Reason for Keeping Your Phone Number

We’ve talked about how you can grow attached to your number after having had it for a considerable length of time. There’s another reason that you might not want to make the change, though.

If you end up getting your number changed, you’re probably going to have to go down your list of contacts and text each one of them to let them know that your number is changing. If you have a lengthy list of individuals and entities with whom you correspond, then this is going to be tedious and time-consuming. It is for that reason rather than any sentimentality involving the number that you might wish to keep it.

The Porting of Mobile Numbers

Letting Contacts Know Your Number is Changing

When discussing changing your old phone number to a new carrier, what we are talking about is something called “porting” by the cellular phone industry. Porting is the technical term for transferring an existing number to a new phone.

If you want to keep your number but switch it over to another network, then you need what is called a Porting Authorization Code, or a PAC. You get it from your old provider, and you then notify your new provider of it when you’re getting ready to make the switch.

How to Get the Process Started?

The first thing you’ll do is notify your existing carrier that you’re switching over. They might try to take steps to keep you with them, but if you’re adamant that you’re leaving, they’ll have no choice but to comply with your request. 

You can either call or text your provider and let them know that you need a PAC. Your provider has two hours to give you that code. This is a timeframe stipulated by the telecommunications regulator. Keep this in mind if your current provider is dragging their feet for some reason.

Your current network will probably have a few questions for you to verify your identity. Give them whatever answers are required. They might ask you for things like your current billing address or the credit card number they have on file for you.

PAC numbers are usually nine digits, and they should be valid for up to 30 days from the time that they’re issued. Once you have that code, you should take steps to expedite this process. If you haven’t completed the switch to the new provider by the time the 30 days are up, you’ll need to get a new code.

Contact Your New Phone Carrier with the PAC

Next, you’ll reach out to your new service provider. This process is basically the same whichever new network you are joining. It could be Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, etc. They’ll be looking for that PAC number from you, and until they have it, the process will be at a standstill.

Once you have given them that number, it will get the ball rolling. Your new network, with the code in their possession, will contact your old one. They’ll schedule the switch, which will typically take place within one working day. While you’re waiting, make sure to keep your old SIM card in your phone. That will ensure that you can keep getting calls and texts at your number, and you won’t miss anything important.

If you happen to be making the switch on the weekend, then the porting process might take a day or two longer than it would otherwise.

Get Cash For Your Used Phone We buy used and broken phones for top dollar! Get free shipping, a 14-day price lock, and our highest price guarantee. GET A FREE QUOTE

Check to see that the Switch Between Phone Carriers Has Worked

Within a day or two, the switch should have been made. You can now have someone call or text you on your old phone, but via your new network. If the texts and calls come through, then you’ll know that the switch has worked, and the process is complete. You can officially terminate your contract with your previous provider if you have not yet done so.

What if You Don’t Care About Keeping Your Old Number?

Maybe this whole process sounds like more of a pain to you than it is worth. If so, you can forego this option and get a new number. If you’re going that route, all you have to do is get a Service Termination Authorization Code, also called a STAC. You can get one from your old provider by texting 75075. This is a standardized number that works regardless of which network you are on. You can then get assigned a fresh number from your new cellular carrier.

There are a few additional questions that people often ask when it comes to porting. We’ll answer some of those right now.

Will I Lose Service at Any Time During the Porting Process?

Your SIM Card Must Be Kept in Your Phone

The porting system is set up so that “downtime” for your number is minimized. It isn’t likely that you will miss a call or a text, provided that you keep your phone with the SIM card in it while the switch is taking place between providers.

Is It Possible to Transfer a Disconnected Number?

It could be that you’re thinking of getting rid of your old number and being assigned a new one as you’re switching providers. Once the old number has been switched off, though, is there a way to retrieve it if you suddenly change your mind?

The answer to that question is no. Once a number has been discontinued, it is effectively dead, and you cannot get it back. You can’t transfer disconnected numbers, meaning that you should be sure of your decision if you cancel your contract. Once that contract is terminated, that number is gone for good.

What About Transferring Music, Apps, and Games to the New Provider?

Maybe your new contract and service provider comes with a new phone, or perhaps you’re keeping your old one. In either case, though, porting your number will not have any effect on things like your phone settings, contact lists, apps, games, etc.

If you are keeping your old phone and SIM card, then there will be no need to make any further adjustments to maintain all of your old settings. If you are getting a new phone, but you wish to keep your old settings, then there a few different ways to do that. If you’re able to keep the SIM card from your old phone, then you can transfer it over. That will allow you to maintain your settings.

Back Up Your iPhone Data with iCloud

If you are getting a new phone, and you’re not able to bring along the SIM card from the old one, then you’ll need to take steps to ensure that your apps, games, music, and settings make the switch. If you have an iPhone, then you can either back up the data and switch it through iTunes or iCloud. With an Android setup, you’ll need to use your Google account.

Switching Phone Carriers While Keeping Your Number is Easy

Now, you have all of the information that you need in order to switch your number between phone carriers. The process is not very difficult, so there should be no reason for you to lose your number if you want to hold onto it.   

Related Content

Switching Phone Carriers – The Complete Guide

Switching Phone Carriers – The Complete Guide

If you have a cell phone, then in order to enjoy all of its features, you need a cellular service provider. There are so many carriers, though, that it can be hard to choose between them. Once you have, hopefully, you’ll be content with the level of service you are...

How to Switch Phones on Sprint- The Comprehensive Guide

How to Switch Phones on Sprint- The Comprehensive Guide

If you have been using Sprint as your cellular service provider, then you’re probably pleased by the competitive prices for their limited and unlimited data plans. Sprint makes a lot of sense for individuals who want to save a little money over some of the other...

How To Change Phone Numbers

How To Change Phone Numbers

If you have owned a cell phone for a while, then a situation might arise where you’d like to change phone numbers. There are several potential scenarios where that makes the most sense for you. Luckily, doing so is not particularly difficult. In this article, we’ll...

5G Networks – The Ultimate Guide

5G Networks – The Ultimate Guide

The revolutionary 5G cellular network service we've been hearing about for years isn't quite there yet. But each month, 5G networks grow bigger around the country. Currently, all four nationwide U.S. carriers offer some version of consumer 5G service. Along with this,...

5G Compatible Phones – The Ultimate Guide

5G Compatible Phones – The Ultimate Guide

Nearly every phone manufacturer is working on 5G right now. 2020 is the big year, and by the end of it, it’s likely we’ll see 5G releases from all the major players in the industry. Now’s the right time to start considering whether it’s time for you to upgrade since...