Although they regularly roll out the red carpet for new customers, mobile phone networks are often less appreciative of their existing clients.
Threatening to switch networks might persuade your current provider to offer incentives for you to stay.
If they don’t, you’re entitled to join a rival network at any time.
Some people are wary about this, because having to transfer mobile number from one network to another used to be difficult.
Thanks to Ofcom’s intervention, that isn’t the case anymore and you shouldn’t encounter any major issues.
How to transfer mobile numbers
This guide assumes you are keeping the same phone. However, if you’re acquiring a new handset at the same time, you can disregard point 7 below.
- Ring your existing provider and tell them you want to leave. If their counter-offer doesn’t persuade you to stay, pay off the balance on the handset part of your contract.
- While you’re on the phone, request a PAC number. This Porting Authorisation Code is used to confirm your request to transfer mobile number is legitimate.
- The PAC code should be texted to you immediately, and it lasts for 30 days.
- Once you’ve got the green light to leave your old network, purchase the SIM-only deal of your choice.
- Each provider has a unique process for requesting a number transfer. For instance, Tesco ask you to fill in a short web form, providing them with your PAC code and the number you wish to keep.
- Timescales vary, but the number should be transferred within two working days.
- Keep your old SIM in place, to minimise the time your existing number is out of service. Plus, any calls or data made on the temporary number could complicate your first bill.
- Once you’re no longer connected to a network, the transfer is underway. Your current handset will still connect to known WiFi networks, though.
- Power off your handset (the new one, if you’re switching phones as well) and insert the new SIM.
- When the phone boots up, you’ll be temporarily connected to your new network through an unfamiliar number.
- (Anyone attempting to ring your existing number will hear a message saying the line is out of service, or not currently available.)
- Your handset should connect to the new network within a few hours, and the signal icon on your device will reappear.
- Any text messages sent while your number was transitioning ought to arrive almost immediately.
And with that, your existing number has been successfully ported.
The data agreement with your old provider is also over, though there may be some admin to deal with after you transfer mobile number.
Unless your old provider’s data contract ended on billing day, you’ll owe them for a proportion of the current month’s data usage.
This will be deducted from your account as normal.
Once your old account is settled, it’s advisable to cancel any standing orders or direct debits through your bank.
For the first month, you might have bills with both old and new networks – though neither amount is likely to be significant.