A Comprehensive Guide on How to Switch Phone Carriers and Keep Your Phone

If we can be honest with each other, it makes no sense to pay for a phone service that doesn’t work for you. It’s not just inconvenient but also a waste of resources that you could be utilizing maximally on another provider. Well, in this article, we’re going to share with you everything you need to know on how to switch phone carriers and keep your phone.

Needless to say, switching between phone carriers today is easier than ever, all thanks to the internet. Unlike when people were required to visit the local dealers, today you can complete the whole process right from your home. And not only when you want to keep your device but also when you want to switch phone carriers and keep your number that people know.  

But again…

Do You Need to Switch your Current Phone Carrier?

In truth, you can live on one cellular service for a lifetime if the provider is good. Many people have done it and you could too if you make the right choice when choosing your next provider.

Apparently, we have over a hundred cellular providers here in the United State who want to serve your single account. This is what we mentioned last week when discussing whether you can get a free phone when you switch to Boost Mobile. So, there’s no way you should go on with a poor service even if you’re using one of those free government cellphones.

Anyway, back to switching carriers, there are a number of reasons you might be prompted to make this decision. Some of them are:

Service Availability

This is where the phone service you’re using is no longer available and you can’t make calls, text, or browse. It can happen when you relocate to a new location or if the carrier decides to shut down that particular service, as with AT&T ending 3G.

Quality of the Network

If your current service keeps on telling you there’s “no service”, the best way forward is to switch to the strongest network in the area. Otherwise, the shoddy service will fail you when you needed it most.

Cost of the Service

Overall, this is the main reason why most people switch between carriers. At a time like now, with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, many people are looking for cheaper services that will keep their bills as low as possible.

Phone Plan Structure

In short, this is the number of voice minutes, texts, and data that a carrier provides to its customers. Many people are currently looking for decent service plans with unlimited voice data rate plans.

Upgrading your Current Service

If the free government cell phone companies deem your account no longer ineligible for a lifeline, you’ll have no other choice than to switch to a prepaid/ post-paid service. You can also switch to another carrier if you wanted to migrate to 5G and your current carrier doesn’t have the service yet.

Great Phones Deals

While not many will agree with us, this is totally true. For instance, you get over a dozen selections of free phone when you switch to Metro by T-Mobile, including three iPhones models. Do you want to say you wouldn’t love to have your dream smartphone at a $0 cost?

Customer Service Quality*

Although it’s uncommon, sometimes you might be forced to leave your current provider because of bad customer care. Besides, will you keep on paying where they treat you with contempt or can’t get help whenever you’re experiencing service problems?

How to Switch Phone Carriers and Keep Your Phone

How to Switch Phone Carriers and Keep Your Phone

Now that you have determined that your current carrier is not the right one for your situation, it’s time to try another option. However, do time your switch when the billing cycle with your current carrier is about to reset/ end. Almost all carriers don’t refund the credit of your unused days, especially now you want to switch to a rival competitor.

Secondly, your current phone service account has to be active if you want to move to the new carrier with your phone and number. As such, you’re not to cancel your service with the old company before the transfer completes.

Another thing, several phone providers still provide their service on a contract basis. So, make you’re not on one when you choose to leave. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay early contract termination fees.

Once you’re clear on these three measures, you can now go ahead and prepare for the switch. The seven steps for the process include:

Revisit your Past Bill Statements

The idea here is to track your previous phone usage so that you can choose the right plan with your next provider. Therefore, you’ll need to get the billing statements of your last three to six months, analyze them, and then determine what fits your situation. Otherwise, you might be paying for the unlimited plan, which is the most expensive, yet your consumption is under 20GB.

Compare the Best Phone Plan Structure and Deals

Once you have the details of your average monthly phone usage, you can check the options of carriers you have and compare the best. Remember, each provider has its unique strengths, weaknesses, and extra perks. After shortlisting to about five names, you can compare them side by side until you have two favorites, and finally the ONE.

Please note, mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) usually don’t have cell towers of their own to send out the frequency bands. So, they often partner with the major carriers to use their network (just like retailers). The good thing is that these MVNOs are usually cheaper, but, sadly, at the expense of the network quality.

Regardless, many MVNOs are still able to guarantee a quality network service while still maintaining reasonable pricing.

Check Your Phone Compatibility

If you remember, this article is on how to switch phone carriers and keep your phone, which we commonly call BYOD.

BYOD or simply “bring your own device” is a policy where a carrier accepts a phone other than theirs on their service. In other words, it’s where the phone providers allow you to join their service with your preferred phone. It’s a great incentive as many of the devices that some operators stock, especially those on the lifeline program, are outdated models.

Even when a company has a BYOD option, your phone still needs to be compatible with their service. Luckily, you’ll find the online compatibility checkers on their websites, whereby you just input your device IMEI or MEID.

Please note, your phone also needs to have an unlocked carrier to read SIM cards other phones. If not, make sure you contact your old provider beforehand and have them unlock it for you.

Set up Your Phone Number

After identifying your device ID and confirming compatibility, the next step is to set up your number with your new carrier. There are two ways you can go around this: get a new number or transfer the one you were using to the old service.

If you decided to keep your old number, you’ll need to provide the account details of your previous provider. This includes the name, billing address, account number, and PIN/ password. The new provider will now call the old one and the number transfer will begin. It usually takes a few minutes or hours to complete, but the provider will notify you once it’s done

In case you decide to switch to the new carrier with a brand-new number, this step is as easy as ordering a line (varies with carriers). You can buy the SIM card/s from the prepaid carrier store or major retailers like Amazon, Walmart, or Target.

Purchase a phone Plan with your new Carrier

After ordering the SIM card, you can go ahead and choose a phone plan that suits you. The step should also be easy since you have analyzed your past credit billing statements and determined your average cell phone usage.

More on that, make sure you choose the recommended plan if you wish to get one of the free-phone-switcher deals. The offers are usually limited to particular promo rates, which means choosing the wrong one will automatically disqualify you.

Activate Your New phone service

Once you have the SIM card from your new carrier, you won’ be able to use it until you complete the activation. So, you’ll need to insert the SIM into the phone and follow the activation guidelines given by the carrier.

If it’s Cricket Wireless, you’ll need your order number and phone number (used to place the order) to complete the activation. The best part is that this carrier doesn’t rush you to activate your line as some do. You could even continue to use your current service until it’s about to reset to ensure none of your credit gets lost.

Note, other carriers will require you to complete activation in Step (5) when purchasing the voice data plan. So, you have to be conversant with your operator’s requirement to avoid your credit ending up unused while waiting for the SIM to arrive.

Now Cancel Your Old Carrier Service

As was mentioned, you’re not to cancel your service with the old carrier until the transfer completes. If your account is closed before time, the new operator won’t be able to proceed with the transfer and your phone number will be lost.

Regardless, a number port in can take ten minutes or at most twenty-four hours when there’s a service delay. After a successful switch, your new operator will inform you through a text or call. If you don’t get either, you can contact them to confirm the progress.

Once your number is active on the other line and there’s service, the old account you’re switching from should automatically cancel. However, it might be better you call them and confirm the cancellation not to continue paying for a service you no longer receive.

The 10 Best Mobile Carriers You Can Switch With Your Own Phone

Here’s an overview of the ten best prepaid and lifeline providers where you can switch and keep your phone:

Phone carrierType of ServiceHost Network Key Features
VerizonPrepaidN/ANationwide 5GDisney+, Hulu, ESPN+Unlimited & basic plans
T-MobilePrepaidN/AFree 5G accessUnlimited streamingUnlimited Hotspot data
 AT&TPrepaidN/ASuperb network qualityRollover dataLimited 5G access plans
Cricket WirelessPrepaidAT&TFlexible phone plansUnlimited data roamingLimited 5G access plans
Metro by T-MobilePrepaidT-Mobile5G access for all plansFree Amazon primeGifts from brands you love
Boost MobilePrepaidT-MobileAffordable pricing5G coverage accessUnlimited everything plans
Republic WirelessPrepaidT-MobileAffordable phone plansRisk-free 14-day trialCell phone financing
Safelink WirelessLifelineTracFone WirelessGives free smartphoneBring your own deviceFree unlimited texting
Q Link WirelessLifelineT-MobileNationwide 5G accessFree unlimited data & talkBring your own phone
TAG MobileLifelineT-MobileFree smartphone Free unlimited minutesUp to 8GB of free data
  1. Important note when switching to Verizon

When switching to Verizon service, your cell phone will be fully functional after 4-24 hours. You could be able to make calls during the transfer process.

T-Mobile has an ongoing limited-time offer whereby they’ll pay off your device or contract termination fees if you switch to their service.

Similarly, AT&T has a limited-time offer, whereby you get $250 in bill credits when you switch with your unlocked, compatible smartphone.

When you switch to Cricket Wireless, you can continue to use your current service until the last days or you’re ready to activate your Cricket account.

Metro by T-Mobile is providing free 5G phones when you switch to their service from an eligible carrier and activate your line.

When you switch to Boost Mobile with your own phone, you get $10 off on the Go Unlimited plan for the next six months.

Switching to Republic Wireless not only gives you access to affordable cell phone plans. You can also request a refund if you’re not happy with your device or service within 14 days of purchase.

When you switch to Safelink Wireless, you’ll get a free smartphone and unlimited texting, 4.5GB of data, plus 350 voice minutes (varies with the state).

  1. Important note when switching to Q Link Wireless

Q Link Wireless has an ongoing offer, whereby you get unlimited data + talk minutes + texting and a new tablet.

TAG Mobile usually gives up to unlimited talk minutes, texting, and 8GB of LTE data when you switch or register with your own phone.

Common Related Questions:

Can you keep the same phone when switching providers?

Different cellular providers have different plan structures, features, and extra perks. If you’re not contented with your current service, you’re free to switch any time you want. In many of the cases, you could even keep the same phone when switching providers, albeit it has to be compatible and carrier unlocked.

How do I transfer my cell phone number to another carrier?

Switching between phone services is very easy. However, your service account (with the old provide) has to be active for you to successfully transfer your cell phone number to another carrier of choice. The new provider will ask you for the information of this account so that they can start the transfer. Next, you can now purchase a phone plan that suits you and complete the activation online or by calling the customer service number.

Can you switch phone carriers online?

A simple answer, YES, you can switch phone carriers online. You just need to go to the website of your new provider, check your device eligibility, set up your phone number, choose a plan, and activate the line.

What information do I need to switch phone carriers?

If you want to switch to another phone carrier with your current number, you’ll need to have the account details of your old service. That includes your name, (phone) account number, billing address, and PIN or passcode. In some cases, a carrier might ask you to provide the last four digits of your social security number.

How long does it take to transfer a phone number to a new phone?

Different carriers process the number transfer differently. However, most carriers will complete transferring a phone number to a new phone between a few minutes to 24 hours. If you’re porting a landline, the process can take up to four days (as with Verizon).

Can I switch carriers if I still owe on my phone?

In most cases, you have to clear any outstanding balance before you can switch between phone carriers. If you were on a by contract service, you might even need to pay early termination fees, which, sometimes, are very expensive. Even so, T-Mobile has an ongoing offer, whereby they will help pay off your device or termination fees if you switch with your device.

Make the Best of Your New Phone Service

In general, the telecom industry is very competitive today. The good thing is that there are many providers to choose. So, you can easily switch between if you’re not happy with your current service. Even better, the Federal Communications Commission provides that you can keep the same number when switching providers, and the old company cannot deny your request. So, you won’t lose contact with your loved ones.

After completing the move to your new carrier, you can use the first days to test your plan subscription. Just like you do with a phone or TV, try all the features and perks advertised to see if it’s yet another shoddy service or a good one for a lifetime.