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How to Switch Your Phone Carrier (And Keep Your Number)

Do you want to switch cell phone carriers but keep your phone number? SmartMove provides a guide to help you prepare to make the switch.

Whether you are switching your cell phone provider to lower costs, improve coverage, or get a better family plan, knowing upfront what it takes to switch to a new carrier makes the process a little easier.

The three major carriers in the U.S. — AT&T, T-Mobile (merged with Sprint), and Verizon — offer step-by-step guides for switching phone carriers, but deciphering everything can be overwhelming.

Here we give you an overview of how to switch to a new service provider, or bundle your mobile with your Internet and TV plan.

Select Your New Service Plan

Go online and select your new plan. Unlimited plans usually offer the best options, such as unlimited 5G, 4G LTE data and high-speed mobile hotspots. Pay special attention to service coverage maps to ensure you have phone service where you need it most. Also, look for new customer deals and phone trade-in options. Take your time researching to find the best cell phone plan for you.

Do Not Cancel Your Service

You may be excited to ditch your current carrier, but do not cancel your service until you have successfully completed the transfer process. This is important because once you cancel your service, you can no longer access your data or old phone number.

Decide What “Switch” Means

In other words, are you keeping your current phone and current phone number, or do you want to start fresh with a new phone and phone number? No switching is required if you want to leave everything behind and start over with a new cell phone and number. Pay off your existing service, close your account, and sign up with your preferred service provider. It’s that simple.

However, you may want to keep your phone number and use your own phone or buy a new one.

If you want to keep your phone number and port to a new device, check with your new provider to ensure your existing number is eligible for transfer.

To keep your current phone, you will also need to confirm the phone’s compatibility with the new network.

Backup Your Phone

Don’t be one of those people emailing your friends for their phone numbers because you lost your contacts. Backup your cell phone before switching carriers to avoid losing contacts, photos, and messages. A backup allows you to restore your data to the new device easily and protects you in case of an error during the switch. It is a good idea to enable your phone’s auto-backup feature for protection in case your phone is damaged or lost.

Create a backup by connecting your phone to a computer and transferring the data or using a cloud-based backup service like iCloud or Google Drive.

Manage Voicemails

Because voicemails are stored with your phone carrier and not on your device, they will not transfer to your new service if you switch carriers.

To keep your voicemails, you must save them as audio files. You can then store those files locally on your phone or on your cloud service (iCloud, Google Cloud, Samsung Cloud, etc.).

Get Organized

Once you confirm your number and phone compatibility, it’s time to gather your paperwork in preparation for the porting process.

You will need the following:

  • Most recent mobile phone bill
  • Online login and password for your current account
  • Service provider and account number as listed on your bill
  • IMEI number from your old phone (serial number)

Keep Your Own Phone

(Ignore these steps if you are buying a new phone when switching service.)

If you already have the latest, greatest Apple iPhone or Samsung Android with 5G and want to keep your own device, follow these steps:

  1. Unlock your phone. Your phone may be locked or tied to your specific carrier's network and cannot be used with your new carrier's SIM card. The unlock process varies from phone to phone and carrier to carrier, so you may need to contact your old carrier to have it unlocked.
  2. Order a SIM card. Purchase a SIM card from your new provider to allow your phone to access the new network. iPhones may use eSIM and will not require a SIM card.

Switch Your Phone Carrier and Keep Your Phone Number

Now that you chose your new service plan and prepped your phone for transfer, it’s time for activation!

The cell phone carriers take it from here. Your new provider will activate your service and transfer your current phone number and data. Although the process may be complete in two to three hours, you may need to allow 24 hours for a full transfer.

Test Your New Service

Make sure your phone is working correctly with your new service provider. Make a call, receive a call, send and receive texts, and use data to ensure everything is up and running.

Cancel Your Old Service

Now it’s time to cancel your previous cell plan. The wireless providers may handle this automatically as part of the transfer process, but contact customer service to be sure.

Stay Connected with SmartMove

Now that you switched your phone carrier, you’ll want to make sure you’re always connected and saving data when possible with great WiFi. With SmartMove, you can keep up with your digital life by ensuring you have access to the best WiFi available.

Whether you’re interested in mobile, cable, or fiber-optic connections, SmartMove can find the right package for your needs — or bundle them together!

Contact SmartMove today to see how we can improve your network’s reliability!

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