It’s inconvenient and sometimes pointless to change your phone number. It is possible to keep the same phone number even if you change phone plans or carriers. If you left a plan and didn’t keep the number for a new plan, it might be lost forever. Still, the carrier keeps the number, and you can ask about getting your old number back.
Ask about plans before canceling them.
If you want to cancel your phone plan but don’t want to lose your number, you should find out right away. After you cancel, the number goes back to the carrier, and your chances of getting it back are much lower. Most carriers offer options for the phone number, such as parking and porting. If you do not use one of these services, the carrier will take your number and give it to someone else.
When possible, it’s best to talk to the carrier in person to speed up the process. During a store visit, you get a written record of the result, which gives you peace of mind. You can also do the same thing by calling the carrier’s customer service line. Depending on the carrier, you may have to wait longer in the call center before you can get in touch with an agent.
Port the Phone Number
The process of moving your phone number from one carrier to another is called “porting.” You can only transfer the number if it is still working on the old network. For example, if you want to switch from Verizon to T-Mobile, you have to start the porting process before your Verizon contract is over. If the number was not successfully moved, it goes back to the carrier after the contract is canceled.
The Federal Communications Commission requires carriers to let customers keep their phone numbers for as long as they want. The only rule is that the user must stay in the same area, but this is not strictly enforced. The porting is done by the new carrier, but the old carrier has to let the number transfer happen.
Start the process of porting by telling the new carrier that you want to keep the number. In many cases, the carrier takes care of the whole transfer. But the old carrier may need your verbal permission to give out the phone number. It is smart to call the old carrier and let them know that you are switching carriers. This may save time when talking to the new carrier.
After the new carrier has successfully transferred your phone number, you can cancel your old contract and keep using the same number with your new carrier. If you switch to a different carrier in the future, the same rules apply: you must port the phone number before canceling the contract.
Put the Number Down
Most carriers have a service that lets you park a phone number. You can keep your phone number even if you don’t have a service plan. Parking is great if you’re going abroad or don’t need a domestic phone plan at other times. Without a porting or parking plan, the phone number goes back to the carrier and is unlikely to be available in the future.
Parking costs money, and keeping the phone number active costs a small amount each month. If you decide to switch service providers in the future, you can easily move your parked number to the new company. When you start a parking plan, make sure the carrier lets you port the number without charging you extra.