How to keep your old phone number when you switch mobile networks

It’s now even easier and quicker to move networks thanks to new rules – though you might be better off taking the more time-consuming route.

I’ve been a fan of switching mobile networks for a long time now. Though most major networks are charging a fortune for your calls, texts and data, you can pay a fraction every month for the same service at one of the many challenger brands.

But until now the process of moving your number across and cancelling your old bill has been a bit of a nightmare. Not because it’s difficult, but because it can often take ages to get to the point where the call centre person will give you the all-important PAC – or Port Authorisation Code – which is necessary to bring your number across.

Well, you can now skip all that chat and get a PAC via text message thanks to changes brought in by the regulator Ofcom – though it might still be worth calling up as I’ll explain below. 

How to switch and keep your number

To get your PAC you now just need to text ‘PAC’ to your old network via the number 65075. It’s the same whichever network you are with. You’ll then get sent your code within a minute. Though I’m not switching I gave this a try, and I was also required to include my date of birth.

You then need to give this number to your new mobile provider. The code is valid for 30-days. Your new network will then sort out everything and move your number over within one working day.

In practice, this means you will start the day on your old network, and at some point that’ll go dead. That’s when you need to swap your SIM card over, which will now be working on your existing number. 

So don’t submit your PAC on a Friday as you’ll have to wait until Monday or even Tuesday for the change to happen. I also make sure I’m not out and about or expecting any important calls.

Why you might not want to use this method

So this new method certainly makes it much easier. Not only is it quicker, but you avoid having to listen to increasingly desperate sales teams trying to stop you from switching away. I know people who will be incredibly grateful for this as they hate those conversations.

But for me, those calls are the reason I’m now paying just £10 a month for 8GB of data with Three, rather than the standard price of £12 for 4Gb – that’s double the data for £2 less!

Each time I’ve called up Three to get a PAC having found a cheaper deal elsewhere, they’ve come back with a huge saving. And two out of those three times I’ve taken the deal. So it really can pay to go through the pain of a 20-minute chat (they really can be painful) for some substantial savings.

My main tip if you do choose to phone up is not to take the first offer. They need to beat or at least match what you can get elsewhere. So do some research before calling, and do take into account extras you might get. I actually use the worldwide roaming and data tethering with Three so I factored in how much they could be worth to me.

Of course, even with a text message PAC request there’s nothing to stop your old network calling up and trying to get you to change your mind, so if you really don’t want to make that initial call you could always give that a go.

Things to bear in mind when requesting a PAC

You can get the PAC before you open a new contract

Just because you ask for a PAC, whether by text or in a phone call, you don’t have to use it. And it’s valid for 30 days. So it’s probably worth calling up and asking for your PAC to see what deal you are offered before opening up a new contract elsewhere.

You’ll get charged to switch if you’re in contract

If you are in the middle of a contract when you try to move networks it’s likely you’ll get charged for however much time you’ve got left, so it’s probably worth waiting until your contract is due to end. You can text ‘INFO’ to 85075 to find out what this cost will be.

You don’t have to have a new number

If you want to switch networks and start again – but still close down the old account at the same time – then you can text STAC to 75075.

Why switching network can save you money

You really can save money either by switching to a cheaper network or haggling on your current price. I’ve written about this a few times, so I’ll let you read more about “virtual” providers out there offering cheaper tariffs with the same signals as the main networks.

MVNOs: The network hack that’ll cut hundreds from your mobile phone bill


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