How to switch mobile carriers and keep your number

We're often asked about how you can switch to a better phone plan and still keep your phone number. Happily, this is the easiest part of changing plans.

Can I keep my phone number?

One of the best things about the Australian mobile market is the sheer amount of choice we have. There are currently about 30 mobile carriers to choose from, each with a slightly different take on what makes a great value phone plan.

But the one question we are asked all the time is: How can I switch mobile carriers and still use the same phone number? Don’t I lose my number when I switch.

The answer is no – you never lose your phone number when you switch mobile service carriers. In fact, there are consumer protections in place to make sure you can always access your number.

Officially, the process of moving your number to a new provider is called Mobile Number Portability, or porting for short. The amount of effort you need to put into the process is next to nothing. Here’s how it works:

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Here's how it works:

1. Compare mobile plans and pick the one your need
2. Visit the provider’s website and place an order for a new SIM card. During this order process you will be asked if you wish to port your number and you specify which number to move.
3. Wait for the SIM to arrive in the post.
4. Activate your SIM card either online or over the phone. This usually takes about 5 mins.
5. Make a cuppa and wait for the number port to occur.

It usually takes up to an hour before your service switches over, although we’ve seen it happen in as fast as 5 minutes. What you should notice is that your signal bars on your phone display will disappear and indicate no network connection. At this point you can restart your phone to connect to your new network provider. Job done.

One of the strange quirks of the number porting process is that the switch can take much longer if you are switching between providers on the same network. For example, if you switch from Aldi Mobile to Woolworths Mobile — both on the Telstra network — you might need to wait for several hours or more for the port to take place.

The good news is that your old service will work normally until the moment the port occurs, there is usually no downtime at all, so you don’t have to worry about spending time offline.

You should also note that you don’t need to contact your old provider to cancel your service with them. The number porting process simultaneously cancels your old service without your input.

Ready, set, switch

For most people we speak with, this is the final piece of the puzzle before they are committed to finding the best phone plan. If you own a phone and are looking to save some money, you should check out our guide to the best SIM Only plans. If you’d prefer to run a search to find a plan, start by selecting what you need in the box below.