switching phones

Switching Mobile Providers: The Ultimate Guide to Changing Phone Networks

With so many networks, switching mobile providers can feel like a daunting task. There are a lot of things to consider when changing networks to ensure you get the best deal for you. To help you out, we’ve put together this ultimate guide, covering everything you need to know about changing networks. 

Why switch networks?

Are you wondering why you might even want to switch networks in the first place?

There are many benefits to changing your mobile network instead of sticking with the same provider year after year. Here are some of the most common reasons people choose to move.

Price

One of the biggest motivators for switching networks is cost. 

Which? found that one in three customers were still being overcharged on their bill for their monthly phone contracts even after paying off their handset. 

You could be missing out on a better and cheaper deal by not exploring other options every now and again. 

This is especially true if you were locked into a contract. By not switching to a SIM only deal after your contract has terminated, you could be overpaying for what you’re using.

Data allowance

Another factor to consider in switching providers is your mobile data allowance. Is your current network giving you a fair price for what you get, or are you overpaying for data?

Different providers offer different SIM plans, with varying minutes, texts, and data allowances each month. You could be stuck in a deal that’s not giving you enough minutes, or one where you’re overpaying and not taking advantage of the allotted data you have. 

Depending on what you need, it’s a good idea to browse the sort of bundles and Pay As You Go plans on offer out there. That way, you can find the best deal for you rather than being limited by your current provider. 

Network coverage

Are you struggling to keep your signal, make phone calls, send texts, and more? You could be in a bad area for your provider. 

Not all networks cover the whole of the UK, so if you live in a more rural area, you may struggle to stay connected with certain networks. If your network keeps losing signal, it may be time to look for someone else who covers that location. 

You can use our coverage checker to see if Asda mobile covers your area. On our Vodafone network, we have up to 99% UK population coverage. 

Additional perks

Usually there are a number of perks you can benefit from when you join a new mobile network. You may find better roaming rates, bundle prices, add-ons, contract-free deals, subscriptions, rewards, and 5G compatibility. 

For instance, at Asda mobile, we offer 5G on all our £10 or more bundles, as well as Wi-Fi Calling, and roaming at no extra cost in 36 European destinations. 

It may be helpful to browse the perks of each network so you can make sure you’re going to get the best possible experience. 

Find the right deal for you

Now you know why someone might consider moving networks, the next step is finding the right deal for you. To do this you need to consider your budget, your lifestyle, and how you use your smartphone. 

1. How much data do you need?

While it might be tempting to pick a high data bundle (or even unlimited), you should be sure that you actually need that much data. After all, you don’t want to risk overpaying for what you don’t use. 

If you’ve found that you’re constantly hitting your data cap before the end of the month, you may need to look at a higher data bundle. Meanwhile, if you don’t use your mobile data that often, you could save money by opting for a smaller bundle. 

Monitor your mobile data usage to gain a better idea of how much you need at your disposal. 

We also have a number of data guides you can explore to see which amount would be best for you:

2. How many minutes/texts do you need?

Similarly, you’ll also want to make sure you have enough minutes and texts on your chosen deal to last you the month.

Many networks, like ours, offer unlimited minutes and texts across all our bundles. At Asda mobile, we also have a £4 talk and text bundle for users who don’t need any data.

3. SIM only versus Pay As You Go

Another thing you may want to consider is whether you want to go for a SIM only bundle or a Pay As You Go deal. 

There are many benefits to each compared to a phone contract: 


How to switch networks

So, you know which network you want to switch to and you know which deal you’re opting for. Now, how do you start the process?

Step 1: Are you able to switch right now?

Before you try to change networks, you’ll need to check that you’re in a position that allows you to start switching. This depends on your current network provider and the conditions of any contract or agreement already in place. 

If you want to switch mid-contract, you’ll need to check the small print to make sure you’re not trapped by a huge exit fee. If you’re on a rolling monthly contract, you shouldn’t have any exit fees. 

You can usually check the terms and conditions of your contract through your online account, email receipts, or by contacting your network directly. Alternatively (thanks to Ofcom), you can text INFO to 85075 to find out if you’re still tied to a contract.

If you can leave, just make sure your end date for your previous network and start date for your new network don’t overlap. Otherwise you could end up paying for both at the same time!

Step 2: ‘Text to Switch’

In 2019, Ofcom simplified the exhausting process of changing networks by introducing ‘Text to Switch’, allowing customers to easily leave their network with a text message. 

What message you text depends on whether you want to keep your phone number or not. If you do, you’ll need to get a PAC number from your old provider. If you don’t want to keep your number, get a STAC number instead. 

Step 3: How to switch

  1. Text either ‘PAC’ or ‘STAC’ to your provider’s number (see below)
  2. Receive a text with your code to switch, as well as contract information like early exit fees. It should only take a minute for you to receive a response
  3. Give your code to your new provider over the phone or online
  4. Switching will be completed within one working day

If you can’t or don’t want to text, you may also be able to complete this process online through your account, or by calling your network provider.

How to keep your phone number when switching

To keep your number while switching networks, you’ll need to obtain a PAC code. Each provider will have a number you need to text to receive this Porting Authorisation Code. 

Text ‘PAC’ to:

  • Asda mobile: 65075
  • O2: 202
  • EE: 65075
  • Three: 65075
  • Vodafone: 65075
  • GiffGaff: 65075

You’ll receive a reply by text within a minute or two. In the text you’ll find your PAC code, which is valid for 30 days. 

Once you’ve obtained your PAC code, all you need to do is give it to your new network and they’ll deal with the rest. Your old number will be transferred over to your new SIM within one working day.

How to change your phone number when switching

If you’re not interested in keeping your phone number, or actively want a new one, you can do this by requesting a ‘Service Termination Authorisation Code’, or STAC. 

A STAC code allows you to cancel your old number and contract when changing networks. It’s issued free of charge by your old provider and, like the PAC code, expires in 30 days. 

To acquire a STAC code and make it known that you have no intention of keeping your number when you switch, text ‘STAC’ to 75075. 

Your old number will then be ‘retired’ for a period of time and could then be reallocated to a new user. 

How to keep your phone when switching

Unless you’re signing up to a SIM contract with a new phone, you probably want to keep your current handset. This will save you money, as you won’t be paying off the cost of a handset as part of your contract. 

If you want to continue using your current phone, you’ll need to make sure that it’s unlocked, meaning it will still work with a SIM card from another network. 

Locked versus unlocked

When you buy a phone, it could be locked to the network you purchased it from. This typically means you can’t switch providers, as the phone is only compatible with its original network. This commonly occurs when buying a handset as part of a contract with a SIM.

Despite this, you can actually unlock your phone using a PUK code. Depending on your current network, there are a few ways you can obtain a PUK code to unlock your phone. 

Once unlocked, you are then free to use it with any other network.  

Asda mobile

We’d be happy to welcome you if you’re thinking of switching to Asda mobile. 

Some benefits of joining us include:

  • Great-value monthly bundles from just £4 per month
  • No contracts, so you’re free to change, upgrade, or downgrade your bundle whenever you like
  • Unlimited data SIMs from £20 per month
  • Wi-Fi and 4G calling
  • 5G data bundles at no extra cost
  • Roam like you’re home in 36 European destinations
  • Manage your account, bundles, payments, and data add-ons all from one online portal called My Account
  • An online phone shop where you can explore and find your next favourite smartphone
  • All of our phones are unlocked and ready to go
  • And so much more!

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to be alerted when we post a new guide, bundle deal, or network announcement. 

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