Changing your mobile provider has just got a whole lot easier. ‘Text to switch’ means you can get your so-called 'PAC' code easily, and shop around for the best deals.
If you've thought about changing your mobile provider and want to keep your number, communications regulator Ofcom has come to the rescue.
In the past, people have been put off by the hassle of calling up to cancel their contract and being passed to advisers who then try to persuade them to stay, when all the customers want is to get their PAC code. This can stop people saving money by finding a better deal..
The PAC code is the Porting Authorisation Code that the new mobile provider needs to switch customers over and allow them to keep their existing mobile number.
But thanks to new Ofcom rules getting the PAC code has become much simpler.
How do I get my PAC code and switch providers?
"Text to switch" is a simple process which makes swapping mobile phone providers faster. You can now change providers in four simple steps:
1. Text PAC to 65075.
2. You'll receive your PAC code to switch, along with any other important information.
3. Contact your new mobile phone provider and give them your PAC
4. Your service will be switched within one working day.
This cuts out the annoying rigmarole of being passed between advisers and customer service teams, who will try to persuade you to stay with your current provider. Ultimately switching can give you the chance to save money on your calls and data by choosing a plan that suits you.
The faster turnaround with the PAC code means swapping is easier. So if you see a deal that suits you, you should be able to snap it up pronto.
I don't want to keep my mobile number, can I still swap?
Yes - while most people do want to keep their current mobile number, Ofcom figures show around one in six people don't want to keep theirs.
If you're not worried about hanging on to your number, just text STAC to 75075 (STAC is a Service Termination Authorisation Code), then everything else works exactly the same way as the PAC code.
Am I still in a contract?
Once again, just send a text and you can find out whether your contract has already ended without having to speak to your provider.
This time text INFO to 85075 - this will tell you whether you're still tied into a contract and whether charges will apply if you end your contract early.
Texting INFO doesn't trigger a switching code, but just gives you the information you need. If your contract has ended then you're free to choose a new deal. Or if you know early termination charges will apply, you can search for a deal that will still save you money, even though you pay a cancellation fee.
No more notice periods
Ofcom research found that nearly a third of customers were finding it hard to cancel their service when they wanted to switch. People were also worried about switching but paying both the old and new mobile companies at the same time.
Thanks to the new Ofcom rules, from 1 July 2019 mobile providers were banned from charging for notice periods. Ofcom estimates that the new rules should save UK mobile customers around £10 million a year.
How to find the best deals for your mobile phone contract
Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) tariffs remain popular among mobile phone users as a means of avoiding restrictive contract deals.
There are, however, drawbacks and benefits to both PAYG and contract deals. The attraction of PAYG is low monthly costs. But if you want the latest handset, it’s going to cost you.
Contract phones largely remain the most competitive for regular users keen to keep up with the latest handsets, although many people resent having to sign up for long contracts that can stretch up to 24 months for the best deals.
While you have the handset you want in the beginning, later on in the contract this can mean owning an outdated version, or simply a rather worn and weathered device, which can slow down and become increasingly obsolete as time goes on. It also means you can't switch if a better deal comes along.
As a PAYG customer, you can easily track how much you’re spending. And if you’re on a tight budget you can opt for a cheaper handset – and simply hold back on texts and calls for as long as you need to.
Finding the best deal can be a minefield because everyone uses their phone differently and handset choice is a personal decision. Not to mention the hundreds of tariffs on the market.
If you’re on a contract and think you are paying over the odds, there are a number of comparison websites you can use. Try Ofcom approved website www.billmonitor.com
The free Bill Check-Up service will analyse if you are over- or underusing your contract, when your contract ends, and which new tariff is right for you.
Equally, if you are spending more than you’d wish to on PAYG, see if a contract phone would be cheaper overall.
And it’s always wise to trawl comparison sites for the best tariff and see if your current provider will match the price, especially if a rival firm is coming in with a cheaper option.
Here are five tips to help you choose the best mobile phone deal for your needs:
1. Choose a mobile phone handset that's right for you
The main thing to decide when taking out a mobile phone contract is which handset to choose. For those who want the latest Samsung phone or iPhone, be prepared to pay a monthly tariff with unlimited calls and texts.
2. Do some online research about mobile phone contracts
As mentioned above, visit the Ofcom-approved website billmonitor.com. The free Bill Check-up service will analyse your phone usage when your contract ends - and which new tariff would be right for you.
3. Haggle for a cheaper mobile phone deal
If you are approaching the end of your contract and would prefer to stay with your existing provider, contact them to see if they are prepared to offer you a better deal.
Even better, come armed with examples of rock bottom-priced deals from a rival network and see if your existing one will match it.
4. Choose SIM-only mobile phones
Many customers routinely continue paying the same monthly tariff even after their contract has ended and they have paid off their phone. And that is a good time to drop down to a cheaper SIM-only deal, if you are happy to stick with your existing handset.
Just remember: if it breaks, you are responsible for replacing it. And if you take up another contract you will also have to honour the SIM-only deal.
5. Get cashback on a new mobile phone deal
If you choose a new contract, buy through cashback websites such as Quidco.com or Topcashback.co.uk. Money back from these sites can turn out to be a nice little earner.
And don’t forget: Sell your old phone if you are changing your handset. We’re spoiled for choice these days with a whole host of services offered from website such as musicmagpie.co.uk, sellmymobile.com, envirofone.com and mazumamobile.com
The newer the phone, the more money you get for it – so don’t leave it gathering dust in a drawer.