You have unpaid bills and an outstanding balance on your phone. Can you switch phone carriers if you owe money?
At some point, you will want to switch carriers. Whether you’re dissatisfied with their service or just want a better deal.
Let’s find out!
Switching carriers is generally possible even if you have outstanding debts or device installment plans with your current carrier. However, it is important to resolve any financial obligations with them to ensure a smooth transition to a new carrier.
In this article, we’ll take you through changing mobile carriers. But before we get to the steps, there are a few things you need to consider.
Can You Switch Phone Carriers If I Owe Money: Points to Consider
You can essentially get out of your contract, but it might cost you. How much depends on a number of things. First, you need to consider timing.
The carrier you are leaving won’t refund your unused days and won’t prorate the final bill.
It’s best you make the switch a few days before your current billing cycle ends.
You also need to consider the following:
- Any outstanding balance with your service
- Unpaid balance with your phone
- Existing service contract with your carrier
- Your phone’s unlock status
- Incentives from rival phone carriers
Switching to another service provider does not usually take long. However, give yourself a few days in case some issues come up.
Can You Switch Phone Carriers If You Owe Money: Everything Answered
Before switching to another cellular provider, you must terminate your contract with your previous carrier.
At the time of the termination, fees and terms and conditions may be relevant to the crossover.
If you have an outstanding balance with your current carrier, you’ll need to settle it. Typically, this means paying the final bill.
If you’re paying off a device in addition to your recurrent charges, you’ll need to pay the amount you owe for that, too.
Here are other things you need to know about switching phone carriers.
What to Watch Out For When Switching Carriers
Now, we have established you could switch carriers even if you owe money. However, you have to watch out for a few things. One is device compatibility.
You need to ensure your phone is compatible with the network you are about to switch to.
Most new smartphones can be used across all networks, but older phones will only work with one.
Other things you need to be aware of include:
- Early Termination fees
- Unpaid bills you have not paid
- The outstanding balance on your phone
Note: You need to settle all these before they give you the code to port your number and unlock your phone.
Do You Need to Settle Any Outstanding Balance
The process of switching carriers is usually quick and straightforward. Port your number, then make sure that your phone is compatible, and that’s it.
You should be using your new carrier in less than 24 hours if the circumstances allow it.
However, it can all slow down if your carrier finds that you still have an outstanding balance with them.
Whether it’s on your service account or the phone you got, you’ll need to settle it before they allow you to move your number and device.
Here’s what you need to look at when it comes to unpaid bills and moving networks:
- Determine any unpaid bills that you have with your carrier.
- Know your phone’s status and see if you’re still paying via an installment plan.
- Find out of you have an existing contract and due early termination fees.
- Negotiate payment plans that they can offer you so you can switch.
Note: If you're in the process of knowing how much you owe, request a detailed breakdown, so you know exactly what you're paying.
Here’s What You Need to Do to Switch Carriers
Now that you know how much you need to pay your current carrier to switch, it’s time to start settling your balances.
The good news is that once everything is paid up, they’ll happily let you go and switch to the carrier of your choice.
As you can see, settling any outstanding balance is incredibly important here.
After getting it sorted out, you are now able to transfer your account to a different carrier and use it in no time.
Here’s how to settle your balance with your carrier:
- Contact your carrier’s customer service.
- Ask for a detailed summary of your outstanding balance.
- Settle your balance using the payment method of your choice.
- Confirm that your balance is cleared and everything is paid off.
- You can now start moving your account to a different carrier.
Tip: Ensure you keep copies of all communications and receipts to avoid confusion.
If My Phone is Paid Off, Can I Switch Carriers
They will allow you to switch carriers after settling your balance and paying off your bills, devices, and fees.
The biggest among here is the one for your device, especially if you recently got it.
Once you have paid it off, it won’t be tied to any financing or installment plans, allowing you to bring it to your new network.
You want to confirm with your current carrier that your device is unlocked and compatible with your new carrier’s network.
Here’s what you need to know after paying off your phone:
- You’re free to switch carriers if your phone is paid off.
- Make sure to get it unlocked with your carrier.
- Check that it’s compatible with your new carrier.
Note: You may have other financial obligations that you need to meet, so you want to get that sorted out too.
How to Switch Carriers After Settling Your Balance
You can successfully switch carriers after checking these requirements and figuring out that you have met them all.
Now, you won’t be able to switch right away as there are a few things you need to do. There are two components that you need to look into when you’re switching carriers.
The first is your number since you can bring that with you no matter what carrier you’re moving to.
The next one is your device since you can get great deals if you bring your phone.
Here are the steps on how to successfully switch carriers after paying off your bills:
- Know the best carrier based on their coverage, pricing, and support.
- Check your phone’s compatibility using tools on their website.
- Contact your carrier and inform them you want to move.
- Start the process of porting your number.
- Activate your service with your new carrier.
Top Tips on Switching Carriers If You Owe Them Money
You do not always need to pay off your existing carrier before you’re allowed to switch.
There are also exceptions that you can explore and see if you qualify. Knowing these will make the process much easier as you won’t need to pay off your current carrier.
Here are some tips on switching carriers while owing them money:
- Check if they offer payment plans so you can switch now and pay it off later.
- Other carriers offer contract buyouts, so they pay for your unpaid bills.
- Dispute your carrier if you see an error in the bill.
- Expired contracts give you greater flexibility in negotiating a switch.
Note: It doesn't necessarily mean that your carrier will honor any of these, but it's worth checking out.
Knowing these things will allow you to make the right decision if you want to switch carriers, even if you owe them money.
It’s important to know that your credit score can be affected if you leave your account unpaid.
Can you switch phone carriers if you owe money? Now that you know all the ins and outs of moving carriers, even if you owe them money, you can find the best way to deal with it.
You pay them your balance or get another carrier to buy you out.
If you want to know more about what different carriers can offer, it’s best to contact them directly so you’ll have an idea of your options.
Finn Wheatley holds a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from UCL, London. He helped small data science consultancy firms, helping large corporations to grow their data capabilities, deploy advanced machine learning-based analytics and troubleshoot tech-related issues.