Switch mobile phone network with free Pay as you Go SIM cards
August 8th, 2009
If you haven’t changed network or PAYG tariff recently, you could be paying way too much for your calls and texts. Over the last year or so, the major mobile networks have launched new tariffs offering all kinds of freebies: free calls, free texts and even free internet access. It’s easier than you think to switch network.
photo: Daniele Pesaresi
Can I take my existing phone with me?
Yes, unless your phone has been locked to a specific network. There are several tell-tale signs of a locked phone: The mobile phone box packaging has your operators logo on it; your phone itself is branded with the operator logo or perhaps the operators logo appears upon startup. The only way to know for sure is to insert a SIM card from a different network and see whether it works.
If your phone is locked then unfortunately you won’t just be able to insert a different SIM card. You’ll need to unlock it or buy a new handset.
Note: If you want to join the Three network, you’ll need a 3G phone. Older 2G phones will not work on Three – you’ll need a new handset.
See my guide on how to tell if your phone is locked and how to purchase unlocked mobile phones.
Can I keep my existing phone number?
Yes. Your current network must legally give you a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC) . This code will authorise the transfer of your phone number to your new network. You should be supplied with a PAC code within 2 days of requesting it and the code will be valid for 30 days. Call the customer services department of your current network:
- 3 (Three): 0870 7330 333 (333 from your mobile)
- O2: 0870 2410 202 (202 from your mobile)
- Orange: 07973 100 450 (450 from your mobile)
- T-Mobile: 0870 6060 139 (150 from your mobile)
- Vodafone: 0870 0700 191 (191 from your mobile)
Some networks (Three and Orange) will give you £10 credit as an incentive to take your number with you.
See Wikipedia for more info.
What is a SIM card?
A SIM card is a small card the size of your finger which slots into your phone. It stores information such as:
- how to connect to your network
- your current phone number
- your contacts
You can change phones by removing the SIM card from one phone and insert into a different phone.
Similarly, you can switch network by inserting a new SIM card into your current phone.
How much does a SIM card cost?
The networks used to charge up to a tenner for SIM cards but such is the competition for new customers, you can get them for free now. Find the network you want to join, enter your address and you should recieve your new SIM card in the post.
See our full guide to free Pay As You Go SIM cards.
What PAYG deals are available?
- 600 free texts
- 150MB internet
- Free 3-to-3 calls
- Free voicemail
- Free Windows Live Messenger
- Free unlimited Skype calls (available without a top up); doesn’t count towards your data allowance
You can get paid to order a free SIM card too using a site like TopCashback*. As of today, the cashback available is:
- O2: 15p cashback per SIM
- Orange: 60p cashback
- T-Mobile: 50p-£1 cashback
Do check on the site first though; cashback offers change all the time.
* I earn a referral on registrations using this link. Non-affiliate version: http://www.topcashback.co.uk.
I'm a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005 with the aim of demystifying mobile technology for the rest of us.
Before writing about mobile technology, my background was in space & atmospheric physics. I have also worked in software development. Nowadays, I help companies to explain mobile technology to their customers. Please check out my portfolio or get in touch for more information. I'm also on Google+.