How to Change a Cell Phone Plan

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Some people prefer to stay with the same cell phone provider for long periods of time, but others like to hop around to find the best deals. If you are interested in changing your cell phone plan around the time that your cell phone contract is expiring, or if you have a prepaid plan, the process will probably be quick and easy. If you don't take a few precautions before starting the move, you could experience a few headaches.

  • Browse the website of cell phone service providers to review their plans, phones and additional services.

  • Check your credit to see if it is good enough to be approved for a new cell phone contract without the need for an upfront deposit. Cell phone providers generally like to see an established credit history with a minimum score of between 600 to 700, though the standard varies by provider.

  • Call your old cell phone company to check on your account and settle up any outstanding bills. Confirm your contract end date if you committed to an agreement with the company. You will have to pay an early termination fee if you try to cancel your cell phone agreement even a day early.

  • Call the new cell phone provider (or walk in to a store) to sign up for the new plan a couple of days before your contract end date with your previous company. You will need to give your personal information (including Social Security number, name and address) to apply for the service. You will also be asked to sign a new contract if you want a regular plan, or you can just order a phone from the company and start prepaid service.

  • Choose the phone that you want to use with your new service.

  • Ask for your number to be ported over from your old provider to the new service. If you don't mind a new cell phone number, you can skip this step.

  • Wait for your new phone to arrive in the mail. If you ordered inside a store, it may have been given to you on the spot. Call the cell phone company to activate your new phone. You will now have two phones active at the same time (your old and new phones).

  • Call your old cell phone provider to cancel service as of the date that your contract has ended and your new service is active.

Tips & Warnings

  • The representative at your old company may offer you a better deal if you stay. You usually have three to 14 days to cancel a new contract, so if the deal is irresistible you may be able to cancel your new arrangement with the company and keep your old phone at the better rate. You have to call the new provider and confirm that you can cancel without penalty before committing to a new contract with your old provider. Clean all contact information from your old phone before attempting to sell it. Consider donating the phone to charity. Staples office stores allows you to recycle your cell phone in support of the Sierra Club environmental charity.

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