How to Transfer Cell Phone Service to Another Cell Phone

by Jay Darrington

You might have several different reasons for wanting to leave your cell phone service and open an account with another one. Fortunately, if you decide to leave the service, you may be able to take the phone you used with you on the new service. You will need to do some configuration to get the phone ready for service on the other network, but it will save you the cost of purchasing the new phone.

Determine the services that will be compatible with your phone. There are two types of services available in the United States: Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM). CDMA phones have the information given via the network, while GSM phones require Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards to recognize a network. Contact the new network you will be transferring your phone to in order to see whether it will work.

Cancel your current cell phone service. Even if you have to pay a termination fee, odds are it will be much cheaper to cancel than to let the service run until the contract can be terminated without a fee An exception would be if the contract is within a few months of having the fee waived.

Unlock your phone using a phone-unlocking service (see Resources below for an example). You will need your phone number, International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number of the phone (located in the battery pack of the phone) and the name of the previous provider.

Take the phone to a branch of the cell phone network you want to sign up with and have an employee set up the phone.

Tip

  • Some phone networks may be willing to unlock your phone for you.

Warnings

  • You cannot get a GSM phone to work on a CDMA network or vice versa.
  • Because your phone was not designed for the new network, some features may not be available.

Items you will need

About the Author

Jay Darrington has been a professional writer since 2006, specializing in technology. He has published on several online blogs, including iTech24, iPhoneland and Tech101. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication technology from California State University.

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