Moving comes with a long to-do list, and switching your cell phone plan probably isn’t your top priority. Why bother? Because when you move to a new city, you might be able to save some money with a new mobile plan. Your new location may offer better plan options; start by considering whether you want to keep your existing service and reasons why you may need to switch your number.
The Easiest Option
If you’re happy with your cell phone plan and your service is still reliable in your new location, simply update your address with your carrier when you move.
If you’re moving to a new state, you might see your cell phone bill go up (or down) depending on how wireless services are taxed in your new location. Illinois, Alaska, Washington, and Nebraska charge the highest wireless taxes; Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada charge the lowest.
This map from the Tax Foundation shows cell phone taxes in each state:
Changing it Up With a New Plan
A new cell phone plan has its benefits — not only can you shop around for better prices, you may find coverage from lower-cost providers is better in your new location. If you’re moving from a rural area with limited options to a more populated area, you could save a lot of money by switching to a new carrier.
When deciding on a new plan, the most important consideration is coverage, but if you are looking to save money, consider an MVNO (a company that leases service from the major carriers) — these are generally less expensive for similar coverage. If you or your family are heavy data users, look for a plan that lets you choose between unlimited or by-the-gig data for each line, rather than making you share. Also, check to see if your carrier charges any line access fees — some companies are moving away from these fees, which can save quite a bit if you have a family plan.
What if I Want to Keep My Old Number?
According to the Pew Research Center, an estimated 10% of U.S. adults have a cell phone number that doesn’t match the state where they live. It’s not surprising that most people prefer to keep their current cell phone number even if they are moving to a new area code, but that might be tricky if you want to switch carriers.
Cellular providers are required by law to let you “port” your old number to a new provider, but one of the exceptions to this rule is if you are moving to a new rate area. Providers cannot port phone numbers across rate center boundaries, which is the geographical area used to determine the boundaries for local calling, billing, and assigning phone numbers. If you move to a new rate area and still want to keep your current phone number, you’ll have to stick with your old carrier.
Moving is a great time to reevaluate your monthly bills, and shopping around for a new mobile plan can help you save a lot of money. Factors like where you’re moving to, what’s included in your current plan versus a new plan, and whether or not you want to keep your number are all important, so consider your options carefully before deciding which one works best for you.
Jennifer Pattison Tuohy is a freelance writer and contributor for Xfinity Mobile. She writes about mobile phone technology, consumer tech, small businesses, and green living for a variety of newspapers, magazines, and online publications.