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How to switch phone carriers without paying

By Josh Levesque

Originally published February 15, 2024


Last Updated February 15, 2024

Graphic of a sign saying "how to switch phone carriers without paying"

How long have you been with your current wireless carrier? Next question: how long have you wanted to switch to a different one? We all know transitioning from one major utility to another can be costly. Whether you’re still paying rent in your current apartment while paying the first month & security deposit in your next one or trading in your car for a new one with a new payment & higher insurance, that overlap can cause you to put things off for longer than you’d like. The same goes for your wireless service. Contracts, early termination fees and device requirements might keep you tethered to a carrier you’ve been wanting to leave for a while, but we can tell you how to switch phone carriers without paying more than the minimum. So what’s the trick to switching without breaking the bank? Let’s get into it. 

In this article

When is the right time to switch phone carriers to avoid paying extra?

Shakespeare was on to something when he said “timing is everything,” and he didn’t even have a cell phone (that we know of). Even if you’ve determined that you should switch phone carriers, you probably don’t want to pay two phone bills at the same time. However, you also don’t want to go without service between plans. Here are some things to consider:

  • Double & triple-check your contract. We know it might be tedious and filled with fine print, but you need to know what terms you’re operating under with your current wireless carrier. 
  • If you leave now, will you be charged an ETF (early termination fee)? If so, it may be worth it to wait until your contract is up, depending on how much time you have left.
  • Are you in the middle of your billing cycle? We recommend waiting to switch until about 4-7 days before your current plan renews. There may be a slight overlap, but the savings in the long run can be worth it.
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Other ways to switch phone carriers without overpaying 

Your billing cycle is one thing to consider as far as choosing the ideal time to switch phone carriers, but seasonal offers & promotions might be even more impactful and could even override any contracts or ETFs.

Look for promotions that help pay off balances

Whether you’ll be incurring an ETF or still owe money on your current phone, some carriers will reimburse you the amount owed to your current carrier as an incentive to switch. You may have to pay up front, but you’ll get that money back shortly after activating your new plan.   

Trade in your current phone

Do you have an old phone laying around? Some wireless carriers have trade-in programs that allow you to trade in an old phone in exchange for credit to put toward an ETF.

Bring your own phone to your new carrier

Some wireless carriers bundle their best deals with new phones you have to purchase, but many carriers allow you to bring your own phone and just pay for the service, which can save you a lot up front. You just have to make sure your phone is fully paid for and unlocked.   

You’re ready to switch…to Mint Mobile?

Now you know when to switch, but which carrier will you switch to? We’ll throw our hat in the ring, if you aren’t already aware of all the reasons why Mint Mobile makes the most sense. We don’t do contracts, so if you do find yourself wanting to switch again, you don’t have to count the days. We also give our best rates to everyone, even if you bring your own phone (in fact, we encourage it). So when you’re ready to give us a shot, we’ve got a whole other blog that can help you switch things up. Plus, if you’re understandably ready to switch from AT&T or Verizon (we’re just speculating), we’ve got in-depth guides for those specific scenarios too. 

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