Cheapest Way to Keep a Phone Number (Easiest Way)

by Erin Schollaert


Our phone numbers can become a part of our identity over time. They’re how people know to contact us and a part of how we can get looked up in multiple systems.

But what if you don’t want to lose your number? The cheapest way to keep a phone number is to keep it active in one form or another.

This is everything you need to know about what cheap way to keep a phone number could work for you.

Why keep your number the same?

If this is one of your first phone numbers, you might be unsure if it’s a smart decision to keep it or not. There are a bunch of variables at play here, and it’s important to consider each.

These same factors can be considered whether you’re finding the inexpensive way to keep a landline number or mobile number.

Do you get a bunch of spam or scam calls that know you by name? If so, someone has sold your information, or it’s publicly online. These calls won’t stop as long as you have this number.

Have you had this number for over ten years, and everyone knows you by it? If so, keeping the number could then save you the trouble of someone being unsure how to find you.

If you want to keep phone number for least money spent: they’ll still be able to find you.


Trend on the Rise

Over 45% of people change their phone numbers every two years or more often. This means many phone numbers get cycled through, and new numbers are usually recycled, which leads the new phone owner to get stuck with the previous owner’s scam and spam calls.

How long does a phone number stay inactive?

The average phone number stays active anywhere from 30 to 90 days of inactive service.

After this, providers put the numbers back into their pool of numbers, which could be picked up by someone else.

The good thing is that every provider has a set of numbers that the NTIA assigns them, which individuals can then port if they need to keep their numbers but change services.

This means fewer users could take your number, although it’s also a smaller lot of numbers to pick from.

An average of over 100,000 cell phone numbers are assigned daily, which unfortunately leaves you open to having your number taken if you don’t have it activated.

If you don’t have money to keep you phone line active, try some budgeting tips such as saving money with meal kits to help you save enough cash to keep you number active.

Tactic for Success

If your phone service lapsed because you could not afford it, and you don’t want to lose your phone number, contact your service provider and ask if there’s anything they can do to help you. The sooner you ask, the better since they’re less likely to try to help if it’s been over a month.

How do I keep my old number on a new phone?

To keep your old phone number with your new service, you must follow a set number of tasks and work with both companies.

Although this can be stressful, especially if you’re leaving the old company on a sour note or even if you’re just switching companies to bundle to get cheaper wifi at home, it’s an effortless transfer.

First, don’t terminate your service – contact the new company and let them know you’d like to start service with them and that you have a number to port over.

They’ll ask what the phone number is and what company you’re moving over from.

From there, the new company will send you a sim card and may ask for a PAC number for the company you’re with right now.

A PAC number is a nine-digit code that allows you to port your number, which you can get by texting the word PAC to 65075.

From here, your number should be ported over and working within one business day! You might have a small service disruption as it switches, but generally, the transition is smooth and easy. 

Before You Switch Over Your Number:

  • Check if Your Phone Is UnlockedSome carriers lock phones to their services for several years. Make sure your phone isn’t locked to your carrier. 
  • Contact Your New and Old Services – Let both services know what you want to be done; contact your new service first to ensure they can port over your number. 
  • Make Sure the Number is Active – If your number isn’t active, they might not be able to port your number through.
  • Consider Changing Numbers – Consider the pros and cons of changing numbers to make sure you want to keep your number.

Trend on the Rise

Around 10% of Americans have a phone number that doesn’t match the state they live in. Unlike landline house phones, cell phones don’t have to check the area code they’re in to function, so many don’t see the point in swapping their numbers.

Is there any way to get my old number back?

If you let your service lapse, or you want a phone number you had over three months ago, you could be in hot water: but there’s still a chance it could work.

Generally, to be able to get your old phone number back, you have to be with the same company, and you have to have service with them currently.

If you let them know the situation, they can check to see if someone is currently using that number.

If not, they might be able to swap your number as soon as within the same day! If someone is using your number, you’re out of luck.

Don’t contact them and ask to buy the number, as this could be seen as harassment.

Tactic for Success

If you need your old number for a confirmation code that might get texted to it: consider texting that number and asking for it. Someone with your old number might be nice enough to go along with it and give you the code.

Mistakes to Avoid

There are some mistakes anyone could make! Although this process is mostly handled by phone companies when it’s started and is free to transfer over, if you make a mistake, it could lead to losing your number forever.


Common Number Porting Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Getting New Service Without AskingWhen you get a new service, let them know that you have an old number you want to port over before you do anything else.
  • Canceling Your Old Service Before Porting – Don’t cancel your old service until the number is safely ported over.
  • Allowing Your Service to Lapse – If you let your service lapse while trying to port it over, you could lose this number.
  • Noticing a Mistake and Avoiding Saying Anything – If you see that the number isn’t working, or when you call someone else, it shows up as a different number- let both companies know immediately.
  • Porting a Number You Get Spammed On – if you already get spam calls often on your old number: don’t port it over; you’ll still get spam.

It’s a good rule of thumb to ask your new carrier any questions if you notice issues or are unsure about this process.

Although it’s a little time-consuming to deal with this, if you’re porting your number over, it’s generally for a good reason: stand up for yourself and let them know if something is wrong.

Can I keep a phone number without using it on a service?

If you had a phone number for your business or a house number that everyone knew you by, but you don’t want it as your cell phone number: you may think you’re stuck paying for it forever to keep it.

Fortunately, that’s not necessary.

If you don’t want to use that number as your main point of contact or on your phone, but you still want to be able to receive calls and voicemails from people who don’t have your new number, Google voice can help you.

By porting the number to Google Voice, you’ll have to pay an average of $10 per number per month, and you’ll have access to whatever voicemails or calls people leave this number.

One problem you might run into is if Google ever stops its Google Voice program, you’ll have to either port that number out or discontinue it. 

Right now, this service doesn’t look like it’s ending any time soon, but that’s something to keep in mind since many tech companies can be inconsistent with what projects they continue or discontinue. 

Wrapping Up

Although phone numbers can quickly get swapped or replaced: if most people know to contact you via a specific number, it’s difficult to lose that number.

Consider transferring your number when you change services! 

+ posts

Erin is a business teacher and mother of three. When she’s not in the classroom or fulfilling her obligations as an A+ hockey and lacrosse mom, she’s working on her latest article.

About the Author

Photo of author
Erin is a business teacher and mother of three. When she’s not in the classroom or fulfilling her obligations as an A+ hockey and lacrosse mom, she’s working on her latest article.