I think I have had the same phone number since my 20s, I have certainly had the same number since I started dating my partner 18 years ago, and I am not sure I know of anyone that has changed their number in years.
I strongly recommend keeping an eye out for contract deals and switching if a deal comes up that will save you money. This is especially true if you have signed an 18-month contract that includes a phone. At the end of the contract, the price will remain the same, and you will be paying significantly more than you need to.
I am personally a fan of the various one-month rolling contracts that you can get from mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) like Smarty, Voxi, iD Mobile and Lebara. I pay around £8 per month for my contract, which has 30GB of data.
What is a PAC code?
A PAC (Porting Authorisation Code) is a short alphanumeric code that you use when you want to switch mobile phone providers but keep your existing mobile phone number.
f you want to switch networks and keep your number, you'll need to request a PAC from your current provider. Once you've given the PAC to your new provider, they'll arrange for the switch to be made. This system is designed to make it easier for consumers to switch mobile providers without the hassle of changing numbers.
The PAC is usually valid for 30 days from the date of issue. If it's not used within that time, it will expire, and you'll need to request a new one. The switch itself usually happens within one working day.
Your current provider cannot refuse to issue a PAC if you are outside of your minimum contract period. If you are within your minimum contract period, you may have to pay a termination fee to get your PAC.
What happens if I request a PAC code while still on contract?
If you're still within your minimum contract period and you request a PAC (Porting Authorisation Code), you'll typically still be able to receive the code and switch to a new provider. However, there may be financial implications associated with this.
Most service providers will require you to pay an early termination charge (ETC) if you're still within your contract period. This can sometimes be quite high, as it's essentially a fee that covers the remaining cost of your contract. The ETC may also include any discounts that have been applied to your account during the contract period.
For Three, they state that the early termination fee is equivalent to the monthly charges remaining during your minimum term of the agreement.
Do I have to pay for a PAC code?
No, you don’t have to pay for a PAC code.
However, if you're still within your contract term, requesting a PAC code and switching providers may trigger an early termination fee or require you to pay off the remainder of your contract.
It is also worth noting that you need to give 30 days notice when transferring your number. Unless you time it perfectly, you will likely be charged for the remainder of your final month with your old provider even though you have transferred the number.
How to get a Three PAC code
- Three Account Online: Log in to your Three account online. Look for an option that says something like ‘Thinking of leaving Three', or ‘Request a PAC code', and follow the instructions.
- Three Mobile App: Log in to your account through the Three app on your phone. Look for similar options as mentioned above and follow the instructions.
- By Phone or Text:
- By Phone: Call 333 from a Three phone, or 0333 338 1001 from any other phone. You may need to go through several automated prompts before you can speak to a person.
- By Text: Text ‘PAC' to 65075 to receive a PAC code from Three. This is a recent development in UK law that has made it easier to switch networks. You will receive a text back with your PAC which will be valid for 30 days.
Remember, once you've received your PAC, you have 30 days to give it to your new provider. After that, it expires, and you'll have to request a new one if you still want to switch. Also, be aware that you may still need to settle any outstanding bills or charges with Three.
What do I do if a PAC code does not work?
When I switched one of my numbers to Lebara, which uses Vodafone, I was told the PAC code was not working. I double-checked it, and it still did not work. I tried to request a new PAC code but you can’t do that until the old one expires.
If the PAC code does not work, you should:
- Check the PAC code: Ensure that the PAC code you have entered is correct. Remember that it is case-sensitive and typically consists of three letters followed by six numbers.
- Check the validity: PAC codes are valid for 30 days from the date they are issued. If you try to use a PAC code that is more than 30 days old, it will not work. You'll need to request a new PAC code from your previous provider if this is the case.
- Contact your new provider: If you've checked the PAC code and its validity and are still having problems, contact the customer service team of your new provider. They should be able to assist with any issues you're experiencing.
- Contact your old provider: If your new provider can't help or if they suggest there's an issue on the old provider's end, get in touch with the customer service team of your old provider.
For me, as I was transferring a secondary number, I just waiting 30 days for the code to expire and requested a new one as I hate dealing with customer service teams.
How do I transfer my number from Three to Smarty?
Smarty is a mobile virtual network operator which uses the Three network.
With companies like Voxi, which uses Vodafone, you don’t actually request a PAC code because Voxi is owned by Vodafone, and it is, therefore, an internal transfer. In the past, you had to move to a different network and then switch to Voxi.
However, with Three and their MVNO providers, this is not the case, they are separate companies. Therefore, you follow the same process for transferring your number and request a PAC code.
What is a STAC code?
This is an alternative to a PAC code and most people won’t want to use this.
A STAC (Service Termination Authorisation Code) is a code that you can request from your mobile phone provider, if you want to switch providers and don't want to keep your current phone number.
This code effectively lets you terminate your existing service without having to port your number, which is what you would use a PAC for. Like a PAC, a STAC is also valid for 30 days from the date of issue.
You can request a STAC from your current provider by phone, text, or online. To request a STAC via text, you can simply text ‘STAC' to 75075.
I am a UK tech blogger and have been in the industry for over ten years now, running Mighty Gadget and its sister sites and contributing to other sites around the web. I am passionate about all tech, including computers/networking, mobile, wearables, and smart homes. I am also a fitness fanatic, being both a keen runner and cyclist, so I cover as much fitness tech as possible.