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How to cancel your O2 mobile contract and find a better deal

By Emma Lunn
Thursday, April 5th 2018

So, the time has come to part company with O2. It was fun while it lasted but you’re moving on. If you want to keep your number, you’ll need to port it to your new provider. Porting is pretty straightforward these days – here’s what you need to know.

The key to porting success is to know your rights and do everything in the right order. O2 won’t want to let you go but it doesn’t have a choice. But leaving needn’t be painful – follow these instructions and you’ll soon be free.

Find a new deal before you call O2

If you’re dead-set on leaving, you’ll need to check you’re free to do so penalty-free. You can find out when your contract ends by looking your paper bill, checking your My O2 account online, or by calling O2 customer services on 0344 8090202.

Assuming you set up your mobile contract after 23 January 2014, if O2 raises its prices you can cancel your contract for free within 30 days. This ruling was put in place by industry regulator Ofcom to protect consumers against unfair mid-contract price hikes. However, it excludes annual price rises in line with the retail price index.

To see what good deals are out there, check out our SIM-only and handset comparison page. This page is updated daily and may find you an even better deal than the one you already had in mind.

If you’re not 100% certain you want to leave O2, it might be worth calling up once you've found a new deal and see if O2 can improve on it. If not, just sign up to your new provider and wait for your new handset/SIM (or both) to arrive. At that point, it's time to tell O2 you're off.

Don’t forget to check coverage

Though the situation has improved much over the last few years, if you switch, don’t forget to check your new provider’s coverage checker before signing on the dotted line. There’s no point having a shiny new handset and cheap deal if your phone doesn’t work at your home or workplace.

Get your PAC code from O2 to port your phone number across

A PAC (porting authorisation code) is a set of digits which allows you to transfer your mobile phone number from one mobile provider to another. It normally has three letters and six numbers, i.e. ABC123456.

Your new handset or SIM, or both, will probably take anything from one to five days to arrive. This window is when you should call O2 for your PAC. Contract customers can call on 202 while pay-as-you-go customers can call 4445 or 0344 8090222 from another phone if you’re out of credit. O2 will probably want to verify your identity before handing over a PAC – this is to stop fraudsters stealing your number.

Ofcom has announced that from 1 July 2019, consumers will be able to send a single text to get a PAC. Don’t be surprised if O2 uses your PAC request as a last-ditch effort to keep you as a customer. You might be quizzed about why you’re leaving and where you’re going. If you’re leaving due to poor network service, bad customer service or another reason, feel free to tell it that. Your feedback may prompt O2 to change its ways and treat other customers better.

But it’s too late for O2 and you. It’s over and you’ve signed up elsewhere. Make that clear and ignore pleas to stay – your mind is made up.

Ofcom guidelines state that a PAC must be provided to you immediately over the phone or within two hours by text. O2 (or any other network) can’t refuse to give you a PAC. Once you have a PAC, it’s valid for 30 days. If it expires, you can request a new one. Remember you don’t have to port your number when you change networks. You can simply cancel your old contract and start a new one with a brand new number.

Set up your new phone and/or SIM before applying the PAC code

PACs are valid for 30 days – plenty of time to receive your new SIM or handset and set it up. Don't worry about getting your old number across until your new phone and SIM are up and running. In some cases, this may involve setting up your online account with your new provider.

set up your new phone under your new number before doing anything else

If you’ve switched to a SIM-only deal and are keeping the same handset, you’ll need to check it’s unlocked. Most phones bought on O2 contracts will be locked to O2.

If you're on a pay monthly tariff, you can ask O2 to unlock your phone at any time, for free. You can unlock your phone by using My O2 online or via the main menu of the My O2 app. Once it's unlocked, O2 will text you to let you know. If you're on pay-as-you-go, your O2 phone can be unlocked 12 months after you bought it. It’ll cost you £15, which O2 will deduct from your airtime balance. In both cases, O2’s policies might vary depending on which phone you’ve bought.

Once your new handset is up and running, it’s time to call your new provider's customer service line with your PAC code. It will take this from you and apply it to your account. This will kick off the cancellation process with your old network and port your number across. This will normally take about 72 hours (three days). However, it could be longer if a weekend or Bank Holiday gets in the way.

In the meantime, we recommend you keep using your old SIM in your old handset. You might not get any notification that your number’s been ported, so just keep an eye on when your old SIM stops working. You shouldn’t lose service during the porting process – maybe for a few minutes but that’s all, not hours or days.

Paying off your final bill from O2

You won't be able to get your final bill from O2 until your number has been ported over. If you’re a pay monthly customer, O2 will take the final payment via direct debit as usual. If you've cancelled the direct debit, you can make a one-off payment in My O2 or using O2’s automated payment line (0844 847 1424).

Your final bill might be higher than your previous bills as it will include the final cost of line rental, any outstanding charges, plus any cancellation fees (if you’re still in contract). Make sure you pay your final bill – mobile phone providers are among the most diligent in reporting late payments to credit reference agencies.

And that's it. You’re all done. Congratulations, you’ve switched away from O2.

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