11

I'll be abroad for a few years and I want to keep my mobile number till I come back. What would be the least expensive way to do this?

6

You can also port your number to Google Voice for a one time fee of US$20. This will be signficantly cheaper than most other options, and you have the ability to port your number out of Google Voice for free. (If you brought your number into Google Voice, Google waives their US$3 fee.)

The benefit to this is that you can continue to receive text messages that deliver to your Google (Gmail/Google Hangouts) account on that number while you are gone.

  • Thank you very much! Sounds like a very sweet deal. I wonder about the timing of transition, though... I want to use my phone till the last minute here, or maybe till I get a new sim over there. Hope Google is willing to handle a request made from abroad. – user6198 Mar 8 '15 at 3:55
  • It shouldn't be a problem. The only potential problem is your local carrier. Also, you could start early and just have Google Voice forward your calls to your "new" number on your existing phone. – lswank Mar 9 '15 at 4:35
  • Google's website says that Google Voice is only for the US. I assume that this means it can only be used in the US. Unless it means only US based customers can initially join with a US phone number, but can live in another country afterwards. – magnetar Apr 17 '17 at 2:30
  • I was a US-based customer. I am using it in South Korea right now. (Google, please don't cancel it.) – lswank May 13 '17 at 6:03
3

Verizon, and probably all the major carriers, offer prepaid sim only deals where $100 will keep your number for a year. At $8.50 or so a month it is probably cheaper any other plan you will find. As you only need to keep a few pennys worth of credit to keep the number, you might be able to resell, at a loss, some of the time by letting friends make calls or surf the web from your account. I am not aware of anyway to suspend your account for long periods of time.

  • Thanks. I guess I can renew the one year deal every summer... – user6198 Mar 5 '15 at 20:52
3

I've got two extra lines, for visiting friends & family. They're used every few months. I keep them on T-Mobile Pay-As-You-Go, which is currently $3/month.

2

You can port your number to Twilio, then pay $1/month to keep it active there. You can also get crafty with forwarding and voicemail and such.

  • That certainly works, although it's a much more technical option. Is there an easy, out-of-box solution for that? – lswank Mar 10 '15 at 22:08
  • 1
    it is more technical @lswank - but the original question didn't say anything needed to be done with the number. Doing simple things (like "say a message about how I'm out of the USA and how to get ahold of me") are pretty easy. In fact, there's a section for nonprogrammers on their "quickstart" page. – tedder42 Mar 10 '15 at 22:52
0

You can use an unlocked VoIP SIP service like Anveo.com, where the cost of keeping a US/Canada phone number on the Personal Unlimited rate plan is 2 USD per month, which includes an unlimited number of incoming voice calls for personal use, plus they even support SMS (most unlocked VoIP providers don't). The normal cost to port a number is 15 USD, but they often run a porting promotion in that they'll do the porting for free if you prepay Personal Unlimited for 12 months, e.g. it'll cost you a total 24 USD for first year, then 2 USD per month thereafter, to have an unlimited use of your phone number for incoming phone calls anywhere in the world for as long as you please. There are also other alternative SIP providers, but most of them don't support SMS.

You can use the service with any software or hardware that supports SIP. E.g., you can buy one of the many hardware phones like Cisco SPA303, or you can you an unlocked softphone on your mobile phone like Acrobits Softphone (or, if you're using Android, it may even have integrated SIP support out of the box directly within the Phone app).

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