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I want to save my U.S. phone number, so I can use it again next year. And by 'save' I mean to keep the number but no service. I have a Verizon prepaid plan and would need just to keep my number. This way I can save a lot of money.

Because of COVID-19 I am outside the United States, but would need the same number next year hopefully after the pandemic.

According to Verizon customer service, prepaid plans can't be suspended.

Can I transfer the number to a cheaper service provider which has pay as you go plans in the U.S.?

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    I take it that keeping it topped up isn't going to work for you? – Peter M Oct 1 at 19:50
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    Why not just port it to a pre-paid plan or to VOIP? I'm not clear how this is a travel question, as it applies to anyone who wants to keep an unused phone number. – choster Oct 1 at 20:39
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    @stephanmg Pre-paids generally expire with time, but that expiration can be reset by paying a minimal amount of money into the account. IE topping up teh account every now and again. – Peter M Oct 2 at 13:43
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    @stephanmg When I had a T-mobile prepaid they had an option of something like $100 top up that reset the timeout for 12 months. Does Verizon have anything similar? You may have been asking the wrong question if you were asking "what is the minimal $$ for a monthly top up?" – Peter M Oct 2 at 19:58
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    I’m voting to close this question because there is negligible travel contentm here. – user105640 Oct 3 at 22:46
29

Create a Google Voice account and get a number from them. Then use the option within Google Voice to port existing number to your Google Voice account. I believe there is a small (maybe $10-$20) charge, but not 100% sure of this. Note that porting your old number into Google Voice will override any number that Google Voice had issued you.

Having a number on Google Voice doesn't cost, but of course making calls using it can attract a charge.

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  • That's ingenious. Thanks! It appears the page "Google Voice Porting Status" is gone. They (Google) said one should check there if the number can be ported or not. Where do I find the page? – stephanmg Oct 2 at 8:29
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    Have you read support.google.com/voice/answer/1065667 – CGCampbell Oct 2 at 13:15
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    Not every number can be ported to Google Voice. That's because the porting process isn't free (internally to the various providers) and prices vary, and obviously Google isn't willing to pay for some of the more costly ports. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Oct 2 at 15:54
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    @stephanmg if you're already outside the US, Google may be hiding the option from you. Try using a US-based VPN and see if the option re-appears when you connect via a US IP address. – bjmc Oct 2 at 16:29
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    @stephanmg Do you have a US VPN? The porting status page should work through a VPN. Also it seems to work from a laptop but not from a phone (I can get that Port Check page to open in a browser on my laptop, but from my phone it just takes me to some other page. – Midavalo Oct 2 at 18:07
13

Port the number to a "Virtual Number" service.

There are services such as Callhippo or Google Voice that will give you a "virtual phone number". You either access it via VoIP, or have it forward calls to another phone number.

They typically have a much more modest cost in the neighborhood of $10/month.

This has a neat feature: it means you can keep receiving calls even though you are out-of-country.

Typically you either use VoIP (e.g. through their app), or you have it forward to the physical phone that you do have in your locality. The latter works best in places where calls from the virtual number service to your phone are free.

Verizon is not going to hold your number "for free". Holding your number is a service, for which they charge money. Prepaid plans can be as little as $20/month, there's no need for a heavy data plan with all the bells and whistles.

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    You say "Holding your number is a service" as if to imply that it costs Verizon time and money to do it. But does it? – Kyralessa Oct 2 at 11:23
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    @Kyralessa obtaining new phone numbers to issue to customers isn't free. So by "holding" the number Verizon or whoever your phone provider is cannot reassign it to a new customer, which means they need to buy more phone numbers to give out. Only reason they allow you to move it to another service or provider is because the law says they have to allow it – psubsee2003 Oct 2 at 11:49
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    @Kyralessa And they need to be ready to receive calls to the number, which could happen in any quantity at any time. Receiving no calls won't cost $20/mo, but then they only charge $20/mo for someone who receives thousands of calls and text messages a day. – Andrew Leach Oct 2 at 11:50
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    Whether or not you receive calls probably doesn't even change Verizon's expenses that much, most of it probably goes into overhead like paying staff and repairing phone lines that are damaged by normal wear and tear. – IllusiveBrian Oct 2 at 15:33
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    One of the huge advantages of using a virtual number like Google Voice is that you will also avoid the hassle of moving the number again to a new provider when you want to use it next year. – spuck Oct 2 at 20:12
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I mean to keep the number but no service.

Aside from the virtual number services that Harper - Reinstate Monica and Midavalo mentioned in their answers, some phone plans allow pausing, such as Google Fi (which allows suspensions up to 3 months). Note that in the case of Google Fi, it can also be used outside the US.

I use both Google Fi and Google Voice:

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    The pausing was already discarded as an option: "Accordig [sic] to customer service prepaid plans can't be suspended" and "Verizon said my plan cannot be paused". – Mast Oct 2 at 7:56
  • Yes, prepaid plans cannot be suspended according to Verizon CS. I could convert the prepaid plan in a fully flegded paid plan, then I could suspend it. If you have a prepaid plan, then you need to "top it up" every 30 days, so in essence you do not gain anything. – stephanmg Oct 2 at 8:41
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    @Mast The question doesn't say the OP only wants prepaid or Verizon plans. – Franck Dernoncourt Oct 2 at 14:35
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You could port your number to Ting, an MVNO. It’s US$6 / month (plus some taxes) if you don’t use it.

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    Looks like there's a similar service called PayGo from Ultra Mobile for $3/mo. – Justin Oct 2 at 19:20
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    @Justin Good find. Reading carefully, however, you'll see that PayGo allows only US$3/mo for 100 minutes, 100 texts, and 100 MB of data. If the customer uses more, the costs climbs very rapidly. So PayGo would be cheaper for the OP's no-use times, but I think disqualifyingly expensive to leave in place for the OP's future use upon return to the US. – DavidSupportsMonica Oct 2 at 20:05
3

Many of the existing answers are giving good advice about where to park your number but are glossing over the first of the two steps involved:

  1. Port your number away from Verizon. As your current carrier owns your number, you need to contact them to allow the transfer away from them. Your best best is to contact their customer service department. More information may be found here: Verizon Port Out FAQ. You need to get from them an identification number proving that you are authorized to move the number, which you will provide in step 2.

  2. Port your number to somewhere else. Once you have the PIN from your current provider, you can choose any number of new places to move it to, as detailed by the other answers. Costs for hosting the number will vary, as will the exact method on how you provide the PIN to your new provider.

Without doing step 1, you will not succeed in step 2.

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    Yep, super important first step. I ported my number from Verizon to AT&T, then suspended my account for the two year I was away and using local sim cards. Of you don't port it, Verizon will happily reuse it for a different customer. – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Oct 3 at 11:33
  • @Roddy: whats the cost at AT&T? – stephanmg Oct 3 at 17:27
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    When it was suspended? I can't recall specifically but around $10/m or so. This was about 4 years ago. – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Oct 3 at 19:55

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