Tired of paying over $500 a year for a landline you never use? Follow these easy steps to ditch the landline and keep your phone number.
After paying for a landline for over 10 years past when we all had cell phones, we decided to ditch the landline (which we call the “spam line”) and save over $40 per month.
We have that old landline number connected to so many accounts, that we wanted (felt we needed) to keep the phone number. So, after researching our options, we decided to switch to Google Voice, and found a way to keep our number. (There are lots of VOIP – Voice over IP – options, besides Google Voice, but it’s free.)
Switching to Google Voice – great features, less hassle
Google Voice has some awesome features – and it’s free! (after the one-time $20 porting charge. It has lots of filtering/forwarding options (like forwarding to my cell phone); and it will actually transcribe voicemails and email those transcriptions to us. I love the fact that, when someone calls, Google Voice asks them to state their name, before even ringing my phone. The vast majority of sales/robo calls are stopped right there. And, when the caller does state their name, GV will ring my phone, play the caller’s response, and give me the option to take the call or send it to voicemail. If it goes to voicemail, GV will transcribe it and send me an email. (I can also visit my GV account, to check messages if I’d like.)
With Google Voice, you can make, and receive phone calls using your computer, or other connected devices. You can even hook up an adapter to your Wifi network, to enable you to use your old landline’s phone handset, if you’d prefer. Since we use our cell phones for everything, we didn’t bother (although we kept the handsets). If I do want to use the Google voice service to place a call, and don’t want to use my computer’s built-in microphone and speakers, I can just use my headset.
The basic steps are outlined in this helpful guide: https://cordcuttingreport.com/port-phone-number-google-voice/. I didn’t follow all the steps exactly, having referred to another guide on Reddit, and needing to change a couple of things. Either method should work fine.
First of all, you can’t port a landline number to Google Voice directly. So, you’ll need to go through the additional step of buying a cheap cell phone and a cheap, prepaid plan or month-to-month plan, and porting your phone number to that cell phone first. Of course, if you have an old unlocked phone, you can use that instead, and just pick up a SIM card. This may sound like a real pain, but it’s not. It’s very cheap, easy, and saves you money (and spam calls). It’s well worth it.
Finding a cheap cell phone and plan:
A few folks on Reddit recommended using TracFone as the intermediary, and I have to say, that worked out really well. I was able to pick up a refurbished Android phone for (seriously) $5, plus $15 for the monthly plan, and tax. It was super easy to order, shipped for free via 2-Day FedEx, and was easy to set up and get going.
Setting up the phone and activating it was very straightforward. I didn’t even need to cancel the old landline account. (Apparently, when you port your phone number out, the old phone company automatically cancels your landline service.)
The next step, porting the number to Google Voice, was not quite as straightforward. I had read the prep notes about making sure I had my TracFone account number and PIN ready. I had to reach out to TracFone chat support to get my account number – it was nowhere to be found in my online account. While reviewing my TracFone profile, I noticed that my home address info was not set, and I don’t think my PIN was either, so I set everything up before proceeding to set up Google Voice.
Porting from TracFone to Google Voice – My first Hiccup
I went to the Google Voice setup page, and started following the instructions to port my phone to Google Voice. After double-checking all the entries, and hitting Submit, GV returned an error.
Error Code: Order is being rejected for PIN/Passcode. If a PIN/Passcode has already been provided, please provide a valid PIN/Passcode. If there was no PIN/Passcode given, please provide a PIN/Passcode to proceed.. Vendor Error Remarks: Password is not correct
I verified that the PIN was correct in my TracFone profile, entered it in the GV page again, and hit “Update”.
I got the same error. So, I tried it a couple more times, then tried to find a Google Voice support number. Ha! That’s not going to happen!
Not knowing who’s end the problem was on, I contacted TracFone support, via their chat. They were very helpful, and shared that the PIN I was using *was* correct, and that their records showed a successful request from Google Voice. They said I should wait a couple of hours, and it’ll probably be processed.
However, it didn’t actually work out that way.
Searching around, I found a couple of mentions of folks just changing their PIN and trying again. I did, and that worked fine.
Checking back into Google Voice, it shows there’s no phone number linked to my account. I entered my old landline number, and it told me that that number was already associated with a GV account. So, I entered my current cell phone number, which is apparently where calls to my old landline will now be routed.
Calling my old landline number, it forwards to my cell phone just fine. Google Voice asks the caller to state their name, a step that filters out almost all spam calls without my ever even knowing about them.
Checking to make sure the TracFone subscription doesn’t renew, as was the case with CenturyLink (my landline provider), it appears that my TracFone account has been closed. I can’t login at all. Apparently, the same process is in place – you port out your phone number, and they automatically cancel your service (and account). (I checked for additional charges the next month, and there were not any.)
Now I get to keep my landline number without needing to update all those accounts that are linked to it, and I no longer have a $40 a month landline bill. Oh, and I am no longer greeted with that flashing light on the landline phone, letting me know that I have a (very likely robocall) message.
As an extra bonus, I also now have a spare smart phone that I can use for all sorts of purposes, like a bedside audible book player.
I can’t believe we waited this long to make the change. It has been well worth the little effort it took.