You can only get away with leeching off your parents' bill for so long. Here's what to do when the free data fountain dries up.
Remember when you used to stay up all night on YouTube and Snapchat, burning through gigabytes from your family's pool of shared data? Those were happier days. But it was bound to come to an end when a pesky telco rep let your folks know that 90% of the account's usage was coming from one mobile number, yours.
Now you've been kicked to the kerb, exiled from the promised land of unlimited calls and bountiful data. Where to next?
What you need
Getting your phone number transferred into your own name can be a painful process if you don't go into it fully prepared. If you rock up to a telco store expecting to reclaim your number without the original owner or sufficient identification, you can fully expect to be shown the door.
Different providers have different change of ownership (commonly known as CHOWN internally) processes, but in general, here's what you will need.
- At least 70 points of identification from the current account holder (your parents in this case)
- At least 100 points of identification from the new account holder (you)
- Account number and service number (mobile number)
Some telcos allow you to perform a change of ownership online, but the traditional way is filling out a form and taking it to a store.
What makes up 100 points of identification?
New South Wales' Roads and Maritime Services has a strict guide for the point value of each type of identification. Here's a quick guide to get you on your way.
Primary Documents (70 points)
- Birth certificate
- Birth card issued by New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages
- Current passport
- Expired passport (active and within two years of expiry)
Secondary documents with photograph and name (40 points)
- Australian driver's license
- RMS issued photo card
- Australian license or permit (eg, a boating licence)
- ID card issued to public employees
- ID card issued as evidence of entitlement to a financial benefit (eg, Centrelink card)
- Tertiary education identification
Document with name and address (35 points)
- Council rates
Document with name and signature (25 points)
- Credit card
- Foreign driver license
- Medicare card
- EFTPOS card
For more information on accepted identity documents, please visit the official RMS New South Wales website.
Online or in-store?
Optus has an online Transfer of Ownership, whereas Vodafone, Virgin Mobile and Telstra still have physical forms that you must fill out. While providers usual keep a healthy supply of change of ownership forms in their brick and mortar stores, it's still a good idea to come prepared with your forms filled out and photocopies of your identification.
Here's a list of Change of Ownership forms from popular providers:
- Optus Change of Ownership of Digital Services
- Virgin Change of Ownership Request
- Telstra Change of Ownership Consumer to Consumer
As long as you have all the necessary identification photocopied and all the forms filled out, you shouldn't need the previous owner (your parents) present when you transfer the service but it's always good to check with your local store before heading in. Also, your parents can't perform the change of ownership without you present. It's 100% up to you as you're essentially signing up to a new service and keeping the same phone number.
Picking a new plan
When moving off your parent's account, it can be tempting to make a beeline for the latest iPhone. However, it's important to take your current financial situation into consideration. For example, if you're a uni student with unreliable work hours, a 24-month contract might not be ideal for you.
There's not only the risk of racking up a huge bill thanks to excess data and late payment charges, but there's also a chance of it negatively affecting your credit score if you can't keep up with the payments. This is a much more detrimental punishment in the long term.
For those people, we'd recommend a no-strings-attached prepaid plan and, if it's economically viable, purchasing your handset outright.
If you do have regular work and you're confident in your ability to pay off a monthly mobile plan payment, we'd recommend comparing your plans side-by-side. There are a lot of things to consider when comparing a mobile plan. Here are a few things to research before committing to anything long term.
- Credit score. First and foremost, you will have to pass a credit check before being accepted for a 24-month contract. A 24-month phone plan is essentially a line of credit and like all credit applications, you have to prove you have a clean history before being approved. We'd recommend checking your credit score with our free tool before diving in.
- The network in your area. Sure Optus might have a reasonably priced plan with loads of data but if your area doesn't get great Optus reception, you will be pulling your hair out for the next 24 months just trying to send a text. Most providers have a coverage map on their website but these aren't always the best indication. Geographical obstructions (such as living in a valley) can have a huge effect on your service. If possible, it's always good to ask your friends and family in the area what provider they are with and whether they're happy with their service.
- Data/dollar value. This one seems like an obvious one, but it's always good to compare mobile plans with the same data amount side-by-side. For example, if you're after a plan with 10GB or more, you can use our comparison engine to filter out plans containing 10GB or more.
- Additional handset costs. Let's say you're shopping for an iPhone 7. Virgin and Optus may offer it on plans that include close to or the same amount of data for a similar price, but Optus might charge $20 per month extra and Virgin may charge $15, lowering your total minimum cost significantly. Our mobile comparison engine shows the total price, including the monthly base plan price and any additional handset costs when you select a phone.