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How to Get Out of a Phone Contract

Getting out of a phone contract is something you may want to do if you are not getting the service you expect from your phone provider. You may also want to end a cell phone contract to switch to a new service provider or simply to reduce your expenses by cutting your cell phone plan. Nearly all cell phone and phone contracts have a termination fee tied into their contracts. These termination fees can cost a few hundred dollars, but there are cheaper ways to get out of a cell phone contract before the contract term ends.

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  1. Challenge your cell phone service provider's current contract. Contracts are two-way agreements. As a customer, you agree to pay your monthly bill and fees on time each month. As the provider, the phone company agrees to provide you with dependable and functioning phone service as advertised.

  2. Tell your service provider that the service is not what you expected, based on the initial sign-up terms. If your cell phone service reception is poor or you get little to no reception where you use the service the most, you can get out of the contract due to a failure of the company to provide sufficient service. Some phone companies have this in their terms of service, and will waive termination fees if their engineers can verify that their service is not usable in your home area.

  3. Point out shortcomings in your phone service that were advertised to you as being available. If you signed a contract and the plan stated that you could access the mobile Web on your phone, but you cannot, that can be considered a breach of contract. The provider may honour your request to cancel the service without a termination fee if it is discovered that you are not getting what you are paying for.

  4. Point out price increases. If you signed a contract for a plan that costs £32 a month and suddenly the price increased to £48 a month, you may be eligible to terminate the contract without penalty because you signed a contract at the lower price.

  5. File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau; their web site is included in the Resources section below. If the cell phone company has violated the terms of your contract and refuse to waive the termination fee, you can file a complaint. Sometimes the threat of a complaint is enough to make a cell phone service provider waive its termination fees.

  6. Trade or sell off your existing cell phone plan to another customer. Under the Resources section, you can find a site that arranges such plan trades. You may still have to pay a fee, but the fee will be less than the termination fee, and another person will take over the remainder of your cell phone contract.

  7. Browse the CellTrade site to find the best offers available. You can search by service provider, plan rates, plan type and location.

  8. Initiate an unofficial trade or transfer. If you have a friend or family member looking for a cell phone and plan, you can offer your existing plan to them. Just make sure that they can pay the bill on time, every time, as your name will remain on the contract.

  9. Attempt to get a new cell phone service provider to pay off your existing contract. From time to time, competitors will offer sign-up bonuses that will allow you to buy out your existing cell phone contract. Some will pay your termination fee or a portion of it, or give you credit for the amount of the fee. While this is rare, it happens from time to time. Simply ask a competing provider if they offer a program such as this.

  10. If you simply want to leave the cell phone plan and have no proof of a breach of contract by the provider, you may need to just pay the termination fee yourself. It is better to pay the termination fee than to simply stop paying your cell phone bill. Failure to continue making payments on an active phone contract can result in being reported to a collection agency, incurring additional fees and even having your credit score affected.

  11. Cancel your phone service promptly to avoid additional charges and pay the applicable termination fee. If you are near the end of your contract or you have been a longtime customer, mention that and the phone provider may consider a reduced fee.

  12. Tip

    If you are nearing the end of your contract, wait until the contract expires. Then you can cancel the phone plan on your own terms without paying a fee to do so.


    Do not simply stop paying your cell phone bill. This can result in your being reported to a collection agency and credit reporting agencies.

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About the Author

Maxwell Payne has been a freelance writer since 2007. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. He holds a Bachelor of Science in integrated science, business and technology.

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