As a price comparison site, we encourage shopping around when it comes to finding the best mobile phone deals. But what if you’re already in a contract? Is it possible to leave early?
Yes, but it’ll almost certainly cost you. Read on to find out what you should be looking out for if you’re considering cancelling your contract before the end date, and to learn what your options are.
A mobile phone contract is an agreement you make with the network network whereby you promise to pay a total sum in monthly instalments for an agreed period of time. So, if you were to leave your contract early, the network wouldn’t receive all the money you agreed to pay them: hence termination fees. It’s a way a network ensures it recoups some, if not all of, the money owed.
Some networks go the whole haul: they want all that money back! This means you’ll be requested to buyout the rest of your contract, which often also includes a notice fee (more on this later). For example: if you have a 24-month contract at £30 per month, and want to cancel after 14 months, your network could charge you for the remaining 10 months, in this case £300 (10 x £30). Buyouts can be costly.
Other mobile networks may charge slightly less depending on how long you have left on your contract. Some even offer discounts on the termination fee, for instance as stated in their terms and conditions if you signed up in a promotional period, or even if you have (to date!) been a loyal customer. It’s always best to ring the company directly for the correct information, and it’s also worth negotiating to see if they’ll agree to a reduction in the termination fee.
Some good news! If you’re less than 14 days into your contract, then this falls into the warranty period and you can legally cancel your contract free of charge. This can also be a great time to shop around and compare mobile phone deals if you love your new handset but are looking for a more suitable package.
It is worth noting though that this warranty period generally only applies if you purchased your contract over the phone or online, rather than in-store where the customer is able to physically try out the handset. Still, we recommend giving it a go!
In addition to termination fees, most mobile networks will also charge you for the 30 days following notification of cancellation. We know, it’s a bit cheeky. As a side note, this fee sometimes still exists even if you’ve seen out the entirety of your contract, so make sure you notify your network before the end date to avoid getting charged extra! You will always need to notify your network if you plan to cancel your contract.
Really think about your reasons for cancelling to make sure it’s absolutely necessary.
If you’re cancelling your contract to get a new handset, then it’s probably not worth it. The termination fees will likely outweigh the cost of a new device. On the other hand, if you’re moving to a location where reception isn’t covered by your mobile network, then you may be entitled to free cancellation. This is because your network has a duty to provide you with a certain level of service, but one which may not be met if there’s little coverage in that area. Speak to your network to find out.
If you want to cancel your contract due to the monthly cost, you may have the option to get a cheaper mobile phone deal: some networks may allow you to downgrade your tariff each month, which could save you money if you find you’re frequently not reaching your maximum minutes, texts and data allowance. You could also trade in your phone for a more affordable model, and then even offset this against your exit fees.