It’s common – and good for your wallet – to switch to a better, cheaper broadband deal. But what happens if you can’t wait until the end of your current contract before switching?
Although you’re free to leave, most of the time you’ll need to pay a price for cancelling your contract early. Read on for more on the options you have and what to expect.
Will I be charged for leaving my broadband contract early?
In general, yes. If you decide to cancel your broadband before your minimum term is up, you’ll usually need to pay an exit fee.
What you’ll pay depends on the provider. But it’ll typically involve paying off the remaining months of your contract, plus the cost of any equipment provided, such as a router.
How can I get out of my broadband contract without paying?
Nevertheless, there are certain situations where you can leave your broadband contract without incurring any exit fees or extra charges. Read on to see if any of these scenarios apply to you.
Your minimum contract term has expired
Most broadband contracts last for 12, 18 or 24 months. If you can wait until your contract’s minimum term is up, you’re free to switch without having to pay a thing.
Not to mention, it always pays to change provider once your contract finishes. Most contracts go up in price after the minimum term ends, while you’ll get the cheapest deals and tempting rewards as a new customer somewhere else.
Some providers, like NOW Broadband, have no-contract, 30-day deals. They’re more expensive than a long-term contract, but it means you can quickly switch providers with no cancellation fee.
You're within the 14-day cooling off period
When you buy a broadband package, you’ll typically get a 14-day cooling off period after you sign up. If you change your mind within that timeframe, you have the right to leave your contract without having to pay a fee.
Your provider has raised your monthly bill
Sometimes, your provider may increase the cost of your monthly bill – even if you’re mid-contract. They should let you know about any price hikes in writing.
If the price hike is higher than the annual inflation rate, Ofcom rules state that you’re allowed to cancel your existing contract within 30 days of being notified, without paying an early exit fee.
However, providers are legally allowed to increase prices mid-contract in line with inflation rates – and most providers write this into your contract when you sign up.
Nevertheless, some providers, such as Virgin Media and Sky, don't have price hikes covered in their contracts. So, if you're a customer of either provider, it's worth checking your contract to see if you can cancel penalty-free.
Your provider hasn't done enough to solve an issue
If you’re frustrated with your provider because of an ongoing problem that hasn’t been resolved, Ofcom says you can cancel your contract and switch to another provider.
But it’s a bit of a grey area, and it’s easier said than done. It can be difficult to prove some faults, plus your provider might not be very helpful to your case.
The best thing to do is to record any outages you experience during your contract, and phone your provider every time the problem occurs. Even if it’s not helpful in solving the fault, it’ll have a record of these phone calls, which can be used as evidence in your complaint.
If you continue to face problems, you can contact either the Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS) or the Communications Ombudsman – one of them will take a look at your case.
Your broadband is too slow
Similar to the point above, if you’re experiencing broadband speeds that are slower than your provider’s minimum broadband speed, Ofcom states that you have the right to cancel your contract early without facing a charge.
If your broadband speed falls below the promised minimum broadband speed, the provider has one month to sort this out – if it fails to do this, you’re allowed to leave your contract, penalty-free.
Plus, you can also cancel any landline or TV packages bought at the same time as your broadband.
All the major providers, like Sky, BT, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, EE and Plusnet, are part of Ofcom’s broadband speed code of practice.
Your new provider will pay your exit fees
If you’re a new customer with a different provider, it may reimburse you for any exit fees incurred. Depending on the provider and the cost of your old broadband package, you may get enough money to cover leaving your contract a few months early.
How can I get out of a contract with my provider?
If none of the above situations apply to you, you’ll have to pay a charge for leaving your contract early. Different providers have their own way of calculating costs – read on for more on what to expect.
How to get out of contract with BT
BT charges a fee for every month left on your contract at the time of cancellation, although from this it’ll subtract 1% if you send your final payment early, as well as take off any costs it’ll save as a result of you leaving early.
And if you cancel part way through a month, it’ll work out the charge on a pro rata basis.
You’ll need to give 30 days’ notice before you leave.
How to get out of contract with Sky
The amount you’ll have to pay for leaving your contract with Sky early depends on several things: how many days are left on the minimum term contract, any days you’ve already been billed in advance, and any additional subscriptions you have (such as Sky TV). You’re also responsible for returning any equipment provided.
One thing worth mentioning is that Sky’s cooling off period is longer than most. You have 31 days from the delivery or activation of your router to cancel your contract without incurring an exit fee.
Otherwise, you need to give Sky 14 days’ notice to cancel your broadband.
How to get out of contract with Virgin Media
Virgin Media calculates its exit fees from several factors: the services you have (for example, if you had a bundle with a Virgin Media phone plan or Virgin Media TV), how much you pay for those services, and how long is left on your minimum term for each service.
So, if you’re thinking of leaving your Virgin Media broadband contract early, and you have additional bundled services, you might find that the exit charges add up quite a bit.
How to get out of contract with TalkTalk
TalkTalk will charge you early termination fees for both broadband and TV. What you’ll pay depends on the services you have and the number of months left on your minimum term contract.
If you’re a new customer but have changed your mind, you have a 20-day cooling off period from your order date to cancel your contract without penalty. And if you’ve signed up for TalkTalk’s fibre broadband, you’re covered by its Great Connection Guarantee – so if you’re unhappy with your fibre connection, you have 30 days to leave without paying an exit fee.
How to get out of contract with EE
EE’s cancellation charge depends on the package you have, the services you’re using (such as landline or TV), and the number of months left on your contract.
It’s calculated by adding together any outstanding monthly charges, then subtracting any costs EE’s saved and 4% for getting your final payment early.
If you have EE TV, you’ll need to return your EE TV box within 30 days, or you’ll face an extra charge on your final bill. You can either keep, recycle or return your router – it’s up to you.
How to get out of contract with Plusnet
Plusnet charges an exit fee for its broadband and phone services. What you’re charged depends on the price you pay and the amount of time left in your contract.
If you want to leave your contract, you’ll need to give Plusnet 14 days’ notice.