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How to cancel your phone contract early

As mobile phones have got smarter, not to mention swankier, mobile contracts have got longer – and that’s not always a good thing.

As mobile phones have got smarter, not to mention swankier, mobile contracts have got longer – and that’s not always a good thing.

A few years back it was normal to leave a mobile phone contract or get an upgrade every 12 months on a 12-month contract.

Now, however, if you're paying for a top-end handset, you'll probably be tied into a contract of two years or more, allowing you to spread the cost of your handset over that time.

But although that may be good news for anyone who wants to avoid the upfront cost of an expensive phone, it can also mean being trapped in a contract for a long time.

So what can you do if your circumstances change? Maybe the contract no longer meets your needs, maybe it's too expensive, or maybe you've moved house and found the signal isn't as good from your new home.

  • If your fixed contract is coming to an end
  • If your contract is brand new
  • If you're still in your contract
  • If your signal is rubbish

Can you cancel your phone contract early?

There are certain scenarios in which you can cancel or change your phone contract early. Read on and we’ll explain…

If you’re within 30 days of the end of your contract

If you have a month or less left on your phone contract, then you can get out of it without having to pay any exit fees as 30 days is the usual notice period for ending a deal.

Often, networks will contact you around this time to see if you want to upgrade a little early. You are, of course, well within your rights to say no and to look elsewhere for a different phone deal.

If you’re in the first 14 days

If you signed up for a new phone contract over the phone or online, you get what’s called a cooling off period, lasting 14 days.

This means you can exit the contract without penalty, although you may be charged for any calls you make, texts you send or data that you use.

However, if you buy a phone in person in a network’s shop or other mobile retailer, you are not entitled to the same 14 day cooling off period.

If this is the case, it may be worth calling your provider to see if they’ll honour such a period anyway. Citizens’ Advice suggests asking as a ‘goodwill gesture’.

If your network changes their prices

Networks are entitled to raise their prices by the retail price index (RPI) rate of inflation, although some choose not to and make this explicit when you sign up.

If it raises its prices beyond this rate, it is legally obliged to give you 30 days’ notice, during which time you can cancel your contract.

This does not apply if the rate rises after an initial offer of three or six months at a lower rate expires and you move onto a standard, monthly payment.

What if my signal is rubbish?

If you find your signal is not as advertised when you first take out your contract, and are within 14 days of it starting, then you may be entitled to cancellation (as long as you took out the deal online or on the phone).

However, if you move and find your signal isn’t good enough, things become a little trickier.

Your contract may contain an acceptable coverage guarantee, meaning if it drops off regularly you can get out of it.

Alternatively, you could ask a rival network to buy out the deal and move over. This isn’t always possible, however.

Be aware that cancelling a contract early can also cost a significant amount, especially if there is no guarantee of coverage in your original deal.

What are the fees for cancelling a contract?

Cancellation fees vary between networks. However, you’re looking at paying between 90% and 97% of the entire contract cost depending on your provider.

Three demands 97%, although this drops to 90% if you’ve previously upgraded with it. EE asks for 96%.

However, with O2, those on its refresh deals mean you have two contracts - one for the phone and one for data, calls and texts. That means you can upgrade early in specific circumstances without incurring any penalties.

Fees change all the time, however, so before you cancel, call and check how much you’ll have to pay.

How to cancel your phone contract

The first thing to do is call your provider and choose the ‘cancellation’ option when it comes up.

If you’re in your 14 day cooling off period, have 30 days left on your deal or have had your monthly fee raised higher than inflation, then you can go about the process easily and without fear of having to pay for the privilege of cancelling your phone contract.

If you just want out, then your provider will lay out how much you owe and when it needs to be paid.

Alternatively, some may try and convince you to stay by offering an early upgrade or sweeteners to entice you to sign for another period

How to keep your mobile phone number when switching

Once you've decided to make the switch, you should be able to keep your existing number. To do this, you need to call your current mobile provider and ask for your PAC - that's a Pre-Authorisation Code - and give this to your new provider; they will then arrange the transfer of your number.

You can now text your network to get your PAC. Alternatively, you can call and ask for one. Read our complete guide on how to transfer your number to a new phone to get the full lowdown.

It's quite likely that your current phone company will want 30 days' notice of your intention to switch. The process is easy to do and is free.

Finding the right deal

If you've just escaped a pricey plan then you will want to make doubly sure that the next contract you sign up for is right for you and is the best price available.

That's where MoneySuperMarket can help; visit our mobile phone page to compare all the latest phones and deals, including contract, pay-as-you-go and SIM only.

You can even search by phone model, so you know you're getting exactly what you want.

Finding the right deal

  • Three sim only
    5G
    • 8GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • £7.00 per month
    12 month contract From Three Mobile
  • Talkmobile sim only
    5G
    • Exclusive
    • 20GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • First 3 months half price
    • £3.98 per month
    1 month contract From Talkmobile
  • VOXI sim only
    5G
    • Exclusive
    • 45GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • Unlimited social media
    • £10.00 per month
    1 month contract From VOXI
  • O2 sim only
    5G
    • 20GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • 3 months free Disney+
    • £8.00 per month
    12 month contract From O2
  • Virgin sim only
    5G
    • 12GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • Roam like home in the EU
    • £7.00 per month
    1 month contract From Virgin Mobile
  • Vodafone sim only
    4G
    • 20GB of 4G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • £8.00 per month
    12 month contract From Vodafone

If you've just escaped a pricey plan then you will want to make doubly sure that the next contract you sign up for is right for you and is the best price available.

That's where MoneySuperMarket can help; visit our mobile phone page to compare all the latest phones and deals, including contract, pay-as-you-go and SIM only.

You can even search by phone model, so you know you're getting exactly what you want.

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