Sooner or later, most people will switch to a better broadband deal. But what exactly can you do if 'sooner' is the pressing factor? Will you have to pay penalty fees – and is there any way to get out of them?
The short answer is yes – you’ll normally have to pay an exit fee for leaving your broadband contract early. Nevertheless, there are certain scenarios where you don’t need to pay anything extra.
Read on and we'll dig into exactly what your options are if you want to cancel your contract early.
Will I be charged for leaving my broadband contract early?
Unfortunately, yes. Most of the time, you’ll have to pay exit charges to cancel your broadband before the minimum term is up.
What you'll pay depends on the provider. Typically, you'll have to pay off the remaining months all at once, as well as the cost of any equipment they supplied and any additional services you’re subscribed to.
That said, there are some exceptions that allow you to get out of a broadband contract early without having to pay extra. Read on as we go into more detail.
Can I get out of my broadband contract without paying?
In some cases, you can get out of a broadband contract without having to pay exit fees or additional charges. If any of the following apply, you should be golden:
Your minimum contract term has expired
Most broadband contracts last for 12, 18 or 24 months. Once that minimum term is up, you can switch without penalty. Plus, it’s the best time to switch provider, so you’ll be able to shop around and get a better deal.
If you’re on a rolling 30-day deal, you’re in luck – you can switch your broadband deal whenever you want for free, as you’re not tied to a contract.
To see current deals, simply enter your postcode into the box below:
Compare broadband deals in your area
You're within the 14-day cooling off period
When you buy a package online, you'll be given a ‘cooling off’ period – that’s usually 14 days of your broadband going live.
If you change your mind and decide to leave your contract within that window of time, you won't face any early exit fees.
Your provider has raised your monthly bill
Providers can sometimes raise the cost of your monthly bill, even if you're mid-contract. They'll let you know of any price rises in writing. If it’s higher than the annual inflation rate, Ofcom rules state that you’re allowed to leave your 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. This is written into your contract when you sign up. At the time of writing, you may be facing a big price increase – but as this is in line with current inflation rates, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to leave your contract early, penalty-free.
The only exceptions right now are Virgin Media and Sky, both of which don’t currently have price hikes covered in their contracts. So, if you’re a Virgin Media or Sky broadband customer facing a mid-contract price rise, check your contract – you may find that you have the right to cancel without paying a fee.
Your provider hasn't done enough to solve any issues
Ofcom states that if you have a fault that has persisted for some time, and your provider has failed to resolve it, you can cancel your service and switch to another.
That said, it's not always so easy. Some faults can be hard to prove, and providers aren't going to go out of their way to help you do it. Your best bet is to make a note of any outages and phone your provider every time the problem occurs. They'll have a record of the phone calls, which adds credence to your complaint.
If you continue to face problems, you can contact either the Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS) or the Communications Ombudsman, and one of them will take a look at your case. Read our guide to consumer rights for more on that.
You’re not getting the broadband speed you were promised
Similar to the point above, Ofcom says you have the right to cancel your contract early and penalty-free if you’re not getting your provider’s minimum broadband speed. This is Ofcom’s broadband speed code of practice, and all the major providers are part of this.
So, if you’re experiencing broadband speeds that regularly fall below the promised minimum speed, your provider should sort this out within one month. If the problem persists and it’s on their end, you can leave your contract early without paying any fees.
Your new provider will pay your exit fees
Some providers will try to attract new customers by offering to reimburse any exit fees incurred by leaving your old contract.
Depending on the new provider, the cost of your old broadband package and how many months you have left on your contract, you may get enough money to cover leaving your contract a few months early.
How to get out of contract with BT
If you want to leave BT early, and the aforementioned exemptions don't apply, you’ll have to pay cancellation charges. You should give 30 days’ notice if you want to cancel.
BT will calculate the final fee by first multiplying the monthly cost by the number of months left on your contract. It will then subtract any savings it’ll make as a result of you leaving early, as well as 1% if it receives your final payment early.
See BT's termination charges on its website.
How to get out of contract with Plusnet
Plusnet requires 14 days’ notice to cancel an account. If you're cancelling early, you'll have to pay a termination charge. As with most other providers, this is your monthly charge multiplied by the amount of time left on your contract (on a pro rata basis), minus any savings Plusnet makes, 1% for early payment, and any remaining credit on your account.
For more on its termination charges, visit Plusnet's website.
How to get out of contract with Sky
If you leave your Sky contract early, early termination charges will apply. The amount you'll be charged depends on a few things: how long you have left on your contract, any days you've paid in advance, and any additional subscriptions or services you’re signed up to. For example, if you also cancel Sky TV, you'll face exit fees for that too.
Broadly speaking, Sky multiplies its exit fees by the number of days left on your contract, minus any business costs it saves and a discount for early payment.
See more information on how charges are calculated on Sky’s website.
How to get out of contract with Virgin Media
Leaving Virgin Media early? Yup – termination charges will ensue. As with the other providers, you'll be charged a fee for the remaining months on your contract, minus any costs it’ll save. If you take Virgin Media TV or any other services, you'll also be charged for cancelling that. That means the costs can really stack up.
Check out Virgin Media's charges to see how much you can expect to pay.
How to get out of contract with TalkTalk
You’ll also need to return any TalkTalk equipment within 42 days, or you may be charged.
Check out TalkTalk's early termination rates to find out more.
How to get out of contract with EE
EE calculates its early exit fees by adding all your outstanding monthly charges, taking away any savings it’ll make plus 4% for early payment. It then multiples that figure by the number of months left on your contract.
You just need to give them 14 days’ notice to end your services. Check out EE's list of charges to find out more.
Should I leave my contract early?
It's a common question and the honest answer is: it depends.
That's not us trying to sit on the fence – it's just that it very much depends on your situation. In most cases, though, it’s rarely a good idea to cancel your contract early if you can’t leave penalty-free. This is because early termination charges can really rack up, particularly if you have equipment or other services to pay off.
But if you're unhappy with your current plan and you spot a deal that seems much more suitable, it then becomes a matter of maths. Find out how much you'll pay for leaving (see the links above, or contact your provider), and weigh up whether it’s worth making the switch.
It’s important to consider the following:
- Will the cost of leaving be offset by a saving on your new deal?
- Will your new provider contribute towards the cost of your exit fees?
- Is it worth the financial hit to escape from your old package?
If you’ve decided it’s worth leaving your contract early, check out today's best deals below:
*Average speeds are based on the download speeds of at least 50% of customers at peak time(8pm to 10pm). Speed can be affected by a range of technical and environmental factors. The speed you receive where you live may be lower than that listed above. You can check the estimated speed to your property prior to purchasing.