How to cancel your mobile contract early

mobile contract

These days, a mobile phone contract can be a two-year commitment. And when your provider doesn’t deliver on what they promised when you signed up, or you see a phone or deal you really want before the end, it can be frustrating, to say the least.

Thankfully, it is possible to get out of a contract early. Whether you’re hacked off with poor customer service, or you’ve seen a deal elsewhere that could save you money, everything you need to know about ditching a contract early is listed below.

Are you coming to the end of your contract?

Are you counting down the days until your current mobile contract ends? If so, you might be contemplating the most efficient and cost-effective way to transition to a new plan.

If you’re nearing the end of your contract, we'd recommend waiting until it expires to avoid early exit charges.

That said, if you are at the tail end, compare the best deals as early as possible so you're ready to switch when the time comes.

Will you be charged for cancelling your mobile contract early?

Unfortunately, yes - your provider isn’t going to let you go that easily.

In most cases, you’ll be charged the remainder of your contract, and your provider will expect payment in a lump sum. If you’re two months into a 24-month contract, for example, and you pay £25 a month, you’d need to fork out £550 to get out of the contract.

However, don't lose hope just yet. There are ways to avoid these hefty charges in certain situations.

Can I get out of my mobile contract early without charges?

Now you might be wondering, under what circumstances can one exit a mobile contract without being hit by cancellation charges?

Cooling-off period

The initial fourteen days of your contract are known as your ‘cooling-off period’, a time when you can cancel without any charges.

That said, if you purchase a mobile in-store, you won’t get a cooling off period. This is because Consumer Contracts Regulations only apply distance selling rules to purchases made over the internet, or if a salesman comes to your door. To avoid this, we recommend you make your mobile purchase online.

Pay As You Go

Good news for Pay As You Go users: since you're not on a contract, you can breathe easy knowing that early-termination charges aren't a concern for you.

Bad service

While providers are not legally required to cancel contracts for bad service, they might offer solutions to keep you as a customer. They may let you change to an alternative plan, for example - so it's certainly worth getting in touch with them.

Downgrade tariff

In some cases, you might be able to negotiate your way into a cheaper tariff. It's not a widespread practice, but it's worth asking your provider if downgrading your plan to save money is an option.

How will my network work out my cancellation charge?

Let's delve into the policies of major UK networks and how they handle early termination.

EE

EE requires at least a 30-day notice for contract cancellation and will charge early termination fees. To calculate the exact amount you owe to EE, check its terms and conditions.

Three

Similarly, Three mandates a 30-day notice and imposes a late payment fee. It's crucial to stay on top of payments to avoid additional charges.

O2

O2 also requires the full payment of the contract if cancelled within the term. Contract durations with O2 can vary, so check your My O2 account for precise details. O2 Refresh plan holders have the advantage of being able to pay off their device separately from service charges.

Vodafone

Vodafone sets itself apart by offering a 30-day cooling-off period. This gives customers a longer time frame to decide if they're satisfied with their service before committing fully.

Can I cancel without any charges if I’m moving abroad?

Moving abroad doesn't automatically exempt you from cancellation charges. If leaving the country is a personal choice, your provider may expect you to settle any outstanding contract costs. Alternatively, if you're planning a return to the UK, keeping your account open could be a viable option.

Can I keep my number once I’ve cancelled?

Absolutely. Keeping your number post-cancellation is simpler than you might think. Request a transfer code from your old mobile operator, which is valid for 30 days, and provide it to your new provider upon sign-up.

What next?

Shedding a bad contract can feel like a weight off your shoulders, and once you’re free, the next thing you should do is shop around for the best deals.

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of being tied in to yet another twenty-four-month contract, you may want to consider going SIM-free. This would give you more flexibility, and if you can afford to pay for a new handset upfront or have an old one you're happy to keep using, will also save you money.

We’ve put together the best SIM-only deals available, right here.

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