How to cancel a phone contract without paying

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Have you got your eye on a new mobile phone but need to get out of your existing contract to get it? Here’s how you can cancel a phone contract without paying, and when you might still pay a fee. 

Can I end a phone contract early?

Yes, you can. However, you might pay a penalty or early termination fee depending on the terms of your contract. 

  • Check your contract – it’ll set out your cancellation rights in detail. If there’s anything you don’t understand, contact your network provider for help. 
  • Follow your network provider’s early termination process. They’re all a little different, but you can find the details either in your contract or on your provider’s website. 

Here’s one point to consider, though: early termination fees can be pretty steep. So, be sure you can afford the lump sum before you cancel your contract early or else you risk falling into debt

Can I cancel a phone contract without paying?

Sometimes, yes. You might be able to cancel early without penalty in the following circumstances:

  1. You’re still within the cooling-off period 
  2. The service is very poor 
  3. You’re on a pay-as-you-go deal 

So, the circumstances are fairly limited, but it’s definitely possible to cancel early without paying fees. 

How to cancel a phone contract without paying

Ready to cancel your contract early with no termination fee? Here’s what to do if you fall into one of the categories mentioned above.  

1. You’re still within the cooling-off period 

Did you take out your contract by phone or online? Then there’s a cooling-off period during which you can cancel for free.

Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, you have a minimum of 14 days to change your mind if you want to cancel. Check with your provider, though – they might have a longer cooling-off period. 

If you set up the contract in-person (e.g. at a phone store), then this statutory cooling-off period doesn’t apply. Again, though, you should ask your provider if they offer a cooling-off period for in-person purchases. 

To cancel, contact your provider and tell them you want to end the contract while you’re still in the cooling-off period. 

If you used the phone at all during this period, you can, of course, still cancel, but it won’t be completely free. You’ll need to pay for any services you’ve already used. 

2. The service is very poor

Sometimes, you can end a mobile phone contract without paying if the network service is very poor. So, for example, if there’s no service on a regular basis, it might be possible to ask to end your contract for free. 

It all depends on:

  • Which network you’re on
  • Whether your provider has an acceptable service guarantee, or something similar
  • Whether your network’s performance breaks the service guarantee 

So, check your contract in the first instance. Even if you can’t cancel for free, you might pay a reduced fee for the affected months. It all depends on your terms and conditions.  

3. You’re on a pay-as-you-go deal

If you’re a pay-as-you-go customer, there’s no need to pay anything. You can just stop using your SIM. Just remember, though, that you can’t transfer any remaining credit, so you’ll lose it if you switch to a new provider before using it.  


So, that’s how to cancel a phone contract without paying fees. But what if none of the above circumstances apply to you? Well, remember you can still cancel, but you’ll probably need to pay a termination fee.

if you’re trying to cancel because you want to cut your monthly bills or you want to save money, you might ask to switch to a lower monthly tariff instead. 

Did your provider raise the price of your contract? It’s sometimes possible to cancel early without paying fees. However, the rules are a little complex. Check with Citizens Advice if you’re unsure whether you can cancel without penalty in these circumstances. 

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