How to get out of a phone contract: cancel your deal early

Woman with phone in hand thinking how to get out of a phone contract early

Find out how to get out of a phone contract early without paying a penalty and how to switch your network provider. 

Is your mobile phone contract no longer working out for you? Be it poor signal or high costs, are you wondering how to get out of it? 

Mobile phone contracts often last for 24 months. But with better SIM only deals coming out, that’s a long wait to make the most of a cheaper offer. It could be tempting to want to upgrade your phone contract, especially if it’s no longer value for your money. 

But is it worth paying the penalty fee? And is there a way to avoid it completely? We’ve got you covered on how to cancel your mobile contract and our roundup of the best SIM only deals. 

Can you cancel your phone contract early?

Yes, you can cancel your phone contract early. But you can only do it in particular cases without having to pay a penalty fee. This is if:

1. You’re within 30 days of the contract end date

If you’re nearing the end of your mobile phone contract, you can leave penalty-free and switch your mobile provider

You have to give a notice period of 30 days to end a deal, after which you will start receiving offers from your mobile network. 

However, you can always say no and go for something better. This can be because another provider has better rewards, faster connectivity or cheaper deals. 

It’s worth noting that SIM contracts are 30-day rolling contracts, so you’re free to leave anytime you like. But the same 30-day notice applies here as well.

2. You’re in the 14-day cooling-off period

When you sign up for a new phone contract, you get a ‘cooling-off’ period which typically lasts for 14 days. During this time, if you change your mind, you can leave penalty-free. 

However, remember that this doesn’t cover any calls, texts or mobile data charges you will have used. 

Plus, if you bought a phone in person, the cooling-off period might not exist or it might be different. So check with your mobile network provider to see if it offers such a period. 

If the phone has any faults, you have 30 days to return it. 

3. If there are any mid-contract price hikes

Most mobile provider networks have annual price hikes written into the phone contracts when you first sign up. 

However, if the rise is higher than the percentage that was mentioned, your network has to give you a 30-day notice. During this period, you can cancel the contract and switch to a cheaper deal. 

4. If you have problems with your network/signal

If you’re facing problems with your signal quality, you can get a 14-day cooling-off period to cancel the contract. 

Bear in mind that this is only if you signed up for the phone contract online or over the phone. If you signed up in person through a sales representative or someone else, you’ll have to check with them beforehand. 

However, it gets more complicated if you move house and the signal is bad at your new address. Some contracts offer an ‘acceptable coverage guarantee’ where you can cancel if your signal drops regularly. But not all mobile networks provide this. 

It’s worth speaking to your provider to see if it will offer you this out of goodwill. But bear in mind that the worst-case scenario here would be you leaving by paying a heavy penalty fee.  

So what should you do in such cases? Do a coverage check before choosing a mobile phone contract for your new address. 

Do I have to pay fees for cancelling my phone contract early?

Yes, if you cancel your phone contract before your minimum term ends. You will be charged an early termination fee or for the rest of the months left on your contract. 

Typically, this means high costs. So you’re probably better off staying with your provider until your contract ends. Then, you can find a cheaper deal and make the switch. 

How much do I need to pay?

It depends on the mobile network provider. We’ve done a breakdown below: 

Mobile network provider Early termination policy
EE 96% of your remaining contract cost
giffgaff No early termination fee as it’s a 30-day rolling contract
O2 • Need to pay any early termination charges on your account. • If you’re on Pay As You Go, you will receive a refund. • O2 Refresh customers on Airtime plans don’t have to pay any early termination charges.
Three Around 97% of your remaining contract cost, or 90% if you have previously been in a contract with Three
Vodafone None if you cancel your contract within the first month, or about 98% of your remaining contract cost if you do it later

Wondering exactly how much you owe?

Simply text INFO to 85075 from your network provider’s phone number. You will then find out what the charges are if you leave your contract now. 

How to get out of a phone contract early

By text

Woman texting on smart phone at cafe to get out of a phone contract early

The best way to get out of your phone contract is by text. 

To keep your mobile number, you need to text the word PAC to 65075, which is free. After that, you will receive a code to your new network from your previous one and any early termination charges. 

If you don’t share this code with your new network within 30 days, your previous contract won’t be cancelled. You will have to request another code and follow the same instructions again. 

The sooner you do this the better. It will just take one working day for the switch to be done. 

Contact your network provider directly

You can contact your mobile network provider but it might try to persuade you to stay as a customer. 

It might offer you freebies or upgrades but it’s your choice whether you want to stay or switch. And if you know your way around haggling, you might end up getting an even better deal. 

While you’re still in contract, you will have to give a 30-day notice and pay any termination charges before leaving. If you’re out of contract, you’re free to leave.

Can I keep my phone number while switching?

A smartphone touchscreen keypad

Yes you can keep your number if you’re switching to a new mobile network. 

We’ve made it easier with our step-by-step guide on ‘How to keep the same phone number when switching networks’. Whether you’re with O2, Sky or EE, we’ve got all the details you need. 

Happy with your network provider but want to pay less? Find out how to lower your mobile phone bill and if you’re eligible for social mobile tariffs.