If you are like me, you probably don’t like being stuck in a cell phone contract. Unfortunately, canceling your cell phone contract often comes with an Early Termination Fee (ETF) that can run as high as $200!
The good news is there are ways to get out of your contract without paying any fees. If you are a military member, there are a few extra clauses that allow you to cancel your cell phone contract without paying any early termination fees.
Cancel Your Cell Phone Contract When You PCS
One way to cancel your cell phone contract without early termination fees is when you PCS. You won’t be able to do this every time, but you should be able to cancel your contract if you PCS to a location where your current cell phone provider doesn’t have service, or if you PCS overseas. Be sure to show the cell phone provider a copy of your military ID card and a copy of your orders.
I’ve read about some cell phone providers trying to force military members to continue paying their contracts even when the PCS overseas, but you should insist that they allow you out of the contract.
Cancel Your Cell Phone Contract When You Deploy
Deployments are not always a guaranteed way to get out of your cell phone contract without paying early termination fees, but you may be able to do it. Be sure to take a copy of your military ID and orders with you, or you may be able to fax in a copy.
Your best bet to be able to cancel your contract is when your deployment is for longer than 6 months. If the cell phone provider will not cancel your contract for you, they will probably allow you to place your line on vacation status, which places your contract on hold until you return. You will be able to keep your phone number and will still remain on contract when you return from overseas.
Sell or Transfer Your Cell Phone Contract
If canceling your contract doesn’t work, you may be able to sell or transfer your cell phone contract and avoid early termination fees. You may be able to find a friend or relative willing to take over your contract. All you need to do is call the cell phone provider and do an assumption of liability transfer, which legally transfers your contract to another person – that way you won’t get stuck holding the bill.
If you need help finding someone interested in taking over your contract, you can try posting your phone on Craig’s List, or using a free service like Trade My Cellular, who will match you up with people around the US. You can also try Cell Swapper and Cell Trade USA which provide a similar service for a $20 fee, but seem to have more options.
Go to a Cell Provider That Will Pay Your ETF
The Cell phone industry is incredibly competitive right now, and some cell phone service providers are even going as far as offering to pay your Early Termination Fee if you switch to their service. One such company is T-Mobile, which will has a current offer that will allow you to transfer up to 10 lines, and they will pay the Early Termination Fee for each line! Here’s how it works:
- Visit this offer link.
- Transfer your current phone number to T-Mobile
- Process your trade-in within 14 days of your new phone purchase (T-Mobile will offer you credit based on the market value for your eligible device).
- After entering your order number and T-Mobile phone number, print the postage paid shipping label and send in your device.
- Submit your final bill. When you receive your current carrier’s final bill with your Early Termination Fees (ETFs), submit the bill to T-Mobile electronically within 2 calendar months of your number transfer to T-Mobile for reimbursement (up to 10 lines).
- Get up to $350 per line based on the Early Termination Fees (ETFs) on your carrier’s final bill.
- Eligible device trade-in, device purchase, qualifying plan and port-in required.
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
Another possible way out of your contract is through protections provided by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which gives military members certain legal protections based on the military service. Please me be sure to read more about this act and the benefits it provides before taking action on it. The SCRA won’t apply to every situation.
You have enough to worry about when you serve our country. Hopefully your cell phone contract isn’t one of them.
Photo credit: thinkpanama