How to Get Out of a Cell Phone Contract
Cell phones can be a luxury. And if your financial circumstances change before the end of your contract period, you might need to know how to get out of a cell phone contract. (If you get laid off from your job, a $75 or $100 a month cell phone bill might be out of the question.)
Here are some tips and advice about extricating yourself from a cell phone contract without having to pay the exorbitant $300 or $400 cancellation fee.
Getting Out of a Cellphone Contract
The following 10 tips have been known to help others get out from underneath their cell phone contracts with little or no repercussions. We can’t guarantee that they’ll work for you, but they’re worth a try.
10 Tips to Getting Out of a Cell Phone Contract
1. Roam when You Talk
Many cell phone companies don’t charge roaming fees. But when you roam, it does cost the carrier more money. So set your phone’s preference to roam, and use it whenever you talk on the phone. This will cut into the cell phone company’s profits.
Better yet, use your phone while roaming during your free nights and weekend minutes to avoid using up any of your minutes. Since you’ll be costing the phone carrier money, it’s possible they’ll let you go without a fight.
2. Check for Changes to Your Contract
Any changes that were made to your contract that weren’t approved in writing by you are grounds for a voided contract. But the changes that void contracts are limited to higher prices for services.
If this applies to you, you have anywhere from 14 to 60 days to attempt to terminate your contract.
3. Use the Free Trial Period
If you are given a free trial period, be sure to use it. Knowing that the phone doesn’t live up to your needs or wants is much easier to handle before you’re locked in for 2 years. It’s better to test the product before you sign on the dotted line, if you can.
If you have problems with your phone, its coverage, or the carrier, complain often. Every time you call in to complain, document everything. Be sure to document the date and time you called, who you spoke to and what you discussed.
These records can help you renegotiate and/or justify canceling your contract without a cancellation fee.
5. Pawn the Service Off
Find someone to take over the cell phone service. Cell phone companies allow contracts to be transferred. If you cannot find someone, several online services allow you to list your phone and contract. Maybe someone would like to take the contract off your hands.
You pay a small fee to do this, but you avoid a huge termination fee. And the person who takes the offer avoids the start up costs of a cell phone contract.
6. Fake a Death or Say the Owner of the Phone Died
Cell contracts are void if the owner of the contract dies. If you happen to go the risky route of faking a death, be prepared. Some cell phone companies ask for proof. This means providing a death certificate.
This might not work, but it’s an option, if you think you can pull it off. (We don’t seriously recommend this, as it’s fraudulent, and we’re honest people. But it’s an entertaining idea, nonetheless.)
7. Just Pay Your Bill
This will depend on what your goals are and how much you’re paying already. But to put this into perspective, say you only have 6 months left at $90 a month. That’s $540. Most termination fees aren’t more than $400. Figure out when it’s cost effective to terminate your cellphone contract, so you can terminate your contract and save money.
On the other hand, if you only have 2 months left at $90 and the termination fee is $400, you would spend more to get out. It’s better to wait in this situation.
Also, note that some companies pro-rate their termination fees. Factor this into your decision too.
An online friend of mine suggested this works, though I’ve never tried moving to get out of a cell phone contrac. This is an extreme measure to take to get out from underneath your cell phone contract. I suppose if there is a will, there is a way.
The idea behind this is to move outside the coverage area so you cannot get service. Be prepared to fight long and hard on this one. You’re not guaranteed to have coverage in many contracts and you’ll have to prove that you moved.
9. Demand to See Paperwork
If your cell phone carrier cannot produce your contract, then you’re free to go. If they do, you could always hope that you didn’t sign it, and that no one noticed it when the deal was finalized.
10. Join the Military
This is an extreme action, if you’re not planning on an Army career otherwise, but if you are joining the Armed Services, that’s a good excuse to get out of your cell phone contract.
This measure is guaranteed to work, though you might find a tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan is more of an inconvenience than a bad cell phone contract. Join the army, tell your carrier that you don’t want your phone anymore, and they’ll have to honor that. Even cell phone corporations want to support the troops.
Breaking Cell Phone Contracts
Breaking cell phone contracts is not an easy feat. While these strategies aren’t guaranteed to work, some of them are worth a shot, if you’re unhappy with your current cell phone company. Cell phone companies will do everything in their power to avoid losing you as a customer. Even worse, they don’t want to lose you as a customer to another company.
If you’re having a hard time terminating your contract, the best thing to do here is to leverage the fear of losing you to another company and try to get some free services or money shaved off your bill. While there is no guarantee you’ll get a discount, it is better than nothing in the event you can’t figure out how to get out of your cell phone contract.