Find out how to cancel your mobile phone contract, including how much notice you need to give and any exit fees that might apply.
In the UK, there are three ways to cancel your mobile phone contract. The best way to cancel depends on whether you’re moving to another network and whether you’d like to keep your current phone number when you move.
In some cases, you’ll need to pay an “early termination charge” or “early exit fee” when you cancel your contract. This will apply when you cancel during the minimum term of your contract (i.e. the first 12 months or 24 months). In addition, a notice period of around 30 days may also apply if you’re following the standard cancellation process.
In this article, we’ll show you how to cancel your mobile phone contract. For each mobile network, we’ll discuss the exit fees and notice periods that apply when you cancel your contract. We’ll also discuss the discounts available, along with alternative solutions that might allow you to bypass the extra charges.
- 1 How To Cancel Your Contract
- 2 Overview of Early Exit Fees
- 3 Early Termination Fees: By Network
- 4 Alternatives to Cancelling Early
- 5 Notice Period Charges
- 6 More Information
How To Cancel Your Contract
Broadly speaking, there are three ways to cancel your mobile phone contract in the UK:
- The PAC Code Cancellation process should be used when you’re moving to another mobile network and want to keep your current phone number.
- The STAC Code Cancellation process should be used when you’re moving to another mobile network, but starting afresh with a new phone number.
- The standard cancellation process applies if you’re not moving to another network.
Our network-by-network guides will take you through the process of how to cancel your contract on each mobile network. Please select the mobile network on which you’d like to cancel your contract:
- Cancel BT Mobile Contract
- Cancel EE Contract
- Cancel iD Mobile Contract
- Cancel O2 Contract
- Cancel Sky Mobile Contract
- Cancel Tesco Mobile Contract
- Cancel Three Contract
- Cancel Virgin Mobile Contract
- Cancel Vodafone Contract
In the rest of this article, we’ll discuss early cancellation fees in more detail. We’ll also present a couple of alternatives to cancelling your contract early, which can save you money compared to paying the early termination fee.
Overview of Early Exit Fees
The following table shows a list of UK mobile networks and the early exit fees that apply if you’re cancelling within the minimum term of your contract. We’ve also shown the notice period that applies for a standard cancellation:
|Mobile Network||Early Termination Fee||Notice Period*|
|BT Mobile||99% of remaining monthly charges||30 days|
|EE||96% of remaining monthly charges||30 days|
|iD Mobile||Remaining monthly charges (less avoided costs)||30 days|
|O2||Full balance remaining on Device Plan (O2 Refresh)
96% of remaining monthly charges (non-Refresh)
|Sky Mobile||Plan dependent (£2.49 to £31.40 per remaining month)||31 days|
|Tesco Mobile||97% of remaining monthly charges||30 days|
|Three||97% of remaining monthly charges||30 days|
|Virgin Mobile||64% of remaining monthly charges||30 days|
|Vodafone||98% of remaining monthly charges||30 days|
You can find out the exact cancellation fee that applies on your plan by texting INFO to 85075. Alternatively, read on for more information about how the early exit fee is calculated on each network.
Early Termination Fees: By Network
The exact fee you’ll pay for ending your contract early will depend on the amount of time remaining on your contract. It also varies on a network-by-network basis, depending on the discounts they’re able to offer.
On BT Mobile, you’ll need to pay an early termination fee if you’re ending your contract early during the minimum initial contract period. This is described in clauses 14 to 18 of the BT Mobile consumer terms and conditions.
According to BT, the early termination fee is calculated as follows:
In their worked example, there are ‘negligible saved costs’ when you cancel a BT Mobile plan. For this reason, you should only expect to receive the 1% discount on remaining fees due.
If you purchased a mobile phone on contract from BT Mobile, it will have been loaned to you for the first six months of your plan. You’ll therefore need to return your phone if you cancel your contract within the first six months.
Source: BT Mobile Consumer Terms & Conditions (June 2022)
On EE, you’ll need to pay a Remaining Contract Charge (early termination charge) when you end your contract during the minimum initial term. This is set at 96% of the remaining charges over your minimum initial term.
The following calculation is given as an example on the EE website:
If you’re cancelling your EE contract outside of the minimum initial term, a 30 day notice period will apply for standard cancellations. You’ll be charged the full monthly fee for this 30 day period (EE calls this a “Notice Period Charge”).
You can cancel your EE contract by calling 150 or submitting your request online.
Source: EE Help: How do I cancel my Pay Monthly plan?
On giffgaff, there are no early termination fees as you’re not tied in to a contract. You can simply change your goodybag or cancel the automatic renewal at any time. Any credit that you’ve already added to your account is non-refundable so you should try to use it up before you leave for another network.
If you’ve purchased a handset from the giffgaff phone store, you can continue paying for this on a separate agreement even when you stop using your giffgaff SIM card. This is because the handset repayment plan is provided on a separate agreement through Klarna.
Source: giffgaff Website
If you’d like to cancel your iD Mobile plan during the minimum term of your contract, you’ll need to pay an early cancellation fee. This is stated in clause 8.1 of the iD Mobile terms and conditions:
An estimate of your early cancellation fee is available in the iD Mobile account area.
Source: iD Mobile Returns & Cancellations
If you’re a customer on O2 Refresh, you can leave at any time by paying off the remaining balance on your device plan. There are no early termination fees applying to the airtime element of your plan.
If you’re on a standard contract (including O2’s SIM-only plans and any handset plans that are taken through a third-party retailer), you’ll need to pay an early termination charge. This is 96% of the remaining monthly payments over your minimum initial term.
The following example calculation is given on the O2 website:
Source: O2 Help & Support: Leaving O2
If you’re a Plusnet Mobile customer, you’ll need to pay an early termination charge if you cancel within the minimum term of your contract. This is 96% of the remaining monthly payments on your plan, also taking any upcoming price increases into account:
Source: Plusnet Mobile price guide
On Sky Mobile, you’ll need to pay an early termination charge if you cancel your mobile contract early before the end of the minimum term. This is calculated based on the number of months remaining in your minimum contract term. You’ll get a discount on your remaining monthly payments (typically around 25-50% off the original monthly amount).
As of October 2022, the early termination fees on Sky Mobile are as follows:
You can reduce your early termination charge by switching to a different plan and removing any optional extras before you cancel. For instance, you can downgrade to a cheaper plan before requesting cancellation. For more information, see Sky’s webpage on changing your Mix.
Source: Sky: Charges for ending your Sky contract early (October 2022)
If you’re cancelling your contract early on Tesco Mobile, you’ll need to pay an Early Termination Charge.
According to the Tesco Mobile terms and conditions, this “will never be more than your monthly subscription price multiplied by the number of months remaining on your contract”. There’s a discount of “approximately 3% for any benefit [Tesco Mobile] might
Source: Tesco Mobile Pay Monthly terms and conditions (16th June 2022)
On Three, you’ll pay a early termination fee equal to the remaining monthly charges for the minimum term of your contract, less a variable discount which is currently 3%. This is detailed on page 25 of Three’s Pay Monthly price guide:
The following example calculation is given by Three on their website:
Source: Three Pay Monthly Price Guide (August 2022)
On Virgin Mobile, you’ll need to pay an Early Disconnection Fee if you leave your contract during the minimum initial term. This is approximately 64% of your monthly plan cost, multiplied by the number of months you have remaining on your plan.
The following worked example is given on the Virgin Mobile website:
The % multiplier used to calculate the Early Disconnection Fee is reviewed by Virgin Mobile on a quarter-by-quarter basis. For this reason, it may change slightly from time-to-time.
Source: Virgin Mobile Early Disconnection Fees
On Vodafone, you’ll need to pay an early termination fee that is 98% of the remaining payments over the minimum term of your contract. This is based on Vodafone giving you a 2% discount.
This formula for calculating the early termination fee is detailed within the Vodafone terms and conditions:
The following worked example is given on the Vodafone website:
If you have a Vodafone EVO plan, you can simply pay off the remainder of your device plan at any time:
Alternatives to Cancelling Early
In general, it’s best to avoid cancelling your mobile contract early. This is because you’re essentially paying off the remainder of your contract but you won’t be getting a service in return for your payment.
There are a number of ways to side-step early termination fees. For instance, you can change your mobile phone without changing your contract. Alternatively, if you’re struggling with poor coverage, there could be ways to improve this without cancelling your contract.
Changing Your Mobile Phone
If you’d like to change your mobile phone, it isn’t always necessary to change your contract as well.
When you upgrade your mobile phone through your network provider, you may need to pay an early termination fee for the remainder of your current contract.
To side-step this, you can buy a SIM-free handset elsewhere (e.g. from retailers like Amazon and the Carphone Warehouse). You can use your new mobile phone with your existing price plan so there’s no need to pay an early termination fee. Once the minimum term of your contract comes to an end, you can switch to a cheap SIM-only deal.
Struggling With Poor Coverage
If you’re struggling with poor mobile coverage at home or at work, it’s always worth talking to your mobile network about this. It might be a temporary issue due to maintenance on your local mast, or there might be some upcoming work scheduled in your area to improve it.
It might be possible to use Wi-Fi Calling or 4G Calling to improve the coverage you get, when you’re using a compatible mobile phone.
Most mobile networks will not allow you to cancel your contract early without paying an early termination fee, solely due to problems with coverage.
Leaving the UK
Unfortunately, very little can be done regarding early termination fees if you’re leaving the UK and moving to another country.
If you’re moving to another European country, it’s possible you’ll be able to use your existing UK plan there.
Meanwhile, if you’re moving to a country outside Europe, it can sometimes still be worth keeping your mobile contract open. This will allow you to use your mobile phone when you come back to the UK. You’ll also be able to keep your current UK-based phone number.
If you’re permanently moving abroad and not returning to the UK, consider asking a friend or family member if they’d like to take over your mobile contract.
Mobile phone contracts are a form of consumer credit, just like a loan from your bank or from your credit card company. If you think you might have difficulties paying your phone bill, there is lots of support available from different organisations. In the first instance, contact your mobile network as quickly as you can. They should offer you some alternative payment options. You can also consult the Citizens Advice Bureau and StepChange Debt for advice.
If you were to cancel your contract without paying a required early termination fee, your details will normally be passed to a Debt Collection Agency. This will affect your credit rating, and the debt will likely be pursued by other means.
Going forward, you may find it helpful to get a free Pay As You Go SIM card as this can give you more control over your mobile phone spend. There will also be no contracts and no early termination fees to worry about.
Notice Period Charges
If you’re cancelling your mobile phone contract through the standard cancellation process, you’ll normally need to give 30 days notice. During the 30 day period, you’ll need to pay your normal monthly fee (this is also known as the Notice Period Charge). The Notice Period Charge will apply even if you’re outside the minimum term of your contract.
If you’re cancelling your mobile phone contract through the PAC Code or STAC Code cancellation process, your mobile network is not permitted to impose a Notice Period Charge. This is due to Ofcom’s mobile switching legislation which banned overlapping contract charges from the 1st July 2019.
Where possible, we’d always recommend using the PAC Code or STAC Code cancellation process. This allows you to avoid paying the Notice Period Charge.
For more information, please see our step-by-step guides on how to cancel your contract on each network. You can also read more about the PAC Code process and how to change network or handset.
Your Comments 448 so far
We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 448 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.
Thank you for this interesting article. my and my daughter’s SIM contract with three were in the final month of our 12 month contract.
We have both been charged and early termination as we moved to different suppliers and I really can’t understand why as the final month was paid up so as far as we were concerned we didn’t owe them anything.
It seems like a scam if they charge everyone who’s leaving, a few pounds for not actually completing the switch, on the very next day after the contract expiry.
Even though it’s not a lot of money I feel the principal is very wrong.
Carina Dickinson said:
Bought a new phone from Vodafone by paying monthly for 12 months. Phone arrived 30 June. Had problems with it turning off every so often. Arranged a repair. They now tell me they can’t repair it so I have to have a ‘like new’ or pay £227.00 to cancel! I’m not wanting to cancel my pay monthly SIM card. I just don’t see why I should pay for a like new phone when I bought a new phone. Any help appreciated. Surely this isn’t legal?
Thanks for your comment. Your phone should be covered by a 12-month or 24-month manufacturer warranty so I’d recommend making a claim against that if you can. If it isn’t covered (e.g. because it isn’t due to a manufacturing issue), then it’s probable the ‘like new’ option from Vodafone would be your best bet (as they would only need to replace your device with something in a similar condition).
Hope this helps,
Louise Cuffaro said:
I live in an area amongst trees and broadband was very slow. I always had broadband through BT.
When working from home through Covid I needed more reliable wifi and was offered 4g through a mobile contract with BT. It is very reliable but costly and when my granddaughter came to stay I had to increase the amount of data per month and it was over £70. On the phone with BT the salesperson suggested EE (which is somehow connected with BT) but cheaper. I agreed and opened a mobile contract to get a 5g router. It arrived in July. I was on holiday. I tried to connect it but this was after the 14 days when you can cancel!
First problem the sim card would not go in the router and no click, it just kept popping up. I visited my nearest EE shop and they couldn’t make it go in and gave me the 0800 079 85686 number to call.
Because it was after 14 days they wouldn’t replace they collected the router to do a ‘investigation and repair’. They returned it saying they couldn’t find the fault I described but they found another fault and fixed it which should correct any other problem.
They sent the router back with the report.
This time the Sim card did go in but wouldn’t activate or be recognised but was stuck in the sim holder of the device.
This time they agreed to send a new router. They picked up the first router (with the sim stuck in) and a few days later delivered a new box but with no new sim. I had to phone and explain dilemma and the operative agreed to send out a new sim which would need activating.
Yesterday I received the sim card.
By this time I had spent 3 seperate 1 hour plus phone conversations with very nice but not successful technical advice – clearly theyhave a script but they often go off to ask someone why things weren’t working. On the last, call even trying to set up my ee account so that I can access my ee account wouldn’t and still doesn’t work! The technical advisor assures me my account is set up but when I login from my end it says unable to action request. After I put in my email, password etc.
The sim is in I have switched on the power. The power symbol is green. The internet symbol is red. The network type is red – no or invalid sim is inserted or no cellular signal. The wifi is green.
I phoned the number given by the EE shop and the waiting time is increased from 20 minutes to 30 minutes and I can’t get help on ee website because I can’t login! See above. I want to get out of this contract. I am not a technician, I can follow instructions but I am paying £45 per month and have not yet had a service!
BT has mistakenly kept my 4g going with them which I didn’t realise at first because I was away and when I discovered it I didn’t chase them to end it because at least I had wifi while I tried to set up the EE router. They are of course still taking the £75 monthly payment for data that runs out a few days before the next bill. This is a nightmare. I want at this moment to stay with BT and get rid of EE which has been a nightmare experience. Any advice on cancellling this contract or even contact EE by post!
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