Find out how to cancel your mobile phone contract, including any exit fees that might apply and how you can get around them.
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 mobile network and whether you’d like to keep your phone number when you do so.
Sometimes, it’ll be necessary to pay an “early termination charge” or “early exit fee” when you cancel your contract during the minimum initial term (the first 12 months or 24 months of your contract). In addition, a notice period of around 30 days could 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 network, we’ll discuss the exit fees and notice periods that apply when cancelling your contract. We’ll also discuss the discounts that are 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 you’d like to cancel your contract on:
- 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 the early termination charge.
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 inside the minimum term of your contract. We’ve also shown the notice period that applies for standard cancellation:
|Mobile Network||Early Termination Fee||Notice Period*|
|BT Mobile||Plan dependent (£6.25 to £70.75 per remaining month)||30 days|
|EE||80% 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)
83.3% of remaining monthly charges (non-Refresh)
|Sky Mobile||Plan dependent (£1.65 to £23.14 per remaining month)||31 days|
|Tesco Mobile||Enquire with network||30 days|
|Three||80% of remaining monthly charges||30 days|
|Virgin Mobile||44% of remaining monthly charges||30 days|
|Vodafone||81.7% of remaining monthly charges||30 days|
You can find out the exact cancellation fee that applies to your contract by texting INFO to 85075. Alternatively, read on for more information on 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 will also vary on a network-by-network basis, depending on the discounts they’re able to offer.
On BT Mobile, you’ll pay an early termination fee if you’re ending your contract early during the minimum initial term. This is described in clauses 14 to 18 of the BT Mobile consumer terms and conditions.
If you’re on a BT Mobile SIM Only plan, the early termination fee will be calculated as follows based on the remaining months on your plan:
If your BT Mobile plan was purchased with a handset, the early termination fee will depend on the “tier” classification of your handset (it’ll be between £9.75 and £70.75 per remaining month on your contract). Please see the BT Mobile price guide for further information on how to calculate these charges.
If you cancel your 24-month contract during the initial 6 month period, you may also need to return your handset to BT.
Source: BT Mobile Consumer Terms & Conditions (January 2019)
On EE, you’ll need to pay a Remaining Contract Charge (early termination charge) when ending your contract during the minimum initial term. This is set at around 80% of the remaining monthly charges over your minimum initial term.
The following example calculation is given on the EE website:
The figure of 80% is derived from the removal of 20% VAT and a further 4% discount that is offered by EE (e.g. £100 / 1.20 * 0.96 = £80).
If you’re cancelling your EE contract outside the minimum initial term, a 30 day notice period will apply for standard cancellations. You’ll be charged the full monthly fee for another 30 days after requesting your cancellation (EE calls this a “Notice Period Charge”).
You can cancel your EE contract by calling 150 or submitting your request online.
On giffgaff, there are no early termination fees as you’re not tied in to any contracts (you can simply change your goodybag or cancel it at any time). Any credit that you’ve added to your account is non-refundable so you should use it up before leaving 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 if you don’t continue using your giffgaff SIM card. This is because the handset repayment plan is provided by RateSetter as opposed to giffgaff – read our full review of the giffgaff phone store for more information.
On iD Mobile, there’s a 14-day returns period for in-store purchases at the Carphone Warehouse and a 30-day returns period for online purchases from iD Mobile.
If you’d like to cancel your iD Mobile plan outside of the cooling-off period, an early cancellation fee will apply. This is stated in clause 8.1 of the iD Mobile terms and conditions:
An estimated early cancellation fee is available in the iD Mobile account area.
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 your Airtime Plan.
If you’re on a non-O2 Refresh contract (which will probably be the case if you joined O2 through a third-party retailer like the Carphone Warehouse), you’ll need to pay an early termination charge which is 83.3% of the remaining monthly payments over your minimum initial term. This is because O2 removes VAT on the early termination charge.
The following example calculation is given on the O2 website:
Plusnet provides SIM-only plans on a 30-day rolling basis. You can therefore cancel your contract at any time by giving 30 days notice. You’ll need to pay the full monthly fee over this 30-day period.
On Sky Mobile, you’ll need to pay an early termination charge when cancelling your mobile contract 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 August 2019, the early termination fees on Sky Mobile are as follows:
You can reduce your early termination fees by changing to a different plan and removing optional extras. For instance, you could downgrade to a cheaper plan before requesting cancellation. For more information, see Sky’s webpage on changing your Mix.
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”.
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 20%. This is detailed on page 25 of Three’s Pay Monthly price guide:
The following example calculation is given by Three on their website:
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 44% of your monthly plan cost, multiplied by the number of months you have remaining on your contract.
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 quarterly basis. For this reason, it may change slightly from time-to-time.
On Vodafone, you’ll need to pay an early termination fee that is 81.7% of the remaining payments over the minimum term of your contract. This is based on Vodafone giving a 2% discount and not charging VAT on the early termination fee (e.g. £100 / 1.2 * 0.98 = £81.67).
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:
Alternatives to Cancelling Early
In general, it’s best to avoid cancelling your mobile phone contract early where possible. This is because you’ll essentially be paying off the remainder of your contract but you won’t be getting a service in return for it.
There are a number of different ways to side-step early termination fees. For instance, you could change your handset outside of your contract. Alternatively, if you’re struggling with poor coverage, there may be ways to improve the coverage without cancelling your contract.
Changing Your Mobile Phone
If you’d simply like to change your mobile phone, it’s possible to do this outside of your 24-month contract. This is a good option if you’d like to change your mobile phone outside of the normal contract cycle (e.g. if you’ve lost your old mobile phone, if your old one has stopped working or if you’d like an early upgrade).
To upgrade your mobile phone outside of your contract, look to buy an unlocked SIM-free handset. You can buy a SIM-free phone from various retailers like Amazon, Argos, the Carphone Warehouse and John Lewis.
Once you have a SIM-free device, you can simply place your existing SIM card inside it. This will allow you to use up the remainder of your contract so you aren’t paying a needless early termination fee. Once the minimum term of your contract ends, you can then switch to a lower-cost 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.
You’ll sometimes be able to use a feature like Wi-Fi Calling to improve the coverage you get indoors. Alternatively, some mobile networks are able to offer other apps and accessories for improving your indoor coverage.
In general, poor mobile coverage won’t allow you to cancel your contract early without paying a termination fee.
Leaving the UK
Unfortunately, very little can be done regarding early termination fees if you’re planning to leave the UK.
If you’re moving to another European country, it’s possible you’ll be able to use your existing UK contract there.
If you’re moving to a country outside of Europe, it may sometimes still be best to keep your mobile contract open. This will allow you to use your mobile phone when you return to the UK and you’ll be able to keep your existing 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 on your mobile contract.
Mobile phone contracts are a form of consumer credit, just like a loan from your bank or credit card company. If you think you might have difficulties paying your next 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 be able to offer you some alternative payment options. You can also consult the Citizens Advice Bureau and StepChange Debt for advice.
If you were to simply cancel your contract without paying the 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 will give you much better control over your mobile phone spending. 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 when you do this. Over the 30 day period, you’ll need to pay your normal monthly fee (also known as the Notice Period Charge). The Notice Period Charge will apply even when 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 no longer 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 now always recommend using the PAC Code or STAC Code cancellation process. This allows you to bypass 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.