Wanna Switch Carriers? Avoid Paying Your Early Termination Fee [How To]



So now that Verizon has announced that they’re selling shiny new iPhone 4’s you’re chomping at the bit to get off of AT&T or T-Mobile and join the ranks of Big Red right? Of course one of the biggest draw backs to doing this is that your Early Termination Fee could cost as much as $325. While it’s not the easiest thing to do, there are multiple ways to get out of having to pay the ETF, and we’re going to show you a couple of ways to avoid the fees.

Transfer Contract –  Probably the easiest way to get out of your contract without having to pay the ETF is by transferring your current contract to someone else’s name. If you have a friend or family member looking to get a new line then swapping with someone you know would be the easiest way and it only takes about 20 minutes to get everything switched over if you go to the AT&T Store together.

Another option if you want to transfer your contract is to use a website that facilitates contract swaps. TradeMyCellular.com, CellTradeUSA.com, and CellSwapper.com, work in the same fashion as “online dating” services, matching current contract holders with people who would like to take over others’ contracts. These sites aren’t free, but they’ll cost you a lot less that $325.

Tell the Carrier You’re Moving Out of Coverage Area – With AT&T this is a little bit more difficult because they have a bazillion International Roaming Partners. In fact, when it comes to Global Coverage, AT&T is definitely better than Verizon. But if you are moving to a location outside of coverage area you can send AT&T a copy of your drivers license or a recent bill and they’re pretty good about allowing you to cancel your contract without having to pay your ETF.

When I cancelled my T-Mobile contract back when the first iPhone came out I informed them that I was moving to Kiangan in the Ifugao Province of the Philippines (a remote mountain town way out in the middle of nowhere). All I had to do was fax over my driver’s license and the $200 ETF was waived. It was surprisingly easy.

Complain About the Service – When you signed your contract AT&T promised to provide reasonable phone service, and you promised to pay a pre-arranged sum for that service. If AT&T is unable to provide reasonable service then you have grounds to have your contract voided and the ETF waived. Being an iPhone 4 user on AT&T, it’s not a stretch to say that you drop calls all the time, or that you get really weak signal at your house. In order to get your ETF waived due to unsatisfactory service you may have to complain to AT&T, but it’s legitimate grounds for cancelation. Don’t expect AT&T to allow you to cancel your contract the first time that you call in though, especially now that Verizon has the iPhone and AT&T is going to fight to keep all their customers happy (hopefully?). Perhaps you’re one of the 3% of Americans that AT&T doesn’t cover. If so then you can get out of your contract.

Terms of Contract Changed – This route is a little bit more difficult to argue, and will take a bit of time on the phone. When you signed your original contract with AT&T you both agreed to specific terms, and if at any point those terms were changed by AT&T you are within your right to have your contract cancelled without paying an ETF. Carriers from time to time will make small changes to their customer’s contracts but we the consumers rarely notice them because they’re usually in really small print at the bottom of the bill, or if you have wireless billing with AT&T they don’t even send you the entire bill and you will need to go online to view the full bill. If AT&T has changed the pricing during any point that you have had a contract with them then you can have your contract cancelled. Going through your bills you may notice that they’ve changed the fees for going over your minutes, texting or data. Any small change can be argued as a change in the terms of the contract and therefore are grounds of cancellation.

Having worked for AT&T (although I worked for U-Verse and not AT&T Wireless), I can tell you that there is always someone who can get you what you want. Representatives will repeatedly tell you false information or that they’re not allowed to do something or that the computer won’t allow them to make those changes for you. They’re not necessarily lying, they just don’t know all the truth. The key to dealing with AT&T Customer Service is to stand your ground and not let the people on the phone push you around. If one rep isn’t able to help you, then don’t be a total flaming imbecile, but be firm in insisting you get to speak with someone higher up. Your ETF can be waived, you just have to have the patience in finding the right person to help you. Keep in mind that the longer you’ve been a customer with AT&T the more leverage you have with them.

  • TJ

    I want to gift a iphone 4 to one of my friend, thus is it possible that i add one line to my existing plan and then breach the contract without paying extra amount for that iphone 4?

  • Gabriela

    Is the early termination fee for AT&T and Tmobile when moving out of the country still able to waved? Because I’ve read so many recent articles about it and they say that they changed the policy for verizon, AT&T and Tmobile, and you are not able to wave the fee if moving out of the coverage area.

  • JCB

    All sounds good, but we’ve spent over 9 hours on the phone with AT&T and asked for supervisor after supervisor and no one, absolutely no one, will help to cancel the contract.  We even have the issue, and it is true, that the service doesn’t work in our area and the new phone are not working.  They drop calls, won’t receive calls when at home and won’t send or receive text messages.  This is after the phone has been replaced. All of this explained to them over nine hours and they will not cancel the contract without the fees.  I believe AT&T has gotten a lot tougher since Verizon’s phones actual work and their service works and they are absolutely not allowing any waived fees.  They are going down and they must realize it.  The service people that want to help try to direct to someone higher up, but the higher ups are rude and will not help.  In some cases, they won’t give their name or let you talk to anyone higher.  That is completely unacceptable. 

  • miller234

    I tried tonight with verizon and had no success.  they state that their legal department had told them to follow this protocol.  I was trying to get out of my contract because they upped my regulatory fee.  this technically changes the contract, but they refused to listen.  Here’s the contract verbage:
    Our Right To Make Changes

    Your service is subject to our business policies, practices, and
    procedures, which we can change without notice. UNLESS OTHERWISE

    Technically if the increase “materially adverse” you , then you can end the affected service without any early termination fees.   They absolutely refuse to listen that their company changed the terms of the contract, thus making the contract void.   

    any suggestions would be helpful

  • Destinie

    I’m going thru the exact same thing with them. We moved & have absolutely no reception and AT&T refuses to waive the ETF. We have had 3 lines of service with them for about 10 yrs now and service has been good until now. I have already wasted 2 hrs on the phone with them. They claim I should have service in my area & are trying to sell me a microcell for 99.99 to get better reception in my home. What a JOKE!!! They refuse to let me speak to supervisor. I don’t know what to do from here. Any suggestions??

  • Arva Larva

    Great piece and I love the spot in the Philippines you chose. I’ve had luck with the argument that the coverage in my house is yucky, but I’ve had to call several times until I found a nice person, who I then showered with praise in a letter. Not sure how advantageous to me that was, since I was dissing the company, but hey. Well, here I go again trying to get to Verizon without a kick in the groin!

  • Guest

    I’ve tried calling Rogers, to tell them I was moving out of the coverage area, but they said they had to have the exact address I was moving to, in order to cancel without the cancellation fee.

  • Guest

    So, I found the address to where I was moving, and Rogers said that I would still have to pay the $400 cancellation fee…The guy was such a dick too. I hate Rogers.

  • Harkunwar Singh Kochar

    i live in india and planning to go to usa for a week can i do this trick

  • randa

    I HATE AT&T and I’m a retiree of the flippin company. They treat us like they do you. We get nothing for the over 30 years service we have put in and the abuse we took because our customers were upset with the way management ran the business. It isn’t the employees fault, but the fault of ALL the upper management pieces of crap beginning with Randall Stephenson. Worst CEO ever.  As soon as my contract is up with them on my phone I’m moving on to another carrier. Randall Stephenson needs to be booted.

  • Sneezerdoc

    That would be unethical

  • Erideree

    AT&T coverage sucks, Sprint is ok at best look out for non company owned stores, and Verizon has terrible customer service. they are all corporate giants who don’t care for the individual anymore an international boycott should be enacted!  I have not had T-mobile but since I do not live in or near a large city I have heard they aren’t too good either. I have made the switch to Straight Talk from Wal-Mart  I grant you they too are a corporate giant, and the customer service (in store/about phone issues) might not be too hot but at least the service is good phones don’t cost too much to replace, and lots of phones are offered if you purchase online, in store selection is so so but hey you get all the goodies of a phone for 45 bucks a month (unlimited talk, text, net, voicemail, and other features as well). Best of all NO CONTRACT if you let the time expire or cancel it no worries it doesn’t cost you a dime! GOOD RIDDANCE CONTRACT FINALLY PHONE FREEDOM THAT DON’T BREAK THE BANK!

  • fuckpowerhungrycorporations

    check out republic wireless… I don’t know much about it, but it seems like a much better deal even if I have to use wifi for 50% of the calls

    Unlimited txt, data and talk on wifi and sprints network (“hybrid” calling) and no contract + $200 initially for an android based phone.  Works for me.

  • Stephen Baker

    No lol

  • ATTUser

    My phone was stolen, and I tried to call them and ask them to cancel my contract and they refused it with ETF. I am already in a shock of loosing and baring the price of the stolen phone. As a result I have decided to stay without a phone all together n they refuse to cancel me out.! Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

  • rusty shackleford

     “verbage” is not a word, douche.

  • Expert

    No matter where you are in America, Get coverage for your termination fee when you switch to T-Mobile, call 309-585-5815 (T-Mobile Business Sales)