3 Ways to Escape a Cellphone Contract

What's Hot


2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

14 Ways to Maximize Your Social Security ChecksGrow

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

8 Ways to Take Control of Your Finances — and Be HappierGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

7 Free Sources of Manufacturer Coupons You Can Find OnlineSave

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

Fixing Your Credit? Do These 5 Things, Avoid These 3Credit & Debt

You don't always have to spend hundreds of dollars to break a phone contract.

Scary early-termination fees help keep cellphone customers locked into multiyear contracts. AT&T’s top fee is $325; Verizon’s and Sprint’s are each $350.

The fees usually drop based on how far along you are in the contract, and they supposedly help keep the carriers from losing money on the fancy phones you purchase at less than retail price. (That’s how they justify the fees to the Federal Communications Commission.) Of course, many consumers want to upgrade to newer technology within a couple of years, and the carriers encourage it with more discounts that lock in new contracts.

It’s a vicious cycle, but one The Wall Street Journal says you might be able to break — without breaking the bank in the process. Avoiding contracts in the first place is one cheaper option, but here’s what you can do if you’re already stuck in one:

  • Transfer your contract. All major carriers allow it, the WSJ says, and there are matchmaking websites to help. CellTradeUSA.com charges nothing to post an ad but does charge $20 to see responses from interested parties. CellSwapper.com charges up front instead, from $3 to $11 to post an ad.
  • Make a move. While there are probably very few people desperate enough to relocate just to escape a phone contract, if you’re moving anyway it could be an opportunity. One woman who moved from Massachusetts to Vermont was able to leave a contract for four family plan lines because her carrier had no towers there. Military members who relocate for 90 days to an area without service are allowed to terminate their plans without penalty, too.
  • Report bad service. The WSJ says that “few customers likely get free passes from early-termination fees because of service issues,” but it’s worth a shot if you have serious problems with coverage. The carrier will likely want to try a phone software upgrade and other troubleshooting steps first, but at least this one costs nothing to try.

Have any other successful tactics for dropping a contract? Let us know on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: 5 Easy Ways to Save on Your Cell Phone Bill

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,990 more deals!