How to cancel broadband without paying early termination fees

When cancelling your broadband package, you might be faced with early termination fees. But what are they and how can you avoid them?

Disclaimer: The information on this page was last updated on 09/01/2023, 13:57:34

With so many different broadband deals on the market, it’s tempting to switch regularly. But what happens if you try to switch before your contract is up? You could be subject to an extra charge called an ‘early termination fee’.

What are early termination fees?

All major broadband providers charge customers a fee if they want to leave before the end of their minimum term contract. These fees are called ‘early termination fees’. You might also see them written as ‘exit fees’ or ‘early cancellation fees’.

How your early termination fees are worked out and how much you have to pay depends on your broadband provider and tariff, as well as any extra products you might have taken out.

You should be able to find how your provider’s early termination fees are calculated in your contract or on their website.

Why do I have to pay to cancel my broadband package?

When you switch to a new broadband package, you will have signed up to a minimum term contract. This means that you have agreed to stay with your provider for that length of time.

However, if you decide to leave before the end of your minimum term, your provider will be losing profit as they lose a customer. Because of this, they charge an extra fee to make up for it.

How much do providers charge if you leave early?

How much your provider will charge for your early termination fees depends on a number of different variables, including:

  • How much you pay per month
  • How many services you have with your provider (broadband, TV, phone line etc)
  • Which tariff you’re on
  • How long is left on your contract

Below, we’ve broken down how some of the biggest broadband providers calculate their early termination fees.

Sky cancellation fees

To work out your cancellation fees, Sky will take your monthly payments and deduct:

  • 20% VAT
  • The costs they’re saving by you leaving early
  • A discount for a lump sum payment

This is then rounded to the nearest 25p.

For example, if you pay £30 per month with 3 months left on your contract, Sky will start by taking off VAT, business costs, and early payment discount, bringing it down to £16.39. This will be multiplied by 3 (the amount of time left on your contract) to give you a cancellation fee of £49.17. Rounding this up to the nearest 25p gives you a final cancellation fee of £49.25.

BT cancellation fees

BT works out your early termination fee by taking the remaining amount you would have paid if you’d stayed on your contract and deducting:

  • VAT
  • The costs saved by you leaving early
  • A 1% discount if your final payment is made early

VAT is then added on again at the end.

For example, if you pay £35 per month and have 4 months left on your contract, you would have £140 left to pay on your contract (£35 x 4). The VAT will be taken off, bringing it down to £116.67. Next, BT’s costs are taken off. Assuming this is £15 per month it would take off £60 (15 x 4), leaving £56.67. As you’re paying your bill early, you’ll receive a 1% discount (50p) and VAT will be added back on to leave you with a final early termination fee of £67.32.

Virgin Media cancellation fees

To work out your early termination fees, Virgin Media will take into account:

  • How much you pay per month
  • How long is left on your contract
  • How much they will save by you leaving early

For example, if you pay £30 per month, have 5 months left on your contract, and Virgin Media are saving £5 per month from you leaving, this will be calculated as (£30-£5) x 4 months (your 30 day notice period isn’t included in your exit fees), bringing your early disconnection fees to £100.

Virgin Media has made it a lot simpler for customers to work out their cancellation fees, as they’ve put together a table of how much you can expect to pay depending on your package.

How much will you pay?

TalkTalk cancellation fees

TalkTalk has a set fee per month that you can expect to pay when you cancel your broadband early (depending on your package). They’ve laid all of this out on their website, however, the table below shows how much you should expect to pay for every month left on your contract.

Broadband package Termination fee per month left
Fast Broadband £10.80
Fibre broadband £10.20
Ultra fibre-optic broadband £19.20

For example, if you’re on a Fibre 35 package and have 5 months left on your contract, your early termination fee will be £10.20 x 5 = £51.

When you can cancel your broadband package for free

While you often have to pay early termination fees if you want to cancel your broadband, there are times where you can avoid the fees.

If any of the below applies, you should be able to cancel your broadband package for free.

After the end of your contract

If you’re outside the minimum term of your current broadband contract, you’re free to leave, change, or cancel your broadband service whenever you like with no penalties.

Broadband minimum contracts are usually 12, 18, or 24 months. If you’re not sure when your contract ends, you should be able to find out through your account or by contacting your provider.

Once you reach the end of your minimum term, it’s recommended that you start looking into switching your broadband package, whether that’s to a new provider or just a different tariff. You can usually make great savings and sometimes an improved service.

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020 3048 4598

Within your cooling-off period

When you switch broadband packages, you have a 14-day ‘cooling-off period’.

Within the first 14 days of signing up, you can leave or cancel your service with no penalties. However, if your service has already gone live in that time, you’ll still have to pay for what you’ve used.

While 14 days is the legally required minimum, some providers offer a longer cooling-off period, so if you’ve changed your mind about switching, check the terms of your contract to see if you can take advantage of this.

If your broadband is too slow

With your broadband quote, you should have been given a minimum upload and download speed for your home. If your broadband service isn’t meeting these speeds, you might be able to cancel with no early termination fees.

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Some providers have signed up to the Ofcom broadband speed code of practice, which states that they must deliver the speed promised or customers can cancel for free. This code of practice is voluntary, so is something to look out for when comparing providers and tariffs. Providers who have signed up so far include:

If you have a fault that has been going on for a while and your provider can’t or hasn’t resolved it, Ofcom states that they have to let you cancel and switch to another provider with no early termination charges.

If you’re moving house

If you’re moving home in the middle of your contract, you’ll have to bring your current broadband package with you to your new home or you could face cancellation fees.

However, if your provider can’t connect your new house or deliver the same speeds as they did at your old house, you might be able to cancel your package or switch to a new provider for no extra charge.

Each provider has different policies surrounding moving house. Some might still charge even if they can’t connect your new home to the internet at all. Make sure you check your contract for these policies if you’re planning on moving in the near future.

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If your provider raises its prices

If you have a fixed broadband contract that was taken out after 23rd January 2014, you can leave mid-contract if your prices increase.

Your provider will give you 30 days’ notice of the price changes, giving you 30 days to cancel without paying any early cancellation fees.

Unfortunately, many providers have it written into their contracts that they can increase their prices in line with inflation. This means that, even if your prices increase, you might not be able to switch for free as you already agreed that they could raise the price. However, your right to cancel for free remains if they increase prices higher than it states in your contract.

If you’re on a rolling contract

Some broadband providers offer 30-day rolling contracts. These are often known as ‘no-contract’ broadband packages.

This works similarly to cancelling outside of your minimum term contract as there is no minimum term on these kinds of packages. They simply renew every 30 days.

Not all providers offer these contracts, however, you can find them from:

How to cancel your broadband package

Most of the time, cancelling and switching broadband packages is an easy process.

All you have to do is to choose your new package or provider and start the switching process. Your new provider and current provider will work together to cancel your account and move your broadband service over to your new provider.

If you’re currently with Virgin Media, you’ll have to contact them at least 30 days before you want to leave as it operates its own network of cables that aren’t shared with other providers.

To cancel your Virgin Media broadband service, you should call 0345 454 1111. To make sure you’re not without service, you should give them the ‘go live’ date that your new provider has promised.

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