Can I cancel my broadband contract early?

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If you’re looking to improve your finances, cut back on spending or benefit from better deals, cancelling your broadband contract might be an option. Cancelling your broadband contract isn’t always a straightforward process, but this guide will help you do it without the stress.

Can your broadband contract affect your credit score?

Household bills like broadband, phone contracts and TV usually appear on credit reports. So if you miss payments, it could be noted on your credit report for at least six years, lower your credit score and impact your ability to get credit in the future.

If you find yourself in this situation, you may be considering early broadband cancellation to lower your outgoings, switch to a better deal and reduce your chance of missing payments.

Most broadband providers, including TalkTalk, Sky, BT and Virgin Media, will conduct a credit check when you apply, which can impact your credit score. 

However, some providers, including Plusnet and Now Broadband, don’t carry out credit checks. So even if you have a low credit score, changing broadband provider in favour of another is unlikely to leave you without WiFi.

Can you cancel a broadband contract early?

In most cases, you’ll be able to leave your broadband contract early, but you may have to pay an early exit or cancellation fee. The amount you pay will depend on your broadband provider and you’ll usually need to pay off the remaining months of your contract.

You may also need to pay for any equipment, like your router, if you don’t have the option to return it. However, if you can save more money by switching or cancelling than you would by continuing with your current contract, it may still be worth it.

How to get out of a broadband contract

In some circumstances, you may be able to leave or switch broadband contracts before they end without paying an early exit fee. 

You’re in the cooling-off period

A cooling-off period is a set amount of time given in your broadband contract that allows customers to change their mind. This is usually 14 days, although for Sky broadband, it’s 31 days. During this time, you can cancel without paying an extra fee. 

That is unless you’ve used the service by connecting to your WiFi and surfing the internet. This could mean you’d be subject to a charge. As Citizens Advice notes, you’re only entitled to cancel within your cooling-off period if you brought your contract online or on the phone. If you signed up in person, you don’t have the same legal rights and will usually be subject to a charge.

Your contract has expired

When you sign up for a broadband contract, you’ll usually be committing to a period of 12, 18 or 24 months. If you want to leave your contract after this minimum term has finished, you should be free to leave without paying any additional charges. What’s more, you’ll usually be able to get a better deal if you switch contracts after your minimum period has ended. 

However, it’s always best to check the fine print, as some companies will put you on a rolling contract following the end of your minimum term, with some then requiring up to 30 days' notice of cancellation.

According to Ofcom rules, broadband providers must write to you to let you know when your contract is ending. They should also tell you how much you could save with a new deal, a rule which has led to 1.3 million broadband users saving money.

The price has gone up - and you haven’t been informed

Under Ofcom rules, your broadband supplier must warn you in writing if your rates are changing with at least 30 days notice. Within that 30 days you have a legal right to cancel without having to pay an additional fee.

You won’t be able to cancel without an additional fee if either of the following apply to your circumstance:

  • You signed up for your broadband contract before 23rd January 2014

  • You were informed at the start of your contract that your price would be going up after a specific period of time

Your internet speeds are slow

Your broadband provider should give you a minimum broadband speed when you sign up for your contract. If they fall below this and they’re signed up to Ofcom’s Code of Practice on broadband speed, they must fix the issue within one month.

If they’re unable to do so, then you’re entitled to cancel your broadband contract without paying early termination fees.

How long before a broadband contract ends can I switch?

How long you have to wait before you can switch depends on your provider. The cancellation fee you must pay also varies between companies. Here’s the current state of play for the major broadband providers.

How to cancel Sky broadband 

You must give 14 days' notice to cancel your Sky broadband contract. The amount you need to pay will depend on: 

  • Cancellation period notice

  • Any early termination charges

  • Final bill amount

  • Returning equipment

How to cancel BT broadband

If you want to leave your BT contract early, you must give 30 days’ notice to their customer service team and you’ll have to pay a charge for every month you still have left on your contract. They will, however, deduct any costs they will save from you leaving early, such as payments to suppliers. Plus, they’ll give you 1% off if they receive your final payment early.

How to cancel Virgin Media broadband

You can cancel your Virgin Media broadband over the phone, via online chat or through the post. The amount you’ll have to pay for leaving Virgin Media early depends on what package you have with them, and whether you have any other products.

How to cancel Vodafone broadband

Cancelling your Vodaphone broadband can be done over the phone or via online chat. Vodafone, similar to Sky, will charge you for the remaining days left on your contract, minus any savings they make as a result of you leaving early and a 1% deduction if you pay in full.

Do I need to cancel my broadband before switching?

If you’re switching from a company that runs on the Openreach phone network, and your new provider is also on this network, then you can simply use a ‘one-stop’ switching process. Early cancellation fees will apply if you're still within your contractual term. Providers that run on the Openreach network include BT, EE, Sky, Vodafone and TalkTalk.  

In this instance, you don’t need to get in touch with your current provider to cancel, as your new provider will arrange the transfer for you. Once the process is underway, both your current and new providers will write to you to confirm the switch.

If your provider isn’t on this network, then you will have to cancel your current broadband contract before you switch. 

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