It has been the practice of cell phone companies until the recent influx of prepaid plans to offer cell phone service exclusively through long term contracts generally lasting one or two years. In exchange for highly-subsidized, and often free phones, you are locked in to a cell phone service contract for at least a year and if you ever decide to leave, you are charged an early termination fee, often between $150 and $200. Those with below-stellar credit may also be able to get on a contract but are often charged a deposit equivalent to the early termination fee, which they lose if they ever decide to terminate their mobile phone contracts. So the question becomes, is it even possible and what is the best way of terminating mobile phone contracts?
Talk to your Carrier
Cell phone customers who are looking for how to get out of mobile phone contracts should first talk to their carriers, especially if they’re experiencing some kind of financial difficulty such as a job loss. If you are in this kind of situation, the first thing to do is to call your carrier and ask what their hardship policy is. They may be able to downgrade your plan, remove some extra features or give you a more flexible payment plan.
Another situation in which you will definitely want to talk to your carrier is if your carrier makes a change in your contract, even if it is a slight one like charging 5 cents more for text messages, for example. Making a change in the contract under contract law, voids the original contract, except of course if you consent to it. The way to show your consent is by using your phone. So make sure you always read the fine print on your bill and if there is a change, that is your chance to terminate your contract. But make sure you don’t use your cell phone until you make the call to your carrier and remember to use a phone other than your cell phone.
Transfer your Contract
If you have tried all the options above and your carrier is not able to work with you to either let you get out of your contract or you have run out of hardship options, you may be able to terminate your cell phone contract by transferring it to another person. There are companies that specialize in doing this and will charge you only a fraction of the termination fee charged by your carrier. The two leading companies are CellTradeUSA.com and CellSwapper.com.
CellTradeUSA allows get-in customers (those looking to take over a cell phone contract) and get-out customers (those looking to terminate their contracts) to register for free on celltradeusa.com. Those with mutual interests can contact each other and when both parties are satisfied the transfer process can start. Get-out customers pay $19.99 to terminate their contract and get-in customers pay nothing. The cell phone carriers are happy to play along.
CellSwapper.com offers a similar service but charges only $14.99 from swap-out customers who want to get out of their cell phone contracts. Swap-in customers can search through the various plan offers on the website and pay nothing to take over a contract.
These are your main options on how to get out of mobile phone contracts. If anyone has another suggestion please post a comment.