How to Cancel or Switch Your Internet Service

Whether it’s because you’re moving to a new place or looking for a better deal, sometimes you have to just cancel your internet.

Canceling your service and switching to a new provider isn’t always easy—but don’t worry. We’ll walk you through the process to help you navigate early termination fees (ETFs), long phone calls with the customer retention department, and other challenges.

Ready? Let’s do this.

Step-by-step guide

Really quickly, here’s a step-by-step guide of what you have to do.

  1. Find a new plan so it’s ready to go once you cancel.
  2. Figure out how much you’ll pay in early termination fees.
  3. Call customer service to cancel your service.
  4. Consider negotiating for a better deal (if you decide not to cancel).
  5. Return the router and modem you rented from your provider, if applicable.
  6. Enjoy your new internet.

Find a new provider and plan

Before cutting off your service, make sure you have a new internet package in place. That way you won’t have to deal with any waits or delays between canceling your service and activating a new one. (If you don’t actually need new internet, feel free to skip this step.)

Shop around and pick out the internet provider and plan that fits best for you. Take a look at any deals and offers you can get, and use our speed test tool to make sure you’re getting enough speed. Then call your new provider and schedule a time for it to switch on your new service. Also schedule installation if necessary.

You can get a snapshot of service providers available in your area by typing in your zip code below:

Figure out your early termination fees

ProviderEarly termination feeNo-contract options?Internet plans
AT&TNone*YesView AT&T Plans
Xfinity$10 per mo. left on contractYesView Xfinity Plans
CenturyLinkNoneYesView CenturyLink Plans
SpectrumNoneYesView Spectrum Plans
Cox$10 per mo. left on contractYes (add’l $10 per month)View Cox Plans
RCNNoneYesView RCN Plans
EarthLinkUp to $200NoView EarthLink Plans
MediacomUp to $120 for 1 yr. contract or $240 for 2–3 yrs.YesView Mediacom Plans
SparklightNoneYesView Sparklight Plans
SuddenlinkFull billing cycle**YesView Suddenlink Plans
OptimumFull billing cycleYesView Optimum Plans
ProviderAT&T
Early termination feeNone*
No-contract options?Yes
Internet plansView AT&T Plans
ProviderXfinity
Early termination fee$10 per mo. left on contract
No-contract options?Yes
Internet plansView Xfinity Plans
ProviderCenturyLink
Early termination feeNone
No-contract options?Yes
Internet plansView CenturyLink Plans
ProviderSpectrum
Early termination feeNone
No-contract options?Yes
Internet plansView Spectrum Plans
ProviderCox
Early termination fee$10 per mo. left on contract
No-contract options?Yes (add’l $10 per month)
Internet plansView Cox Plans
ProviderRCN
Early termination feeNone
No-contract options?Yes
Internet plansView RCN Plans
ProviderEarthLink
Early termination feeUp to $200
No-contract options?No
Internet plansView EarthLink Plans
ProviderMediacom
Early termination feeUp to $120 for 1 yr. contract or $240 for 2–3 yrs.
No-contract options?Yes
Internet plansView Mediacom Plans
ProviderSparklight
Early termination feeNone
No-contract options?Yes
Internet plansView Sparklight Plans
ProviderSuddenlink
Early termination feeFull billing cycle**
No-contract options?Yes
Internet plansView Suddenlink Plans
ProviderOptimum
Early termination feeFull billing cycle
No-contract options?Yes
Internet plansView Optimum Plans

If your current plan has an annual contract, you may have to pay early termination fees (ETFs) to cancel it. Depending on the provider, ETFs cost $10–$15 for each month you have left on your contract.

Some providers have no-contract internet plans, which lets you switch internet providers without incurring any fees. Consider signing up for a no-contract plan when you switch to a new provider to stay free and clear of the dreaded ETFs.

Pro tip:

Worried about paying early termination fees? Ask your new provider if it can cover the cost for you. Providers like Spectrum are known to buy out old contracts when you sign up for certain plans or bundle deals.

Call customer service to cancel

You’ll have to call customer service to cancel your internet. That’s usually the only option to cancel your service from most internet service providers (ISPs)—it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to cancel it online. 

When you make the call, you’ll be redirected to an agent working at your ISP’s customer retention department. The agent will want to keep you signed up, so be prepared for the chance of being put on hold or having to slog through a long conversation. Be polite but firm about your desire to cancel. If necessary, come up with an excuse to ensure a clean exit. (For example, you can say you’re moving to a new city where the ISP’s service isn’t available.)

Consider negotiating if possible

The customer retention department usually has some leeway to upgrade your service or give you extra perks to keep you with your ISP. So if you want a lower price or a faster speed, consider negotiating for a better deal instead of canceling outright.

 

Bring details about prices from other providers and have an idea of how much you’re currently paying for your service. Depending on the internet provider, the customer retention agent may be able to do the following:

  • Offer a price match on your plan
  • Return your monthly bill to its original promotional price
  • Speed up your internet at a reduced cost
  • Give you premium channels as part of your cable TV package
  • Combine internet with mobile service at a special price

Can you cancel your service if you’re behind on your bill?

You can likely cancel your service even if you still owe money for late payments or unpaid bills, but you should make sure to pay off any unpaid debts or work out a payment plan before ending things with your ISP. Otherwise, the ISP will send any unpaid bills to a collections agency, which will negatively impact your credit score.

Internet providers have been flexible about late payments and unpaid bills in recent months as more Americans have been working and studying from home due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. If you’re having trouble covering your Wi-Fi payments, call customer service to see if they can help you work out a payment plan or other option.

For more information, take a look at our guide to internet service during COVID-19.

Remember—keep a cool head

There have been some horror stories about customer retention reps losing their temper or simply refusing to stop your service. That’s not cool, of course, but just stay calm and be nice when you’re on the phone. You could see this as a frustrating call—or you could see it as an opportunity to negotiate a better deal with your current ISP.

Pro tip:

Is your internet speed too slow? Our guide to Wi-Fi speed has plenty of tips on how to improve your internet’s performance.

Return your modem/router to your provider (if you rented it)

After canceling your service, pack up any equipment you have that you’ve rented from your old ISP—usually a modem, router, or “gateway” device that combines the two. Then put it in the mail and send it back to them. Double-check to see if your ISP will send you a return label or if you need to look up the mailing address. Also see if it can provide packaging and if you have to pay the shipping yourself.

Don’t forget this step: you can face a hefty fee if you don’t return the equipment.

Enjoy your new internet

And, finally, we’ve come to the most important step of all: bonding with your new internet connection. Once you’ve stopped service with your old ISP and successfully switched to a new internet provider, you’re now free to stream, game, tweet, and download to your heart’s content. Yay!

Type in your zip code to see if you can find internet providers in your area:

Author -

Peter Holslin has more than a decade of experience working as a writer and freelance journalist. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008 and went on to contribute to publications like Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on covering 5G, nerding out about frequency bands and virtual RAN, and producing reviews on emerging services like 5G home internet. He also writes about internet providers and packages, hotspots, VPNs, and Wi-Fi troubleshooting.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.

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