How to Cancel 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.
Really quickly, here’s a step-by-step guide of what you have to do.
- Look over your contract. Figure out if there are any early termination fees you need to pay.
- Shop for new internet. It’s best to have your new internet plan lined up before you cancel your old one to avoid unnecessary inconveniences.
- Call customer service. Get a rep on the phone to cancel your service. (Unfortunately, the majority of internet providers don’t let you cancel online.)
- Consider negotiating. If you’re canceling due to high prices or lackluster speeds, you can haggle with your provider’s customer retention rep to get a better deal.
- Return the router and modem. Make sure to return any equipment you’ve rented to avoid expensive fees.
- Enjoy your new internet. The most important step of all!
Look over your contract and figure out if you have early termination fees
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.
Early termination fees from major internet providers
|Provider||Early termination fee||No-contract options?||Order online|
|$10 per mo. left on contract month||Yes (+ $10 per month)|
|$15/mo. (max $350)||Yes|
|$25/mo., max $300 (for construction fee only)||Yes|
|$10 per mo. left on contract||Yes (add’l $10 per month)|
|Up to $200||No|
|Up to $120 for 1 yr. contract or $240 for 2–3 yrs.||Yes|
|Full billing cycle||Yes|
|None||Yes||See T-Mobile Home Internet|
Data as of 6/28/23. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
AT&T’s internet plans run month to month. But AT&T TV requires a two-year contract. The ETF is $15 for each month you have left on the contract, totaling to a potential maximum of $360.
With Optimum, you don’t have to pay early termination fees. However, you will be charged for the full billing cycle no matter when you cancel your service. So if you cancel your account on the first of the month, you will pay for the entire month.
Google Fiber’s early termination fee applies only to customers who have to pay a $300 construction fee to properly set up fiber internet when they sign up. If you cancel your service before 12 months, you’ll need to pay $25 for each month left on your bill. But you won’t need to worry about these fees if you don’t have a construction fee.
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.
Shop for new internet service
Before cutting off your service entirely, 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.
Is your internet speed too slow? Take a speed test to see what bandwidth you have. It could be time for an upgrade with a faster plan or better provider.
Call customer service to cancel
You 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 to get put on hold or to slog through a long conversation.
Pro tip: Keep your cool while canceling
As you talk with customer service on the phone, 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.
Canceling your service goes a lot quicker when the retention agent knows you don’t have the option to move your internet plan to a new location.
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.
Return your rented equipment
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!
Author - Peter Holslin
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.