avoid AT&T early termination fee

How to Avoid AT&T Early Termination Fee

Are you searching how to avoid AT&T early termination fee ?

Do not worry. Keep reading to learn more!

Businesses like to keep their profits high by trying to minimize their losses. In that sense, it is quite clear why the service providers are after early termination fees or ETF in short.

To avoid AT&T early termination fee

  1. Call and talk directly to Support Staff
  2. Switch Carriers if you get ETF cover
  3. Buy Prepaid plans
  4. Cancel your connection within 30 Days period

As a service provider, they simply do not want their customers to go way or cancel the contract early before the completion.

But it is also quite evident that the termination fees are quite high and are thus making the customers unhappy in many ways. 

Therefore, most customers want to know what is the exact ETF and how to avoid it.

Why AT&T Charges Early Termination Fees (ETF)?

Service providers like AT&T provide service contracts on various devices and wireless connections at discounts.

When a Customer decides to leave the contract in between, this can lead to losses to the Company. 

The business will not be able to cover the cost spent on a customer. This is the reason why AT&T charges ETF.

However, but if noticed from the customer point of view it is a big and unnecessary expense. Usually, these termination charges are quite heavy and not feasible.

Customers usually would want to leave service for various reasons. But out of them all, the major one is unsatisfactory service.

So why should a customer pay a fee or penalty for leaving something that they didn’t like in the first place?

Is this a Penalty?

Before learning about how to avoid AT&T’s early termination fee, let’s first try to understand what is these fees all about. In simple words, the early termination fee is nothing but a penalty that you have to pay for canceling a device service contract by AT&T.

While buying a device, there will be a contract with a specific time limit. If you cancel the service before, then ETF is charged.

For this, a buyer needs to agree to the term of a service commitment of the wireless provider contract.

Service commitments are also something that helps a buyer in buying a device at a reasonably discounted price. Based on the device brought by the user, the company charges ETF.

Therefore it can be said that the extra charge is an excellent trick to stop the customers from walking out of the service contract.

Early Termination Charges by AT&T

The basic and current ETF charging rate by AT&T is often confusing for users. Let us know the exact fees charged by AT&T:



Data ServiceUSD 325 minus Total month charge*
SmartphoneUSD 325 minus Total month charge
Mobile HotspotUSD 150 minus Total month charge
Wireless InternetUSD 150 minus Total month charge
Basic PhoneUSD 150 minus Total month charge
Tablet & other DeviceUSD 150 minus Total month charge

* Total month charge = 10 dollars multiplied by the number of months completed in the service commitment.

AT&T Restocking Fee

One of the significant issues with the AT&T services that there is a restocking fee for each contract.

This restocking fee is basically for those sim cards that are present in the wearable and high-end devices. The restocking fee charged by the AT&T services is 35 dollars.

A period is given to the customer to decide the termination of AT&T service.

Till then, the customer is not bound to pay any charge. This no penalization and charged termination period is of 14 days.

ATF calculation Example

To give you a more clear idea of the charges let us explain with the help of an example. 


Let us assume you have entered a contract with AT&T for a wireless internet for two years. But due to some problems you cancel the contract after 8 months of use.

  • For the 08 months of use total monthly charges completed is 08x $ 4 which equals to $32.
  • So, the final ETF  that you will need to pay the company is

      $150 – $ 32(08 months x $4) =$ 118

Ways to Avoid AT&T Early Termination Fee

Now that is has become quite clear that AT&T’s early termination fees are quite substantial and unfeasible for the customers.

at&t termination fee waive off

There are some excellent reasons to avoid them and ways not to pay them. One of the significant ways to avoid this charge is canceling the contract and by getting a new wireless carrier at a subsidized price, which will be cheaper.

This can be due to the fact that according to the legal terms of AT&T; an increase in the cost of service can only be included with the government prices.

If government pricing is not increased then a customer can terminate and can evade paying ETF.

Let us discuss in details how you can avoid the ETF:

1. Call and talk directly

One of the most important things to pay attention to is the fact that you should call directly and talk to them, telling them to void the ETF.Please do not rely on chat support as they will not be able to help. Instead, call and reach the retention department to get the contract canceled.

Point it out to the manager that the ETF is a not as per the terms and conditions, and thus is not a mandate to be paid.

Some Helpful Tips

  • Bring out Legal Term. Try to bring out the legal term of the company and how they cannot ask for the fee which is not given in their terms and conditions.
  • No Backout. One of the biggest things is that you should not back out of the talk as they will try to convince you otherwise.
  • Keep your Intent. Keep at your condition and also do not mention anything about buying another contract with AT&T only. 
  • Other Service Carrier. Mention about planning to buy anther service provider’s contract, as it will help in convincing them in waiving off the ETF.

Note: Currently the AT&T service providers have mentioned that the legal term stated is not applicable. This is because the charges are now stated to be a part of the administrative fees. Therefore it can be more difficult for the customers to get a waiver. However one can also opt for an arbitration mode, where a third party can be brought into the scene to decide.

2. Switch Carriers

Another very effective way to avoid AT&T early termination fee is by changing the carrier.

One can find a much less expensive plan than AT&T and can also get a good quote form the service providers. One of the best ways is to opt for a trade-in plan. 

Important Facts for a trade-in Plan:

  • Many carriers these days are providing the option to trade-in the current AT&T phone and get a  new one.  
  • For this, the carrier provider tends to cover the termination charge up to a certain percentage.
  • Also keep the AT&T account active while trade-in, so that the number can be ported easily. The info and the number will be shifted easily from one carrier to another.

After the number is ported, get the previous plan canceled. After the cancellation, submit the AT&T ETF bill to the new carrier. This way the new carrier will pay some of the ETF or even full in some cases.

3. Buy Prepaid Plans

Also, another very significant way to avoid this extra charge is by choosing a prepaid plan provider instead of a postpaid contract.

These plans are plenty in the market, and you will not have to pay any ETF on cancellation.

One thing that usually concerns customers is the fact that one may have to pay more for better services in these plans.

But if one compares the overall cost to a postpaid contract and ETF, it is quite better and feasible.

Can you Waive off Early Termination Fee

Many users of the company have the doubt whether they can waive off AT&T Early termination fees. 

30 Days Period

If you have terminated the connection within the 30 days period you can get the fees waived off.  But to make sure it is waived off, check the terms of contract that you agreed on taking the new connection.

No Service

Also when you want to shift your connection to a new address;  but there the service is not available, you can ask AT&T for fees waiver.

But in both cases, the fee waiver is subject to the agreement made at the  time of contract. 

If you are unsure about the terms, you can contact customer support for immediate solution.


Finding a good service provider has become quite difficult of late, and on top of that, the charges are now much higher comparatively.

But paying a termination fee is quite a hassle for the customers, which needs to be avoided.

Though AT&T has now canceled on the ETF on the new plans, the ones stuck in the older ones still needs to pay.

These few ways on how to avoid AT&T early termination fee, can come handy for them who still have a 2-year plan going and would want to cancel it. 

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