Does At&T Pay Early Termination Fees?

Terminating a cell phone contract early often comes with a hefty penalty known as an early termination fee. If you find yourself wanting to switch carriers before your AT&T contract is up, you may be wondering if the company will pay your ETF for you.

Here’s a quick answer: In most cases, AT&T will not pay your early termination fee. You will be responsible for covering the cost yourself if you cancel service before your contract expires.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide an in-depth look at AT&T’s early termination fee policy. We’ll cover how much you can expect to pay if you cancel early, whether AT&T ever waives the fee, tips for avoiding the penalty, and alternatives if you can’t afford the ETF.

What Is AT&T’s Early Termination Fee?

AT&T, one of the leading telecommunications companies in the United States, does have an Early Termination Fee (ETF) policy in place for customers who wish to cancel their service before the end of their contract term.

The ETF is a fee charged to customers to compensate for the remaining months of service that were agreed upon in the contract.

The ETF Amount

The amount of the Early Termination Fee varies depending on the type of service and the remaining months on the contract. AT&T calculates the ETF by multiplying the number of months left in the contract by a predetermined monthly rate.

For example, if a customer has 6 months left on their contract and the monthly rate is $20, the ETF would be $120.

It’s important to note that the ETF amount decreases over time as the contract progresses. This means that the closer a customer is to the end of their contract, the lower the ETF will be. AT&T provides customers with a breakdown of the ETF amount on their final bill, so they can see exactly how it was calculated.

When the ETF Applies

The Early Termination Fee applies when customers cancel their service before the end of their contract term. This can happen for various reasons, such as switching to another provider or no longer needing the service. However, there are some cases where AT&T may waive the ETF.

For example, if a customer moves to an area where AT&T doesn’t provide service, they may be able to cancel without incurring the fee.

It’s always a good idea to carefully read the terms and conditions of the contract before signing up with AT&T or any other service provider. This way, customers can have a clear understanding of the Early Termination Fee policy and any other potential charges that may apply. AT&T provides detailed information about their ETF policy on their official website, which can be found here.Overall, while AT&T does have an Early Termination Fee, it’s important for customers to weigh the potential cost against their specific needs and circumstances. If a customer anticipates needing to cancel their service before the end of the contract, they may want to consider other options or discuss alternative arrangements with AT&T to minimize any potential fees.

Will AT&T Ever Waive the ETF?

Early Termination Fees (ETFs) are a common concern for customers who are considering switching their wireless carrier. AT&T, like many other providers, does have an ETF policy in place. However, there are certain situations where AT&T may be willing to waive these fees, providing some relief for customers facing contract cancellation.

Waivers for Military Service Members

AT&T recognizes and values the service of military personnel and offers special benefits to active-duty members. In accordance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), AT&T may waive early termination fees for military service members who are required to relocate due to their military orders.

This waiver is applicable to both wireless and internet services, ensuring that military families can stay connected no matter where they are stationed.

It’s important for military service members to provide proper documentation, such as their military orders, to AT&T when requesting a waiver for ETFs. Additionally, it’s recommended to contact AT&T’s customer service or visit their website for more information on the specific requirements and process for requesting the waiver.

Exceptions for Business Accounts

AT&T also understands the unique needs of businesses and offers flexibility when it comes to early termination fees. Business accounts may be eligible for ETF waivers under certain circumstances, such as when a business relocates or experiences financial hardship.

These exceptions are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and it’s important for business account holders to reach out to AT&T’s business customer service for more information and assistance.

AT&T’s commitment to customer satisfaction extends to their business clientele, and they strive to find solutions that best meet the needs of businesses. By working closely with AT&T’s business support team, business owners can explore options for ETF waivers and other beneficial arrangements.

It’s important to note that while AT&T may consider waiving ETFs in specific situations, not all requests may be granted. Each case is evaluated individually, and factors such as contract duration, payment history, and account status may influence the decision.

Therefore, it’s recommended to contact AT&T directly to discuss your specific circumstances and explore the available options.

How to Get Out of Your AT&T Contract Without Paying the ETF

Breaking a contract with a service provider can often come with hefty fees, and AT&T is no exception. However, there are a few strategies you can employ to minimize or even avoid early termination fees (ETFs) when it comes to your AT&T contract.

Here are three ways to get out of your AT&T contract without paying the ETF:

1. Wait Until Your Contract Expires

The simplest way to avoid paying an ETF is to wait until your contract with AT&T expires. Most AT&T contracts last for a period of two years, and once this term is up, you are free to switch to a different provider without any financial penalties.

While waiting may require some patience, it can save you a significant amount of money in the long run.

2. Pay Off the Remaining Monthly Installments

If you are on a contract with AT&T that includes device installment payments, you may be able to avoid the ETF by paying off the remaining balance on your device. By doing so, you fulfill your contractual obligation and can switch to a new provider without incurring any additional fees.

Keep in mind that paying off the remaining balance may be more cost-effective than paying the ETF, especially if you are nearing the end of your contract term.

3. Sell Your Contract

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to break your AT&T contract before it expires, you may consider selling your contract to someone else. There are online platforms and forums where individuals are willing to take over existing contracts.

By transferring your contract to another person, you can avoid paying the ETF and potentially even recoup some of the costs associated with your contract. However, it is important to thoroughly research and verify the legitimacy of any potential buyers before proceeding with a contract transfer.

Remember, before making any decisions, it is always wise to carefully review your AT&T contract terms and conditions. Additionally, reaching out to AT&T customer service to discuss your situation and explore any possible alternatives or options they may have available can also be beneficial.

What If You Can’t Afford to Pay the ETF?

If you find yourself unable to afford the Early Termination Fee (ETF) charged by AT&T, there are a few options you can explore to alleviate the financial burden. Here are some possible solutions:

Request a Goodwill Credit

One option is to reach out to AT&T and explain your situation. They may be willing to make an exception and offer you a goodwill credit, which could reduce or eliminate the ETF. It’s worth contacting their customer service and explaining your circumstances in a polite and respectful manner.

While there are no guarantees, AT&T has been known to provide goodwill credits in certain cases.

Extend Your Contract

If paying the ETF upfront is not feasible for you, another alternative is to extend your contract with AT&T. By agreeing to extend your contract, you may be able to spread out the cost of the ETF over a longer period of time, making it more manageable.

This option can be particularly helpful if you plan on staying with AT&T for an extended period anyway.

File a Complaint

If you believe that the ETF is unfair or unjust, you have the option to file a complaint. You can reach out to AT&T’s customer service department or submit a complaint through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website.

Be sure to provide all relevant details and documentation to support your case. While filing a complaint does not guarantee a waiver of the ETF, it can help draw attention to your situation and potentially lead to a resolution in your favor.

Remember, it’s important to approach these options with a courteous and respectful attitude. Being polite and explaining your circumstances can go a long way in potentially finding a solution that works for you.


Terminating your AT&T wireless contract early comes with a steep price tag in the form of an ETF. While AT&T rarely waives the fee, you may be able to avoid it by waiting out your contract, selling it, or negotiating with customer service.

For most customers, the ETF serves as motivation to stick with AT&T’s service until the contract term is complete.

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