How to Switch or Cancel Internet and Cable Service

Written by

Last Updated: Apr 1, 2024
Person upset on the phone making a cancellation
Switching your internet provider or cable service doesn’t have to be difficult.
  • Before you make the change to another provider, you need to read the fine print of your agreement to avoid unexpected charges.
  • Early termination fees and equipment return fees are the two most common ways providers charge you extra when you cancel.
  • Canceling your service online can make the process smoother and less stressful.

Whatever your reason might be, there may come a time when you need to cancel your internet and cable service. While it doesn’t hurt to start fresh, you might encounter some complications during the cancellation process. This guide covers everything you need to know about canceling your agreement as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Changing Internet Providers

While some people intend to forgo internet and cable service altogether, chances are that you’ll be shopping around for another provider. There are a few tips and guidelines to keep in mind so you’ll have a better experience this time around and find a plan that works for you.

  • Make sure you read the fine print of any agreement. Much of the frustration people experience when dealing with ISPs are miscellaneous fees or add-ons that raise the price beyond what they were expecting. Take the time to inform yourself about all monthly charges and early termination fees (ETFs) to ensure you don’t see any surprises when you get your first bill.
  • Take the opportunity to shop around. In many cases, people will have access to multiple providers. Find all available service providers in your area, read customer reviews, and seek out a plan or bundle that checks all the boxes.
  • Check to see if your existing equipment will work with your new provider. If you happen to own your own router, for example, finding a provider that supports your device may save you monthly fees or the expense of purchasing the equipment outright.
  • Inquire about any available incentives for switching. Many providers will cover a portion of your ETFs if you switch. Providers often have deals specifically designed for customers who are switching internet providers — taking advantage of these programs could make your monthly bill even more affordable.

Canceling Service: The Basics

Whether you switch providers or give up the internet, you’ll have to cancel your current plan. We dive deep into the process of canceling internet and cable service below, but the general process can be broken down into a few simple steps:

  1. Check your contract for ETFs to ensure that you don’t get hit with any unexpected charges.
  2. Log into your account online and see if you can cancel digitally.
  3. If that’s not an option, call customer service and ask for the cancellation department.
  4. You’ll likely be routed to a retention agent who will try to convince you to stay with last-second deals. If you’re not interested, you may need to firmly insist on cancellation.
  5. Once cancellation is confirmed, return any equipment that belongs to your ISP.

How to Cancel Cable but Keep the Internet

If you want to cancel cable but keep your internet, you need to do the following two steps:

  1. Call customer service.
  2. Request to cancel TV but keep internet service.

There’s a chance you may pay ETFs if you’re still locked in a contract. However, canceling cable often allows existing internet customers to get new customer deals on internet-only plans.

Early Termination Fees

When you sign a contract with an ISP, chances are that they’ve included some sort of fine print that explains the inclusion of an ETF. These fees apply when you cancel your service before the end of your contract. They could potentially cost you a significant amount of money — sometimes so much that it makes sense to keep your service active. The ETF allows the company to collect a portion of the money that you would have paid if you had let your agreement run its course.

In the future, if you’re unsure if you’ll be able to commit to a contract, it may be worthwhile to pay a little bit extra for a month-to-month plan. Like we mentioned earlier, many ISPs offer to pay your early termination fees when you switch providers. One of the most notable internet providers is Spectrum®, but there are a number of companies across the country that offer deals for switching services and will help you bail on your current provider. In most cases, information about these deals are available on your prospective ISP’s website. If you’re unsure if they offer that perk, a quick call to customer service can give you the answer you need.

Negotiating Lower Rates

While there are cancellation services that take the pain out of the process, you can cut out the middleman and take 100 percent of the savings for yourself if you’re willing to put up with a few phone calls. Many cable and internet companies would prefer to keep you as a customer at a lower rate than lose you completely. There’s generally a lot of wiggle room if you feel you’re paying too much monthly. Reading up on proper negotiating tactics will also go a long way towards helping you reduce your cable and internet bill.

Equipment Returns

When you finally get through the process of canceling your internet and cable service, there are few more steps before you can finally cut ties with your ISP. While some people buy their internet or cable equipment outright, the majority of plans add a monthly fee in order to rent their equipment. If you aren’t prompt with the return of your equipment, you could be charged a high fee for the price of the router or cable box — a piece of equipment that might not work with other providers.

Some companies offer an option to return cable and internet equipment by mail, but it might be easier to head into a physical location in order to drop it off. One advantage of heading into the store is the ability to get physical documentation that they’ve received your equipment. Cable companies aren’t always perfect at keeping track of the process, and you’ll definitely want to avoid being charged for equipment that you’ve already returned.

Cancel Online

Not every internet provider offers the ability to cancel service online, but for the ones that do, that’s probably your best option. Whether the cancellation process is automated or you have to speak via online chat with a representative, the whole ordeal is usually less stressful than dealing with retention over the phone.

Cancellation Resources

For further information on canceling service and finding a plan that works for you, take a look at the resources included below.