How to Avoid TV Cancellation Fees

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Let’s be honest. Cable TV doesn’t have the same appeal that it had 20 years ago now that you can stream the same channels at a cheaper price.

Before cutting the cord, it’s important to avoid cable cancellation fees to instantly enjoy the savings.

You may not be able to avoid the cancellation fee, but here are some ways to save money by canceling cable TV.

The Best Way to Avoid TV Cancellation Fees

Man laying down on a grey couch changing the tv channel with a remote

If you’re still under contract, expect to pay an early termination fee. For most cable providers, this fee can be up to $200.

For that reason, your best option may be to wait until your contract ends. You might have to pay a disconnect fee to cancel your service, but you avoid the early termination fee.

But, if you’re in the middle of a contract, you need to dig deeper.

Read the Contract

Like any contract, the terms and conditions are a legal document.

If you quit paying without permission, and you continue to refuse to pay, you can damage your credit score. And, a court can order you to pay late fees too.

The potential penalties mean you have to work hard to avoid cancellation fees.

Before you call customer service, read your contract terms and conditions.

First, look for any clauses that waive the cancellation fee.

Some legitimate reasons that may work include:

  • Constant outages
  • Removal of channels
  • Unexpected fee increases
  • Breach of contract

Then, write the reasons you’re canceling on a piece of paper. If possible, gather any paper evidence you may need. Preparation gives you the best chance to avoid fees.

Compare TV Cancellation Fees to Bundling Fees

Sometimes, it’s cheaper to keep your current cable TV plan. For instance, the best rates might be for TV, internet and phone bundles.

Once you drop cable TV and go to a plan that just includes internet and phone, your new monthly payment might be higher for those products. However, this isn’t always the case.

It’s good to know the service and bundle prices before you call as well. After all, knowledge is power.

Call the Cable Company to Cancel Your Contract

Remember, the cable company wants to keep your business. Often, it will offer a lower rate to keep you. Maybe, this is the latest teaser rate. Or, it can be a previous rate you had.

Before you call, establish the most you’re willing to pay to cancel your contract. If the cable company lets you cancel, you must be ready to commit. But, only agree if their terms mesh with your terms.

Return Your Cable Accessories

After you cancel, there’s one more step to avoid TV cancellation fees. Most likely, you need to drop your cable box off at your local office.

If you don’t return before the deadline, you buy any unreturned equipment. Unless you restart your cable services, the devices are useless.

Alternative: Use Trim to Lower Your Cable TV Subscription Fee

If all that sounds like too much work, consider using Trim. This service is free to join.

Trim can help you save money on these bills:

  • Cable TV
  • Home Internet
  • Cell Phone
  • Car Insurance

First, you need to connect your cable TV account to Trim. After this, a Trim agent will call the cable company to lower your bill. They can even cancel your service for you if you choose to.

If they succeed in lowering your bill, Trim keeps a 25% success fee. But you’ll at least save time by not calling the cable company yourself. Plus, you won’t have to wait 30 minutes to talk to an agent, as I did when canceling my plan.

Related: 7 Ways to Cancel Your Cell Phone Contract Without Paying Fees

Alternatives to Cable TV

Cable TV is convenient. And, adjusting to life without cable can be difficult at first.

But you can watch the same channels for a lot less money by switching to a streaming service or using an over-the-air antenna (OTA).

Most streaming apps offer live TV plus on-demand shows and movies.

Before you cut the cord, try at least one of these alternatives first to make sure you get quality reception. Most services offer a risk-free trial.

Buy an HDTV Antenna

One common reason people keep their cable is to watch the local channels. If local channels are important to you, buy an HDTV antenna.

In some cases, the picture quality is clearer with an antenna. You can either buy an outdoor or indoor antenna. The answer depends on how far you live from the broadcast towers.

To find out, visit Antenna Web and enter your street address.

Even if you live 80 miles away, you can still get reception with an HDTV outdoor antenna. Even  some indoor HDTV antennas have a range of up to 70 miles.

In addition to the main local channels, you can watch many sub-channels. For example, this might be channel 10.3 or 8.4. These channels may air movies, old TV shows, or reality shows.

In a large city, you can watch over 100 channels. For example, Phoenix offers over 170 over-the-air channels.

Regardless of the antenna you choose, it plugs directly into your TV. After the one-time purchase, you may never pay to watch TV again.


Hulu might be the most complete alternative to cable TV. After all, the major networks all own a partial stake in Hulu. This means they are willing to let you watch their channels.

You have two streaming plan options on Hulu.

Hulu with Live TV

To replace cable TV, go with Hulu with Live TV. After a 7-day free trial, you pay $64.99 per month.

If you’re paying $100 a month for cable, that means you can have an extra $35 in your pocket each month for a similar channel lineup.

You can stream over 75 cable channels live on Hulu including:

  • ESPN
  • Fox Sports
  • FX
  • HGTV
  • TNT

With these channels, you can still watch your favorite sports teams. And, you can still access your favorite lifestyle programs, too.

You also get 50 hours of cloud DVR storage. Not having a DVR is another reason people sometimes keep cable, but that reason goes away if you get Hulu. And, you can watch Hulu on two screens at once.

Plus, you can also add on premium movie networks for a fee if you want. These networks include HBO, Cinemax and Showtime.

Finally, you get access to the complete Hulu on-demand library. This includes the original Hulu shows and movies. And, many movies and shows from the major networks.

Some of the additional add-on features you may purchase include:

  • Enhanced Cloud DVR (up to 200 hours): $9.99/month
  • Unlimited Screens: $9.99
  • Premium movie channels: $8.99 to $14.99
  • ESPN+ or Disney+: $6.99

Tip: You may be able to get Hulu for free or at a nice discount.

Hulu On-Demand ($5.99 per month)

If you don’t need live TV or cloud DVR, choose the on-demand Hulu plan. For $5.99 per month, you can watch the entire Hulu library on-demand.

So, you might have to wait a day to watch the latest episode. But, you now watch your favorite shows for only $6 a month.

If you want no ad interruptions for on-demand content, you pay $11.99 monthly instead.

And, you can also add on the premium movie networks.

So, will you choose Hulu or Hulu Plus (Hulu with Live TV)?

Sling TV

One of the first cable streaming apps was Sling TV. It also happens to be one of the most affordable alternatives to cable.

In fact, Sling is the cheapest way to watch ESPN. You will only pay $40 per month.

When you join, you must pick one channel package. The Sling Orange and Sling Blue plans each cost $40 per month. Or, you can get both for $55 per month to get both.

Then, you can add extra package themes for $6 per month. Some of the packages include family, comedy and Hollywood channels.

A Sports Extra package is available too for $11 per month.

To get up to 200 hours of cloud DVR instead of the standard 50 hours, you will need to pay $5 per month extra.

No matter which plan you choose, Sling can be cheaper than Hulu. You can get similar cable channels but Hulu offers more local channels.

Here is a closer look at the Orange and Blue plans.

Sling Orange ($40 per month)

This package is the most affordable way to watch the Disney or ESPN networks. As a tradeoff, you can’t access the Fox networks like FX or Fox Sports.

And, you can only stream on one device at once. To stream on multiple devices, you need one of the other two plans.

Sling Blue ($40 per month)

Even though they cost the same amount, Sling Blue has more channels than the Orange Plan. Mostly, this is because you can’t stream Disney or ESPN.

You may want Sling Blue to stream these channels:

  • FS1 and FS2
  • FX
  • NFL Network
  • SyFy
  • Local channels

In select cities, Sling also streams your local Fox and NBC affiliate. But if local channels are all you want, you may be better off installing an HDTV antenna. This way, you get all of your local channels for free.

Sling Add-On Packages

Besides affordable $40 cable-channel plans, “a la carte” pricing is Sling’s mantra.

Starting at $6 a month, you can add channel themes to your basic plan. Depending on how many you choose, the add-ons may still be cheaper than your current cable TV plan.

FuboTV ($74.99 per month)

In most cases, sports packages are some of the most expensive plans. Most people don’t cancel cable because they have no other way to watch sports.

FuboTV streams unique sports channels for only $74.99 a month. This platform offers many lifestyle channels for non-sports entertainment too.

There are three different packages to choose from with the most expensive costing $94.99.

Starter Package ($74.99/month)

With the entry-level Starter package, you can watch more than 100 channels for $74.99 per month. Other benefits include three screens at once and 250 hours of cloud DVR.

The channel lineup has a good balance of sports, non-sports cable channels and local TV channels.

Some of the specialty sports channels include:

  • BeIn Sports
  • Big 10 Network
  • CBS Sports Network
  • NFL Network
  • TUDN

Upgrading to a higher plan can unlock more sports, premium movies and lifestyle programming.

Additional channel bundles cost between $5 and $20 per month for lifestyle and sports lineups. You may consider these bundles instead of getting a pricier monthly plan.

American and international sports bundles are available.

For example, you may add a bundle to watch college football but drop it penalty-free when the season ends.

YouTube TV ($64.99 per month)

YouTube TV is another exciting option as you can get 85 cable channels and many local affiliates for $64.99 per month.

Sports fans will be happy to get the NFL, NBA and MLB network channels in the basic lineup.

While this streaming app isn’t the cheapest option, it’s price is competitive and you can get some exciting benefits.

Some of the perks include:

  • No DVR storage limits
  • Up to 3 streaming devices at once
  • Include NFL, NBA and MLB networks

Philo TV ($25 per month)

Not all people need sports channels or local channels. If that’s you, check out Philo. It’s even cheaper than Sling TV.

For $25 a month, you can stream over 60 cable channels.

Some of these channels include:

  • AMC
  • Hallmark Channel
  • HGTV
  • Nick
  • Paramount Network
  • History

Besides the bargain price, you also enjoy unlimited DVR storage. And, you can stream on three devices at once.

Paramount+ Formerly CBS All Access ($4.99 per month)

Sometimes you might not get CBS from your HDTV antenna. Or, your cable streaming app doesn’t offer your local affiliate.

With Paramount+, you can stream your local CBS channel and a ton more.

The available cable channels include:

  • BET
  • Comedy Central
  • Nickelodeon
  • MTV
  • Smithsonian Channel

You can stream past and present CBS shows and movies, too. For instance, you can watch the original Star Trek series. In fact, you have access to more than 10,000 episodes of CBS content!

Original movies and series plus the Paramount catalog are available on-demand.

The entry-level Essential plan ($4.99/month) has commercials and doesn’t include your local CBS channel but is a great Netflix alternative.

To watch your local CBS affiliate, you must choose the Paramount+ Premium plan for $9.99 a month.

The Premium commercial-free plan ($9.99/month), you can also watch videos offline.

For Live TV, you will still have commercial breaks with either plan. Select shows have brief promotional breaks, too.

If you sign up for an annual plan, you can save 16%. Although it’s a nonrefundable contract, you won’t pay TV cancellation fees if you decide to let this subscription expire.

Amazon Prime ($8.99 per month)

One underused Amazon Prime benefit is Prime Video. Although it doesn’t have live TV options (yet), you can watch on-demand content. And its movie and TV show catalog continues to grow.

The platform offers original shows and movies. Some content may require an Amazon Prime membership to watch.

Along with free videos, you can also listen to free music.

You pay $8.99 per month for Prime Video if you don’t have a full Amazon Prime membership. A Prime membership costs $12.99 monthly or $119 annually.

If a $12.99 a month is out of your budget, try getting Amazon Prime for free.

Pure Flix ($12.99 per month)

Everyone knows about streaming movies and TV shows on Netflix. But, what if you want a family-friendly option? This is where Pure Flix comes into the picture.

Pure Flix lets you stream plenty of Christian and family-friendly content. Its library contains popular movies and TV shows. It also has exclusive content you won’t find anywhere else.

For instance, you can find most of the Kendrick Brothers films on Pure Flix. You’ll see many other new releases too.

Plus, Pure Flix has a large library of children’s content.

Finally, you can also stream Pure Flix on five devices at once! Compared to other streaming apps, this is a generous feature.

You pay $12.99 per month or an annual membership costs $99.99.


Maybe, you want to cancel your cable TV to be more productive. You might try listening to audiobooks instead while you work around the house or garden. One popular option is Audible.

While you have to pay for Audible, there are plenty of other free audiobook websites and apps.

Why listen to audiobooks instead of watch TV?

For starters, audiobooks are less distracting than TV. You can even listen to your favorite book while you work a side hustle.

Second, audiobooks usually cost less than cable TV apps. So, you can cancel your TV subscription. Then, you can listen to books for free. When you need a break, you can also find plenty of free online videos, too.

Finally, audiobooks can help you learn. Books often provide more details about subjects you’re interested in than TV shows can.

Can You Avoid TV Cancellation Fees?

Avoiding TV cancellation fees isn’t always easy. But, it’s not impossible. Apps like Trim help you negotiate the best rate.

And, streaming apps let you watch live TV without contracts. So, you never have to pay a fee to change plans again.