Money

How to Get Out of a Contract Without Paying Termination Fees

From cell phone agreements to gym memberships, here's how to break free and save hundreds.

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Want out of a service but feel stuck with your current one because you signed a contract or lease? Here, easy ways to get around it — without paying a dime.

Quit your wireless plan

Hefty early termination fees (ETFs) can be a huge deterrent from switching wireless carriers, but great news: Some competing wireless service providers will pay most or all of these ETFs for you. For example, Sprint and T-Mobile cover up to $650 of ETFs when you switch to their service. And Spectrum covers up to $500 when you order one of their bundled services. Restrictions and qualifications based on location can vary, so to find the best EFT-covering deals for you, call around to wireless providers and ask what they can offer.

Terminate a car lease

Getting out of a car lease before it’s ended is easy when you transfer the rest of your lease to, say, someone who wants to try out a certain car short-term before buying it. Most automakers allow this switch, charging a one-time transfer fee of $300 to $650 — which you can ask the new leaseholder to pay. To find someone, ask family and friends or list it on a site like SwapALease.com ($49.95 listing fee + $95 transaction fee). Once you find a match, just fill out paperwork signing over the car, and the new lease resumes the monthly payment

End your timeshare

No longer want your timeshare? “Simply contact your resort developer or manager,” urges Jason Gamel, president and CEO of the American Resort Development Association. “Many offer a buyback program, where they’ll take your timeshare back, or a resell program, where they help you sell it to someone else.” Looking for only a temporary break from payments? You can rent out the timeshare on vacation rental websites, such as AirBnB.com and VRBO.com, or ask your timeshare company to help you find renters.

Stop a gym membership

There are ways out of a gym membership without paying sky-high cancellation fees! First, check the details in your contract—you may be surprised. Many gyms allow you to terminate without a fee if you simply send a certified letter within a certain number of days in advance of requesting it (such as 14 to 30 days). Other gyms will grant you a no-fee cancellation if you develop a medical issue (such as a herniated disc) that prevents you from using it or if you move out of the area. No longer have your contract? Simply ask the gym manager for a copy!

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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