If your mobile phone provider makes increases to your fixed monthly price by more than the Retail Price Index (RPI), you should be able to exit the contract if you’re still within your minimum term without incurring a penalty fee.
Cancel a mobile contract
Generally, the only way to guarantee you’re not penalised for canceling a contract is to cancel within the cooling-off period.
Otherwise, if you cancel before the minimum contract term is up, you may have to pay an early termination fee. This can be very high.
For example, if you sign up to an 18 month contract and want to cancel in the second month, you may have to pay 16 months' worth of fees.
But you may be able to avoid these fees if you want to cancel your contract as a result of changes made by your operator.
For example, if your contract allows your operator to increase your contract by more than the Retail Price Index (RPI), you could challenge this clause as unfair.
For more information, see our guide on cancelling a contract.
Price hike? Cancel without penalty
Rules set by the regulator Ofcom mean that customers can leave mobile, landline or broadband contracts penalty-free if a provider ups prices mid-term - but only if it didn’t warn you about the rise.
You may also be allowed to leave without paying a charge if the rise is of 'material detriment', for example a rise that's bigger than the RPI rate.
If your mobile phone provider has warned you about rises in their terms and conditions and they are in line with RPI, you won’t be able to leave if you’re still locked into a contract.
If you do want to leave, you'll have to pay an exit fee.
If you’re outside the minimum term of your contract then you’ll be allowed to leave without paying. You should check with your provider about how much notice you need to give to do this.
Mobile contracts and RPI
For contracts taken out before 23 January 2014, there are no clear rules in place that allow you to cancel because of price hikes during your contract.
Your mobile phone provider may be able to hike the price of your fixed contract by the rate of the Retail Price Index (RPI).
However, for fixed contracts entered into after 23 January 2014, you are able to exit without penalty if your provider does choose to hike up its prices, unless you were told at the point of sale that the price would definitely be increasing.