3 tips for switching cell service providers

Wireless service is among the lower-rated services we evaluate. That may explain why 31 percent of respondents in our most recent survey were seriously considering switching cell phone service providers. But roughly a third of that group said they couldn't switch because of a contract and early-termination fees. (For more advice, read 7 ways to cut phone costs.)

Don’t stick with a carrier you detest. Try one of these exit options:

Get out free

There's no penalty if you quit within 14 days of buying a cell phone and signing up for service, so don't hesitate if you have concerns. Even if the clock has run out on this one, you have other options.

Pay a discounted penalty

The major contract carriers prorate early-termination fees, so if you're halfway through your AT&T contract, the $325 penalty for smart phones drops to $205. Pay the fine, and then…

Sell your phone and get your money back

A simple way to sell your phone is through Gazelle.com. Indicate the model and carrier, and the site will make an offer online and send you a prepaid mailer. Remember to deactivate your service and your password, delete data, and remove SD and SIM cards.

Our Ratings of cell phone companies include carrier performance by city, which will help you find the best service provider for your needs. For more helpful tips, see our complete Cell phone buying guide.

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