Android A to Z - ETF

What's an ETF? An early termination fee is something you agree to, albeit grudgingly, when you sign a contract with a carrier. In return for, say, Verizon, selling you a phone for $199 instead of the "full" $499 off-contract price, you agree that you'll stay with that carrier for a given amount of time. In the U.S., that's usually two years. (In Canada, it could be an excruciating three years.) So you get a cheaper phone, and the carrier gets guaranteed monthly payments.

You can break out of that contract, but there are penalties. That's where the ETF comes in. If you want to break a contract and move your service to another carrier, you'll have to pay the early termination fee. It's usually prorated depending on how many months are left on your contract, which is good. But it still can be several hundred dollars. (Occasionally you'll hear about your new carrier promising to pay the ETF for you.)

Here are the ETF conditions for the four major U.S. carriers as of this writing:

  • Verizon: $350 for an "advanced device"; $175 for others.
  • Sprint: $350 for an "advanced device"; $200 for others
  • AT&T: $325 for an "advanced device"; $150 for others
  • T-Mobile: $200 if more than 180 days left on contract; $100 for 91-180 days left on contract; $50 for 30-90 days. With less than 30 days remaining, ETF is $50 or amount of your bill, whichever is less

Previously on Android A to Z: What is Dalvik; Find more in the Android Dictionary

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Reader comments

Android A to Z: What's an ETF?



there is a somewhat unofficial loophole if you have Verizon Wireless, but you have to ask for it.

for example, if you move to a new house and the neighborhood can't get Verizon Wireless
signal.... the street must show up on Verizon's coverage map as no signal... if you send
them proof of your new residence(utility bills such as cable/power/water, or a lease,
deed, etc), they will let you off the contract and waive the ETF. You will still have to pay
for whatever balance is remaining on your bill.

in addition, they sometimes will waive ETF for active military members who are posted to
overseas bases. again.... you'll have to ask a supervisor to do this. (but in most cases,
they'll just let you "suspend" your acct and resume it when you return to the US... )

Cingular Wireless used to do that as well... but I don't know what the situation is after
it became AT&T. Doesn't hurt to ask.

I'm not sure if it's still the case, but YEARS ago when I moved, I could no longer get AT&T's signals. I called repeatedly and spoke with several people and send countless emails regarding the issue.

Their response was "a competitor's tower is interfering with our signal in your neighborhood, why don't you just get a landline?"

Needless to say, i was never able to back out of the contract without having to pay a fee... I had a relative ride out the contract since they were looking for a phone at the time.

BTW, Does anyone know if anybody took advantage of the Sprint ETF dealio where they enticed you to switch from T-Mobile during the onset of the acquisition phase, reimbursed you a chunk of change to help with your ETF, then promised to let you out of your contract without an ETF if the T-Mobile/AT&T merger failed?

I did the switch (unfortunately) and I'm not super-crazy about the reception I get with Sprint in my city, and I'm thinking of switching back.

I'm probably going to pay the ETF for Sprint and kick them to the curb. EVO was my first softkeyboard phone. I've had it now for just over a year and can say without hesitation I will never pick up another phone without a physical keyboard again. (Even if that means going back to a dumbphone.) There is a reason why this site exists. Yes you can turn off auto correct...then your WPM drops. softkeyboards are the result of an industry based around looks over substance. I want a device that allows me to blaze through communication, not backspacing to fix a mess up. Not pecking around because my thumb overlaps with the key next to it.
However The newest phone on Sprint that has a keyboard is the EVO Shift 4G. A phone that is just about a year old. Or the Epic. Which would be perfect...if its guts weren't lagging behind and is WELL over a year old.

What pisses me off is that its obvious that Sprint isn't even bothering to throw us a bone.

Also, if you signed your last contract before the ETF hikes took place (Verizon, AT&T and Sprint), your ETF should be lower than the numbers specified here, which are the current ones.

The above ETF cost listing is enough justification alone for the AT&T purchase of T-Mobile not being approved.

In canada the ETF is outrageous, i knew a friend who had to pay $700 just to get out of a 3yr contract