How Military Members Can Cancel TV, Internet and Phone Contracts Without Fees

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You may know that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) lets you get out of an apartment or car lease; protects you from being taken to court; and protects child custody agreements when you get permanent change of station (PCS) orders or deploy. But you may not know the SCRA also offers military move protections for your phone, TV and internet service contracts.

Thanks to changes the SCRA in Public Law 115-407, the Veterans Benefits and Transition Act of 2018, you can cancel your internet or TV programming contracts without penalty if you have deployment or relocation orders for at least 90 days to a new location that doesn't offer your current service.

The regulation previously applied only to mobile phone service. The 2018 changes apply to both cable and satellite TV, as well as any internet service you may have. You still have to return any cable boxes or modems to the company to avoid being charged, but if you have a contract with your provider and get orders, you can cancel it without paying any penalties.

PCSing Overseas with Mobile Phones

The SCRA has offered consumer protections to military members for their mobile phone contracts since 2008. If you have a contract and transfer overseas, you can cancel it with no penalty. Also, you can usually cancel your contract if you are moving to an area in the U.S. where your current carrier doesn't offer service, although you may have to fight with your carrier a bit in these situations.

A little known section of the SCRA allows you to keep your phone number if you PCS or deploy overseas. According to the law, if you cancel your service due to PCS or mobilization orders for less than three years and go back to your old company within 90 days of returning, you can get your old number back.

A provision of the law allows you to cancel a family plan as well if you are transferring overseas. Most companies will work with you in other cases, such as going overseas on an unaccompanied tour while your family remains in the States etc.

Several phone companies allow you to suspend your service instead of canceling it when you PCS or deploy. Check with your carrier for details.

Another thing to think about is taking your phone with you overseas. Depending on where you go, the local phones might not be as good, or they may cost quite a bit more than they do in the States. You can usually swap out your phone's SIM card with one from a local carrier and use your phone overseas. In Europe, you can get one SIM card that works in all European Union countries with no roaming charges. Often, the service overseas is much faster and cheaper.

Some U.S. carriers lock their phones so you can't switch SIM cards but, if you're a military member or dependent going overseas, they will unlock it for free. Check with your carrier for details.

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