Read the Fine Print of Your Cable Contract Before You Sign

If you're looking for the best deals for cable television, you may have noticed most cable service providers require you to commit to a service contract, often anywhere from one to two years.

Before you sign up or provide any credit card information, make sure you've read the fine print to fully understand the commitment you're making.

Length of Contract:

Think about your current living situation. Do you see yourself living there for the entire length of your service contract or is there a remote possibility that you may decide to move. If you're currently looking for another job out of your current area, there is a real possibility you might need to break a contract. Will this mean you'll be stuck with penalties and cancellation fees?

A month-to-month cable television service may cost a bit more than a longer contract, but if you're a renter, it might be the best plan for you. A month-to-month plan would allow you to cancel, often at no charge.

Introductory offers:

Many cable and satellite providers offer introductory offers to new customers, a great way to get a lower rate on the television programming. Make sure you understand how long the introductory rates will last, either the length of your contract or only the first year of a two-year required contract. It will give you an idea of the true costs of the offer.

Hidden Fees:

If you decide to lock in on a special sign-up offer or participate in a referral program, make sure you understand the full cost of the special offers. If a cable provider advertises that you'll receive money for referring new customers, it likely doesn't mean you'll be getting a check in the mail. Instead, you might get a small percentage of the referral bonus taken off your bill over the course of a year.

Trial offers:

Trial offers can be a wonderful way to try new services, such as three months of free premium channels or other cable television offerings, like DVR. Be aware that it is up to you to call the cable service provider to cancel those channels after the trial period is over if you don't want to continue paying for the service. Mark the date on your calendar with the company's phone number as a reminder to call. If you think you may be interested in continuing those services, it is wise to know before you sign up what those true costs will be each month.

As you would do for any legal contract, it's important to know what you're signing before you make the commitment. If you have questions, all cable television providers offer customer service support online or on the phone to make sure those questions are answered and you feel confident in your decision.