Did you know that you can temporarily suspend your satellite TV service if you need to? That means no more worrying about paying your bill during long vacations or periods of unemployment. Yup, with a little effort, you can save money on your household bills while you fly south for the winter.
How to Pause Your DISH or DIRECTV Service
What does pausing satellite TV service mean?
DISH and DIRECTV both have two-year contracts that make it expensive to cancel early. If you cancel before your contract is up, you can end up paying up to $480 in early termination fees (ETFs).1 Yikes! So, customers who have DISH or DIRECTV sometimes feel like they’re locked in to two solid years of service—but that isn’t actually the case.
Both DISH and DIRECTV offer service pause options. What’s a service pause? If you ask for a service pause (or a vacation hold), your service will be temporarily turned off and you can keep your equipment and setup right where they are. You won’t be billed for regular service (although there’s a small $5 to $7 per month fee that you’ll need to pay).2 If you pause in the middle of a month, you’ll be billed for the days you had service but not for the days your service is paused. Once you arrive back in town, you just turn your service back on (with a phone call) and it’s showtime again.
A service pause comes in handy for people who travel during parts of the year. It’s also helpful for folks who need a break on their bills due to job loss or complications related to COVID-19. By pausing your service, you avoid paying early termination fees. And, once you’re ready to resume service, you won’t have to pay installation fees again or go through the hassle of getting a technician to come out and set up your service.
You don’t have to call weeks in advance—you can have your DISH or DIRECTV service paused the same day. And the same goes for turning your service back on—just call the morning you leave the beach and it’ll be switched on and ready to go when you arrive home.
How to pause DISH TV service
You can pause or restart your DISH TV service by calling DISH directly at 1-866-974-0769. It’s not quite 24/7 customer service, but it’s close. They’re open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. On weekends, they open a little later in the morning (7:30 a.m.) and they close at midnight.
You can’t pause service with the DISH TV app. Yeah, this would be super convenient, but it isn’t possible on the app.
You’ll need to have your account number handy or call on the phone number associated with your account. You may have to wait a bit (we waited an average of eight minutes every time we called), but they’ll take care of it for you pretty quickly once the wait music ends.
You can pause your DISH service for up to six months. DISH charges $5 per month for accounts on hold. To learn more about DISH policies, check out DISH Satellite TV Review.
How to pause DIRECTV
If you’re moving south for the winter or in with family for the summer, you can pause or suspend your DIRECTV services for a month or more at a time by calling 1-800-288-2020. When prompted, say “suspend account,” and it will connect you with a service representative who can pause your DIRECTV service. Just be sure to have an old bill ready with your account number, or know the phone number associated with your account.
Like DISH, DIRECTV’s app doesn’t allow you to pause service from the app. You have to call to put your DIRECTV on hold. Once you’re ready to resume service, call again and you’ll be ready to go.
You can pause your service up to six months with DIRECTV. DIRECTV charges $7 per month for accounts on hold. If you want to dig deeper into DIRECTV pricing or policies, check out DIRECTV Satellite TV Review.
Press pause to avoid big fees
Pausing service can save you a lot of money. Early termination fees for satellite TV service can be pretty steep—up to $480, depending on how many months you have remaining on your contract. You’ll pay $20 per month for each month remaining on your contract (the rate is the same for both companies). So, if you just have two months remaining, it’ll cost $40. But if you have a year left, it’ll cost you $240.
In addition to the early termination fees, you may also have to pay equipment fees if your equipment is damaged or doesn’t get returned properly.
Pausing your service is a good idea whenever possible because you won’t incur those hefty fees. You can pause your service up to six months with DIRECTV or up to nine months with DISH.
Early termination fees for DISH and DIRECTV
Satellite TV provider
Early termination fee (ETF)
$20/mo. for each mo. remaining on contract (up to $480)
$20/mo. for each mo. remaining on contract (up to $480)
If you need a portable satellite TV system for an RV, we recommend DISH Outdoors. You can take it with you on the road and you don’t have to pay for service when your RV isn’t in use. And if you have DISH service at home, you can pause it when you leave for your seasonal travels.
What you need to know before you pause your DISH or DIRECTV service
A service pause won’t change the terms of your contract. If you sign a two-year contract, the months your service is turned off won’t count toward the two years. So, if you have service turned off from May until September, a two-year contract will actually last two years and four months to make up for the four months of paused service.
Service pauses also won’t cancel monthly installment payments for sports seasons. If you signed up for NFL SUNDAY TICKET and you’re only part way through the season, you can’t get out of it by pausing your service. If you pause, you’ll still have to pay the monthly installments for the season pass even if your service isn’t active for the whole season.
And, if you have a promotional discount, such as $10 off for 12 months, your service pause can’t pause and resume a discount. If you have three months remaining on a $10 discount and you pause your service for two months, you’ll have only one more month left of the discount when you resume service.
Other ways to save money on satellite TV
If your satellite TV bill is getting a little too high, you can save money by cutting out premium channels. You might also be able to switch to a smaller TV package. Do you really need a package that includes all the Hallmark channels just for the few weeks a year when your mom visits?
Be aware that sometimes switching to a less expensive plan might restart your contract. This is why we recommend starting with a less expensive package and upgrading later on.
Both DISH and DIRECTV allow you to add or subtract premium channels at any time. You can use this to your advantage by adding a premium channel like HBO® for a few months when a new season of your favorite show comes out, and then dropping it after you’ve watched every episode. This is a much cheaper option than paying for an entire year’s worth of premium channels.
If you combine the premium channel canceling strategy with downgrading your TV package, you can save money on your satellite TV. You’ll just need to rotate between premium channels if you want to watch season premieres on your favorite networks.
Final take: Pausing DISH and DIRECTV is easy
Pressing pause on your DISH or DIRECTV service is fairly easy and painless. And it’ll save you money while you cruise the country in your RV or get ahead on the bills during a downturn. While it’d be cool if you could put a vacation hold on your service with an app, a phone call isn’t much harder (which is bad news for people with phone anxiety but good news for the rest of us).
FAQ about pausing DISH and DIRECTV
Is it free to pause DISH and DIRECTV service?
No, it is not free to pause DISH or DIRECTV, but it costs only $5 to $7 per month. You do not need to pay at the time you put your account on hold, but you will need to pay a monthly service pause fee. DISH charges $5 per month for accounts on hold and DIRECTV charges $7 per month.
You do not need to pay an equipment rental fee with either of these services while your service is paused, even though you will still have the equipment at your home. And even though your service is paused, you will still have to pay monthly installment payments for sports seasons like NFL SUNDAY TICKET.
How long can you pause your DISH or DIRECTV service?
With DIRECTV, you can pause your TV service for one to six months at a time. With DISH, you can pause your TV service for one to nine months at a time.
How do you pause DISH service?
To pause your DISH network service, call DISH customer service at 1-866-974-0769. They’ll ask you for your account number and then they can pause your service. When you want to resume it, just give them another call.
Can I pause my DIRECTV service?
Yes, you can pause your DIRECTV service by calling customer service at 1-800-288-2020. When prompted, ask to suspend your account. This places a hold on your service, which will be turned on when you call back to resume it.
Where can I find more DISH FAQ?
We have a DISH FAQ page for more information.
Where can I find more DIRECTV FAQ?
We have a DIRECTV FAQ page for more information.
- DISH, “How Much Does It Cost To Cancel DISH Network Early,” July 2017. Accessed August 20, 2020.
- AT&T/DISH network, “Put Your Service on Vacation Hold,” [undated]. Accessed August 24, 2020.
- Willcox, James, Consumer Reports, “How Orby TV Is Targeting Cord-Cutters,” July 25, 2019. Accessed August 26, 2020.