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Discover the hidden fees on a DIRECTV bill (and what to do about them)

Trey Paul

May 31, 2019 — 2 min read

Feeling confused by the high cost of your DIRECTV bill? Let us help you understand where those fees may be coming from … and how to keep them from escalating.

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Considering getting DIRECTV? You’re not alone. Consumers like DIRECTV. In fact, the latest data from the American Customer Satisfaction Index rates them at 66/100, higher than any of the cable companies and in the top five of all subscription services. So, they’re doing something right.

At the same time, some may recall the CBS News report from 2017 which highlighted customer complaints about overcharging and confusion over the rates they were being charged for DIRECTV. But don’t fear. We’re here to help!

If knowing is half the battle, then get fully educated on the types of fees you may face with your DIRECTV service … and give yourself the best chance to avoid paying more than is necessary.

Guide to DIRECTV fees

The DIRECTV feeWhat it really means
Activation feeThis one-time charge occurs when you begin service. Be sure to check on this one. It is often waived with promotional deals.
Advanced receiver serviceMonthly fee for DVR, HD and Whole-Home services.
Autopay and paperless billingA monthly fee required in order to sign up for many DIRECTV promotions. It’s typically waived for the first year, but expect to see it for the last 12 months of your agreement.
Early termination feeA charge for each month remaining on your contract. So, depending on when you cancel, you could owe more than $400.
Federal cost recovery chargeAnnual charge to recover fees paid to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
HD access feeYou will incur this monthly charge if you subscribe to HD feeds of channels with your HD or HD-DVR receiver.
Late feeThis will post to your account if you are late with your monthly payment.
NFL Sunday TicketThis popular subscription of National Football League games is often included for free in some packages for the first year. However, it automatically renews at full price thereafter, so if you don’t want to incur that fee in the second year of your contract, be sure to cancel before the date specified in your renewal notice.
Non-activation feeYou are charged a set price if you fail to activate your receiver within 30 days of installation. Often impacts customers who are moving to a new location and may not yet be living in their new residence.
Phone payment feeThis charge is incurred whenever you talk to an agent for payment. To avoid it, make all payments online or using their automated system.
Premium channel feePrices range based on the premium channels. Some promotional packages include HBO for free in the first year and three months of Cinemax, Showtime and Starz. If you don’t want to see those fees after the promotional period, keep your eyes on the calendar and cancel those subscriptions before they renew.
Regional sports feeThis monthly fee applies to the Choice package and all higher levels as well.
TV access feeOn some promotions, this is waived for your first receiver. But you’ll be charged on a monthly basis for any additional ones.
Unreturned equipment feePrice paid per receiver that is not returned. So, even if you move quickly or unexpectedly, try to find time to get that gear back to DIRECTV.

Frequently asked questions

Can I try DIRECTV for 30 days to see if I like it?

No. When you sign up with DIRECTV, you agree to a two-year contract.

If I decide to cancel my contract, do I have to pay a termination fee?

Yes. In addition to a deactivation fee, you will receive a hefty, prorated charge of up to $480. Since customers are used to plunging into 30-day trial runs, often free, in order to catch up on their favorite, binge-able TV obsessions (Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things, etc.) — then cancelling said service without charge (or, at worst, paying a one-month fee because you didn’t get to it in time) — getting a potential $480 bill is quite the shocker.

I’m a big football fan and want to buy the NFL Sunday Ticket. Do I have to get DIRECTV to get it?

Yes. America’s most popular sport, according to an NBC News story, has other suitors for their subscription package, but currently, the only way to get it is through DIRECTV.

Why has my DIRECTV bill gone up?

Almost all of the promotional deals and enticing offers from DIRECTV are only effective for the first 12 months of the contract. Once you get into the second year of the agreement, the cost increases to the regular rate for your given package, which is typically more than double the promo rate.

If you have any further questions or would like to explore more about getting DIRECTV for your home, reach out and call our TV experts today!