Don’t be scared away by the term contract. Sure, it’s never fun to read legalese, but once you sift through the jargon, contracts can have some really nice protections you might miss with no-contract offerings. We’re here to help you break down the terms of ADT’s contracts so you can decide if they’re a match for you.
First, a word about ADT. They started way back in 1874, with a telegraph-based “call-box” that could signal for help in a community of 50 homes.1 From there they added live monitoring with security guards called “roundsmen.” All these years later, ADT is still going strong as one of the best home security systems in the industry. They’re known for high-quality equipment, reliable monitoring, and smart home automation.
Fast Facts/Overview of ADT Contracts
ADT security plans, which all include 24/7 professional monitoring, range in price from $28.99 per month to $59.99 per month. (Prices wrap in the cost of basic equipment.) There’s also an activation fee that’s somewhere in the ballpark of $125. And professional installation is required, which can run around $99-$199. Note that service charges and installation fees vary depending on your system configuration, equipment, and services.
ADT Contract Length
The standard ADT contract length is three years, except in California, where it’s two years. When your initial contract period is up, you’ll automatically be rolled over into a monthly contract. You can end that monthly contract at any time without penalties by giving ADT at least 30 days’ notice.
Early Termination With ADT
If you want to cancel your contract within your initial three-year period (or your initial two years in California), this is considered early termination, and it’ll cost you. The good news is: You won’t be on the hook for your full monthly fees through the end of your contract period. But you will still have to pay 75 percent of those remaining monthly charges, due in full upon early termination.
There are some exceptions to early termination charges. Notably, ADT has a generous six-month money-back guarantee that allows you out of your contract with no penalty within the first six months if you have service problems that ADT is unable to resolve. (Be sure to read the full terms of the guarantee.)2
There are also special offers for ending your contract early if you’re moving and will be setting up an ADT plan at your new home. And also keep in mind there’s a clause for early termination when service charges are increased. (See Increases in Charges below.)
After you’ve completed your initial contract period, you’ll automatically be rolled over into a monthly contract. At that point, just give ADT 30 days’ advance notice and you can cancel at any time with no termination fee.
Pro Tip: Before signing an ADT contract, it’s a good idea to know what your other options are. Check out our top picks for ADT alternatives.
Increases in Charges
Any time after your first year, ADT has the right to increase the annual service charge.3 If they do so, you have up to 30 days to object to the price increase in writing. If ADT doesn’t waive the increase, you can terminate your contract without paying an early termination charge. You just have to give them written notice 30 days in advance. This is quite a nice protection. Many contracts — not only for home security, but for other services like phone and the internet — don’t give you an easy-out if prices are hiked. I appreciate ADT’s fair stance on this.
ADT’s Additional Charges
There may be some additional charges, depending on your circumstances. For example, if a local construction/alarm permit is required, you’ll be responsible for that fee. If you’ve used a DIY security system before, this may be a bit different for you. DIY systems typically don’t have extra fees. The good thing is that any of these extra charges with ADT will likely be one-and-done. Just be sure to ask your ADT sales agent to tell you every additional charge in advance so you won’t be surprised.
Missed Payments or Breach of Contract
If you miss payments or fail to honor the terms of your contract, ADT has the right to stop providing security monitoring services, and to repossess or disable your equipment, without notice. They also have the right to charge late fees for each month a payment is not made, as well as interest on any unpaid amount. If you miss payments for more than 90 days, they may report you to a consumer reporting agency.
At first glance these may seem rather strict terms, but they’re really quite typical and fair for a long-term commitment. Just be sure you’re able to meet them before signing so you don’t end up getting in over your head.
Any equipment ADT installs in your home remains their property unless you have a written agreement with them that says otherwise. This means you’re basically paying to rent ADT equipment for the duration of your contract. At the termination of your contract, ADT has the right to remove, disable or abandon any of the equipment they own. Typically, they’ll simply leave the equipment on the house, and you (or a new owner, if you sell) can re-activate service at any time. If you have existing, previously-installed equipment at your house when you start your ADT contract, that equipment is, and will remain to be, your property.
Theft Protection Guarantee
ADT will pay up to $500 of your homeowner’s insurance deductible if you’re the victim of a burglary while your ADT system is active.4 This is a rare guarantee in the home security biz! It shows ADT is confident their system will keep your home safe — and that they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is if they’re wrong.
Keep in mind that you may very likely be able to get a discount on your home insurance simply for having a professionally monitored home security system installed. When you add in this extra guarantee of theft protection, you get some real peace of mind.
FYI: When you choose ADT, you’re choosing 24/7 professional monitoring from the largest home security provider in the country. ADT ranks high on our list of best home security systems with monitoring.
When you sign an ADT contract, you get a 90-day limited warranty on equipment. A limited warranty is standard in the industry, but this one is pretty short compared to what’s offered by other industry leaders, like DIY powerhouses SimpliSafe and Frontpoint, whose warranties are three years. Even Vivint, which requires a contract like ADT, has a 120-day warranty. That said, ADT has an optional extended warranty, and they do offer an impressive six-month money-back guarantee that you don’t get with other top companies. So there are trade-offs.
While your equipment is under warranty, ADT will repair or replace any defective part of the alarm system, including wiring, using new or functionally operative parts — at no cost to you. The limited warranty excludes battery replacement. And ADT won’t perform warranty services on any device they don’t personally install.
ADT’s Extended Warranty
ADT’s extended limited warranty is called the Quality Service Plan (QSP), which you can get for an additional monthly fee. The QSP will repair or replace any part of the alarm system installed by ADT if the repairs are due to ordinary wear-and-tear or malfunction. (This excludes batteries.)
The QSP starts when your alarm system is installed and operational, and it extends through the end of your initial contract. (Again, that standard contract length is three years, except in California, where it’s two.) When your initial contract period is up, your QSP will automatically renew on a monthly basis at ADT’s then-current QSP rate unless/until you cancel it in writing with 30 days’ advance notice.
Did You Know: If you’re transferring your ADT service from one home to another, ADT will likely have you leave your old equipment behind. They’ll install fresh equipment at your new place based on exactly what you need/want in the new layout.
Moving With ADT
If you’re an ADT customer who’s moving, there are some great discounts you can take advantage of. Check ADT’s website for the latest deals, or better yet, give them a call (at least 30 days before your move date, if possible). They’re going to want to do what they can to keep you in the ADT family.
ADT contracts are specific to the physical location where the alarm system is installed, so ADT will likely cancel your current contract and set you up with a new one at your new home. They’ll walk you through the whole process and discuss any options.
No, ADT only offers home security systems that include professional monitoring, and all plans require a contract. Standard contracts are three years long, except in California, where they’re two years long. If you’re looking to avoid a contract, you may want to check out some of the top-rated no-contract security systems.
If you want to cancel your contract within your initial three-year period (two years in California), ADT can charge you 75 percent of your total remaining monthly charges, due immediately upon termination (ouch). However, if you’ve completed your initial contract period and are now on a monthly renewal plan, you can cancel at any time with no termination fee. Just give ADT 30 days’ notice.
If you’re a current or former ADT customer and want to set up service at your new home, ADT has a mover’s package guarantee that includes a variety of deals for different situations. ADT wants to keep your business. Read their terms and conditions for a full list of relocation offers and qualifications.
Yes, your ADT contract automatically renews, but not for the full initial term of two-to-three years. It renews as a monthly contract. You can end that monthly contract at any time without penalties by giving ADT at least 30 days’ notice.