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Hidden Costs of DIRECTV

Our TV experts show you the true cost of DIRECTV, including installation fees, equipment charges, and more.

5-day free trial: Tired of cable and satellite TV but not quite sure if you wanna cut the cord? DIRECTV STREAM is a good streaming alternative for folks who want the look and feel of old-school TV without the installation requirements, equipment fees, and other headaches that come with cable. And it comes with all the same channels and pricing as traditional DIRECTV.

Budgeting for a DIRECTV package can be intimidating when you’re afraid extra fees lurk around every corner. But don’t fret—we’ve got all the insider knowledge on DIRECTV’s hidden fees. From contracts to equipment to cancellation costs, we’ll give you a clear look at all your options before you sign up.

DIRECTV plans and promotional prices

DIRECTV requires a two-year contract but offers a two-year price guarantee. After those two years, you’ll pay whatever amount DIRECTV has raised its package prices to since you signed up, which it calls “the current prevailing prices.”

The one bonus is that DIRECTV’s deals and promotions usually include a nice freebie on top of your plan. Currently, you can get three free months of Max™ (formerly HBO Max), CINEMAX®, MGM+™, Paramount+ with SHOWTIME®, and STARZ® when you sign up for the ENTERTAINMENT All Included package and higher.

Just don’t forget to cancel those offers at the end of your promo period, or your DIRECTV monthly cost will go way, way up. The auto-renew prices for all those premium channels total $54.95 monthly.

DIRECTV price hikes

Package Price Channel count
DIRECTV ENTERTAINMENT All Included $69.99/mo.* 165+ channels View plan
DIRECTV CHOICE™ All Included $84.99/mo.* 200+ channels View plan
DIRECTV ULTIMATE All Included $114.99/mo.* 270+ channels View plan
DIRECTV PREMIER All Included $159.99/mo.† 340+ channels View plan

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*for 24 months plus taxes and fees w/ 24-mo. agmt.
AutoPay and Paperless Bill req’d. Advanced Receiver Service Fee $15/mo. is extra and applies.

DIRECTV used to raise its prices sharply in the second year of your two-year contract, but it’s since done away with that misleading pricing.

After your two-year price guarantee, DIRECTV will charge you its latest package prices. If you don’t like those prices, your two-year agreement will be over, so you can switch to another TV provider like DISH.

DIRECTV internet plans

Unlike many TV providers, DIRECTV doesn’t offer its own internet service. DIRECTV also no longer offers any internet bundles with AT&T Internet. You can still purchase a TV plan from DIRECTV while you checkout with your AT&T internet package, but the bills will be separate and there will be no bundling savings.

We can help you find all the internet providers in your area and their lowest prices. Just enter your zip code below and hit click the Find button:

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DIRECTV taxes, fees, and surcharges

Fee Price What it’s for
TV Access Fee $7.00/receiver Connecting each receiver
Advanced Receiver Service Fee $15.00/mo. HD, DVR, and whole-home services
Regional Sports Fee Up to $15.99/mo. Including regional sports networks
Late Payment Fee Up to $6.25 Paying your bill late
Vacation Hold Up to $7.00/mo. Holding your service for 2–6 months while you’re on vacation
Returned Payment Fee Up to $30.00 (as permitted by law) Making payments that get declined
Minimum Service Up to $9.99/mo. Placing your account in minimum service status because of non-payment
Restoral Fee Up to $20.00 per restoral Reinstating your regular service after it changed to minimum service
Dispatch Fee $99.00 Dispatching a technician for requested repairs
Phone Payment Fee Up to $5.00 per payment Talking to an agent to make a payment
Order Assistance Fee Up to $5.00 per payment Speaking to an agent to order Pay Per View
Duplicate Statement Fee Up to $1.75 Sending a duplicate written statement at your request
Ledger Request Up to $2.75 Posting an itemized ledger of past payments at your request

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

There are a few DIRECTV’s hidden fees you get each month.

You’ve got your taxes, which are determined by where you live. And while DIRECTV advertises the Genie DVR device as included, you’ll still have to pay the advanced receiver service fee. Then there’s the regional sports fee, which DIRECTV charges customers with CHOICE All Included and higher-tier plans for regional sports channels.

For the most part, everything else that isn’t equipment or premium channels is incidental stuff you can avoid. We suggest using your online account to check statements and make payments, because talking to an agent on the phone can cost you extra.

DIRECTV installation fees

Fee Price What it's for
Activation fee $19.95 Activating your DIRECTV service
Additional activation fee $49.00 per TV connection Activating DIRECTV on 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th TVs

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Installing your satellite dish requires a professional technician, but luckily DIRECTV doesn’t charge for that. Instead, you’ll pay only a small activation fee. But this is waived for online orders.

The exception is the additional activation fee that DIRECTV charges folks with lots of TVs at home. After your third TV, every additional hookup will cost you a $49 onetime charge. Yikes!

DIRECTV equipment fees

Fee Price What it’s for
Advanced Receiver Service Fee Up to $25.00/mo. Receiving HD, DVR, and whole-home services
Genie Mini receiver $7.00/mo. ea. Adding 1+ receivers to your package
Genie 2 bridge fee $99.00 onetime charge Upgrading to the new Genie 2
Equipment non-return fee $45.00–$135.00 Fee for not returning equipment (varies by device)

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

DIRECTV says all its packages come with a $15 monthly advanced receiver service fee, which covers your DVR and HD service. But DIRECTV’s fees page says that fee can reach as high as $25 monthly, so keep an eye out for price hikes on this fee.

And if you want to zone out in front of more than one TV, it will cost you $7 per month for each additional Genie Mini or Genie Mini Wireless receiver.

If you want to go wireless, you can try out the new Genie 2. There is a one-time bridge fee (for wireless setup) of $99. The Genie 2 isn’t available everywhere yet, and users have complained it’s still buggy, but it has more recording time and you won’t have to go drilling holes all over your house.

To give it a shot, ask your customer service rep if Genie 2 is available in your area.

Want to learn more about DIRECTV’s equipment? Check out our review of the Genie.

How to return DIRECTV equipment

When you cancel your DIRECTV service, you can return it one of two ways:

  • Take your unboxed equipment to a FedEx Office Pack and Ship or The UPS Store location. Just give the representative your DIRECTV account number. They’ll take care of everything and give you a receipt confirming that you returned the devices.
  • DIRECTV might send you a return kit, which includes everything you need to box up the equipment—plus a prepaid shipping label. As for where to return your DIRECTV equipment, drop your box at a post office or FedEx location. (We’re not sure why you can’t take it to The UPS store for this method.)

If you don’t return your equipment, the DIRECTV equipment return fee is $45–$135 depending on the device. So make sure you send back your stuff.

DIRECTV premium channel and add-on costs

Premium channels and pricing

Channel add-ons What it includes Price
Max HBO's awesome streaming service $15.99/mo.
CINEMAX Big-name premium channel $10.99/mo.
Paramount+ with SHOWTIME Indie-films and prestige TV $11.99/mo.
STARZ Thousands of movies and shows $10.99/mo.
MGM+ MGM+ channels $5.99/mo.
MOVIES EXTRA PACK More HD programming, including classic and contemporary movies, short films, documentaries, and musical performances $4.99/mo.
Outdoor Channel Real-life outdoor adventures airing all day $4.99/mo.
NBA League Pass All out-of-market NBA games $49.99/half season
NHL CENTER ICE Up to 40 out-of-market games each week and NHL Network included during the NHL season $39.99/half season

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

For the first three months, DIRECTV includes Max™, Paramount+ with SHOWTIME®, STARZ and Cinemax® in your service. Unless you have DIRECTV PREMIER™ All Included, which includes them in the package, these premium channels will cost you $54.95 each month after the starting period.

But DIRECTV’s premiums aren’t all movie channels. With a solid lineup of special sports passes, there’s something for every sports fan.

You can pay monthly or purchase the season of whichever sport your competitive heart desires (yeah, DIRECTV carries almost all of them) in one payment. There aren’t any special savings for doing the latter, so listen to your gut on this one.

DIRECTV late fees

Fee Price What it's for
Late Payment Charge $6.25 Not paying your bill by the due date

Data as of post date. Information subject to change.

Sometimes unexpected things can stop you from paying your bill on time. DIRECTV has a small late fee charge, but it’s not too pricey.

DIRECTV cancellation costs

Fee Price What it’s for
Early Termination Fee Up to $480.00 (prorated monthly) Canceling your DIRECTV service before the end of your contract
Equipment Non-Return Fee $45.00–$135.00 Failing to return equipment after you cancel service

Data as of post date. Information subject to change.

DIRECTV has a two-year contract, and you may be tempted to cancel when prices spike in the second year. Heads up—that will cost you a pretty penny. If you decide to go through with it, don’t forget to return your DVR and receivers, or your cancellation fees will be enormous.

Cheapest DIRECTV package


  • $69.99/mo. for 24 months plus taxes and fees w/ 24-mo. agmt. AutoPay and Paperless Bill req’d. Advanced Receiver Service Fee $15/mo. is extra and applies.
  • 160+ channels

View Plan

DIRECTV has a lot of great packages, but if you’re looking for the best way to save, go with DIRECTV ENTERTAINMENT All Included.

This affordable package comes with top channels like CNN, the Disney Channel, HGTV, the History Channel, and the USA Network.

Final take: mind DIRECTV’s two-year contract

DIRECTV has few hidden fees to look out for, but it guarantees its prices for two years. As long as you’re prepared for that, we won’t talk you out of DIRECTV. With its options for sports fans, it’s a great choice that’s available across the US.

But if you’re not sold on DIRECTV, we can help you find other TV providers in your area. Just enter your zip code below, and we’ll take you to the full list:

Please enter a valid zip code.

Hidden Costs of DIRECTV FAQ

Why does DIRECTV charge a TV access fee?

The charge is for the use of each receiver, Genie Mini, and DIRECTV Ready TV devices. Before you sign up, check DIRECTV’s promotional offers, which may cover the cost of the first receiver.

Does DIRECTV charge for equipment?

Yes, when you end your account, you can be charged up to $135 per device if you don’t return your equipment in the time defined in your service contract.

How can I get DIRECTV to lower my bill?

Contact the DIRECTV customer service department at 1-855-387-6898 and use the system prompts to speak to a representative. Explain your circumstances and find out if they have any promotional offers or discounts available.

Can I cancel DIRECTV and sign up again?

Yes, you can cancel your DIRECTV service, but if it is before the end of your contract, you may pay a cancellation fee of up to $480 (prorated monthly). You can sign up again anytime after cancellation, but you may have to wait a while before DIRECTV approves you for new customer deals.

How can I cancel DIRECTV without penalty?

You cannot cancel DIRECTV online or via email, and there’s no guarantee that DIRECTV will waive your cancellation fee. But you can try your luck with its customer retention department at 1-800-228-2020. Use the prompts to speak to a representative.

Does DIRECTV charge a fee for not returning equipment?

There is a DIRECTV equpiment non-return fee. It is $45–$135 depending on the device.


The team of TV experts at regularly research and test TV services like DIRECTV in order to give our readers the most accurate information on plans, pricing, fees, features, and functionality. For more on our process, see our How We Rank page.

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