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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.

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

How much is DIRECTV per month? Good question. DIRECTV requires signing a two-year contract. Your monthly payment will be cheaper for the first year but 30%–38% higher in the second year. You can see first-year and second-year rates in the table.

The one bonus is that DIRECTV will usually throw in a nice freebie on top of your plan. Currently, you can get the following deals:

  • Free NFL SUNDAY TICKET MAX for a year (current season) when you sign up for the CHOICETM package and higher
  • Three free months of HBO MAXTM CINEMAX®, EPIX®, SHOWTIME®, and STARZ® when you sign up for the ENTERTAINMENT package and higher

Just don’t forget to cancel those offers at the end of your promo period, otherwise your DIRECTV monthly cost will go way, way up (click here to see costs).

DIRECTV price hikes up close

How much does DIRECTV really cost?

Package Channel count Contract price (first 12 months)* Ongoing price (mos. 13–24)
DIRECTV ENTERTAINMENT 160+ channels $74.99/mo. $107.00/mo.
DIRECTV CHOICE™ 185+ channels $79.99/mo. $129.00/mo.
DIRECTV ULTIMATE 250+ channels $99.99/mo. $159.00/mo.
DIRECTV PREMIER™ 330+ channels $149.99/mo. $214.00/mo.

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

As you can see, your monthly cost goes up quite a bit during the second year of your DIRECTV contract. We’re not huge fans of this sneaky tactic.

Another heads up: if you have any promotional offers on your account, remember to cancel them before they auto-renew. Here are the auto-renew prices for DIRECTV’s current deals and promotions:

  • HBO Max: $14.99 a month after your free introductory period (three months).
  • CINEMAX®, EPIX®, SHOWTIME®, and STARZ®: $38.96 per month after your three free months.
  • NFL SUNDAY TICKET MAX: $395.94 per year after your free season.

DIRECTV internet plans

Unlike many TV providers, DIRECTV doesn’t offer its own internet service. But you can still bundle with AT&T Internet, even though the two providers are now separate businesses. That said, don’t expect a discount when you bundle.

If you’d rather get internet from another provider in your area, you can enter your zip code below to see your options:

Please enter a valid zip code.

Bundle DIRECTV with AT&T Internet

If you live in an area with AT&T and bundle with either of AT&T’s internet services, you’ll get the option to add AT&T Internet service when you order DIRECTV online. To see what you’ll pay, check out our main DIRECTV review.

DIRECTV taxes, fees, and surcharges

Most of DIRECTV’s hidden fees aren’t things you’ll have to worry about every month.

You’ve got your taxes, which are determined by where you live. And there’s the regional sports fee, which DIRECTV charges their customers regardless of their viewing preferences.

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 hidden fees up close

Fee Price What it’s for
TV Access Fee $7.00/receiver Connecting each receiver
Regional Sports Fee Up to $11.99/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.

DIRECTV installation fees

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.

Fee Price What it's for
Activation fee $19.95 Activating your DIRECTV service

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

DIRECTV equipment fees

Unlike most cable providers, DIRECTV doesn’t charge you extra for a DVR. You get the Genie DVR lease and service fee included in your DIRECTV package—no hidden costs here. Think how refreshing it will be to watch all that recorded TV you didn’t have to pay extra for.

If you want to zone out in front of more than one TV, though, 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. The Genie 2 and one Genie Mini Wireless are also included free with your plan, but 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.

Fee Price What it’s for
Genie Mini receiver $7/mo. ea. Adding 1+ wired receivers to your package
Genie Mini Wireless Receiver $7/mo. ea. Adding 2+ wireless receivers to your package
Genie 2 bridge fee $99 Upgrading to the new Genie 2
Equipment non-return fee $45–$135 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.

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

For the first three months, DIRECTV includes HBO®, SHOWTIME®, STARZ and Cinemax® in your service. Unless you have DIRECTV PREMIER™, which includes them in the package, these premium channels will cost you $53.95 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.

Premium channels and pricing

Channel add-ons What it includes Price
HBO Max HBO's awesome streaming service $14.99/mo.
CINEMAX, SHOWTIME, and STARZ Big-name premium channels $32.97/mo.
EPIX EPIX 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 $29.99/mo. for 5 mos.
$149.95/season in 1 payment
NFL SUNDAY TICKET Every out-of-market NFL game $48.99/mo. for 6 mos.
$293.94/season in 1 payment
NFL SUNDAY TICKET MAX Everything from NFL SUNDAY TICKET plus NFL RedZone, DIRECTV FANTASY ZONE™, and live access on the go with the NFL SUNDAY TICKET app $65.99/mo. for 6 mos.
$395.94/season in 1 payment
NHL CENTER ICE Up to 40 out-of-market games each week and NHL Network included during the NHL season $199.95/season in 1 payment
MLS DIRECT KICK 300+ regular-season out-of-market games $22.25/mo. for 4 mos.
$89/season in 1 payment

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

DIRECTV late fees

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.

Fee Price What it's for
Late Payment Charge $4.25 Not paying your bill by the due date

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

DIRECTV cancellation costs

DIRECTV cancellation fees up close

Fee Price What it’s for
Early Termination Fee Up to $480 (prorated monthly) Canceling your DIRECTV service before the end of your contract
Equipment Non-Return Fee $45–$135 Failing to return equipment after you cancel service

Data effective 09/03/20. 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


  • $74.99/mo. for 12 mos.
  • $107.00/mo. after intro. period
  • 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. You also get a Genie DVR included in the price.


Final take: mind DIRECTV’s two-year contract

Compared to other providers, DIRECTV doesn’t have many hidden fees. But the big one to keep in mind is substantial: all its packages nearly double in price the second year. And because DIRECTV has two-year contracts, you’ll have to pay those raised prices—unless you want up to $480 in cancellation fees.

As long as you’re prepared for all that, we won’t talk you out of DIRECTV. With its included DVR and 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.


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.

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, the receiver charges are applicable, and when you end your account, you can be charged 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 and you’ll be considered a new customer despite your history.

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.

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