During CES T-Mobile announced that it will pay Early Termination Fees for those who switch from another major carrier to a simple choice plan, trade-in their smartphones and buy a new device and port their cellular phone number. Is it worth it? How much can you save? Who is this plan best for? Why bother?
There is no easy yes or no answer to this question We say, "It depends."
First off, most ETF fees are $350 0r pro-rated by the carrier. You also probably have a highly subsidized smartphone with a true value when you bought around $500-$600 that probably will bring you $100-$250, although you can get as much as $300.
If you are already off a contract you can switch anytime. If you have an unlocked iPhone 5/5S/5c you can also switch any time between plans. If you have been waiting for a good reason to switch to T-Mobile and your are not happy with your current carrier it may be the best deal you can get right now.
If you already have an iPhone 5/5S/5c from AT&T you can not unlock the device until it is paid for or your two-year upgrade contract is over. The FCC recently reached an agreement with carriers, that carriers will be required to unlock devices when the device is paid for and the contract is over. Having an unlocked device that you like is the best position to be in.
If you must have a new iPhone, your present subsidized iPhone may be cheaper with your current carrier. If you have a family with low data usage, you can save a lot especially families of 4 to 5 members.
However if your device is locked to your carrier and you want to switch to T-Mobile it may be the right time to switch.
The Best Reasons to Switch to T-Mobile
- To save money.
- Get free data roaming from T-Mobile.
- To no longer be tied to a contract (well sort of).
- Family deal of four lines for $100 a month.
The very first thing to do is find out the kind of T-Mobile coverage in your area. If T-Mobile does not cover areas where you frequent and your cell phone is your only means of telephone service, you may want to wait until T-Mobile coverage is better in your area.
For example, I have a friend who lives near the mountains, he hikes and travels frequently. He has crazy grandfathered Verizon nights and weekend plan. Verizon Wireless has the best coverage where he lives, where he hikes and where he works. He has been trying prepaid alternative carriers such as Straight Talk, VoIP Magic App for Wi-Fi calling and AT&T goPhone. No other carrier covers his area like Verizon Wireless. He has a Sprint phone for business and at his home, the reception is poor. He had not given up his landline, he would have been fine.
Another case is some one who lived near him. Her cell phone is secondary phone, T-Mobile coverage in her area is very good. She got a good deal with T-Mobile and switching even without the ETF payment was a better deal.
iPhone Phans Have a Tougher Choice
Subsidized smartphone owners, you are paying for your smartphone in your plan. If you are happy with your service and like what you have, you may want to wait. At some point in the near future we suspect that carriers will abandon the subsidized pricing model. When the pricing is more transparent, you more easily be able to make a decision.
If you have a high-end iPhone 5S with 64GB from Verizon Wireless and an grandgfathered unlimited data plan, it could cost you more to switch to T-Mobile.
Sprint also started offering its Framily plan which will discuss in another article. The service is best for family or friend groups the best deal requires 7 people to be the cheapest. Individuals will not save much.
However, if you pay a less expensive device from T-Mobile, you save money in the long run. Say for example you buy a Nokia Lumia 925 for $20 a month over 24 months your monthly payments will be lower and you will save money. However an APple iPhone 5S costs $199 up front and $25 a month for the next 24 months and a $10 SIM starter kit.
500MB Simple Choice T-Mobile plans start at $50 a month for unlimited voice and text. 2.5GB runs $60 and unlimited data is $70 a month. For $80 a month with the family plan two lines get unlimited talk/text and 500MB a month. (Buy Family Plan: 4 lines. $100) For $100 a month a family of four gets unlimited talk/text and 500MB data each a month. For $110 a month a family of five gets unlimited talk/text and 500MB data each a month.
The best deals from T-Mobile are the ones where you have to read the fine print. If you are a non-data user, your options every where are fantastic. Where the carriers are placing their profits is on the data. T-Mobile has a web only deal with unlimited text and voice for $30 a month which you have to comb through the T-Mobile website to find it or buy it from Walmart. We used to be able to easily find the web only option and it has gotten more difficult to find.
There are also bundle deals when you buy to Samsung Galaxy S 4 and save $96 and unlimited 4G data and calling for $120 a month or $48 Off Samsung Galaxy S IIIor you can also check for Check out web-exclusive deals from T-Mobile.com which change sometimes.
Next we go through the Framily plan and see how it works out.