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AT&T vs. T-Mobile Switch Incentives Explained

by Todd Haselton | January 8, 2014January 8, 2014 4:00 pm PST

AT&T T-Mobile

T-Mobile today introduced its new “UnCarrier 4.0” approach that incentivizes customers to move from Sprint, Verizon or AT&T over to its network. T-Mobile is offering up to $650 to make the switch. Meanwhile, AT&T introduced a similar incentive last week that it hopes will attract customers away from T-Mobile, and it’s offering up to $450. It might sound a bit confusing, so we’ll clear things up a bit for you.

Here’s what AT&T is doing: if you’re a T-Mobile customer, you can walk into an AT&T store and ask to switch. Usually, you might have to pay an early termination fee to make that change if you’re under a contract. AT&T is offering a gift card worth up to $250 for a T-Mobile smartphone trade-in, and will then give you a $200 credit for each line you move over. To take advantage of this deal, you need to either bring your own device and buy a phone at full cost, or sign up for AT&T’s early upgrade Next plans. Either way, whether your turn in a phone or not, you get $200.

Here’s what T-Mobile is doing: if you’re a Sprint, Verizon or AT&T customer, you can walk into a T-Mobile store and ask to switch. You’ll get up to $300 for your smartphone (and that $300 is probably only for the latest and greatest devices like the iPhone 5s), plus $350 toward your early termination fee. This can be done for each line on a family account, or by any individual line. T-Mobile, meanwhile, requires that you either trade-in your own device and sign up for a new Simple Choice plan. You don’t need to sign up for T-Mobile’s JUMP plan — the plan that competes with AT&T’s Next — though that’s an option if you device that’s the right option for you.

Who did it first? AT&T. Who offers the better plan? That’s up for you to decide, and it will ultimately depend on how much T-Mobile is willing to pay for your handset. If you have an older one, you might not want to leave your carrier because T-Mobile won’t be offering the full $300 for an old phone. Still, you’ll get your early termination fee paid for.

T-Mobile and AT&T are at one another’s throats right now, though it’s clear that the competition is helping create more choice for consumers. If you’re upset with T-Mobile and want to move to AT&T, you now have an easier way to do so. If you’re on another carrier and want to move to T-Mobile, it’s easier than ever. Consumers win either way.

Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...