T-Mobile US CEO John Legere announced on-stage at CES 2014 in Las Vegas that T-Mobile will pay customers to come to its network.
With its new "Get Out of Jail Free Card" programme, T-Mobile will eliminate an obstacle for people wanting to switch from AT&T, Sprint or Verizon to the Un-carrier by offering to pay off their early termination fees which in some cases can become more than $250. With an eligible phone trade-in, the total value of the offer to switch to T-Mobile could be as high as $650 per line, according to the carrier.
The sums break down like this: an instant credit of up to $300 is awarded when you trade-in your phone, and then up to another $350 is awarded when you prove you have ended your contract elsewhere. Essentially, T-Mobile is buying you off another carrier, while at the same time giving you a new phone, considering an unlocked Nexus 5 is only $300.
“We’re giving families a 'Get Out of Jail Free Card',” said Legere. “Carriers have counted on staggered contract end dates and hefty early termination fees to keep people bound to them forever. But now families can switch to T-Mobile without paying a single red cent to leave them behind.”
To qualify for the credit, customers switching to T-Mobile will have to show documentation that they left a carrier and paid an early termination fee. The customer will also have to buy a new phone through T-Mobile.
T-Mobile, the fourth-largest US carrier, has been trying to shake up the wireless industry stateside by ditching the usual two-year phone contract and letting customers pay as they go. Last year the company added 4.4 million customers to its network, as it works to regain market share. And in the last quarter alone, the carrier added 1.6 million net customers - its best quarter performance in eight years. The Samsung Galaxy S4 was its most popular phone sold.
Legere and Co have been aggressive with their new Un-carrier approach. Under the Un-carrier plan customers pay full price for a handset at time of purchase or $149 (£65) up front with $20 a month in payments for the next 24 months. Using the iPhone 5S as an example, that will round out to $619 over two years, or $20 cheaper than Apple's unlocked version. Once the payment period is up, the phone is unlocked and yours to take to any carrier.
Similarly, AT&T announced in early January that it will offer new customers $200 credit to switch to its service on top of a phone trade-in that could be worth another $250.