Trending: Exclusive: Archaeologists confirm contested tale of the Crusades, 920 years after battle

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 9.17.48 AMPeople who want free phones have been out of luck with T-Mobile ever since the carrier did away with wireless contracts in 2013. Instead of subsidizing the up-front cost of a phone and then recouping that cost through a higher-priced monthly plan, T-Mobile asks customers to pay a certain amount every month towards the full price of their device.

Now, T-Mobile is changing its tune a bit by offering people the chance to pay $5 a month and get their next phone for free or at a steep discount. The company announced a new program called Score today that will reward people for paying that monthly fee with a better price on a new handset. People who pay for Score for 6 months (for a total of $30) will get an “entry-level 4G smartphone” for free, like the Alcatel Onetouch Evolve, which usually sells for $80 to postpaid customers.

Those folks who choose to wait a full 12 months on Score (spending a total of $60 above their normal smartphone plan) can get a mid-level smartphone like the LG Optimus L90 for free (it usually retails for almost $170), or get a discount of up to $150 on a flagship phone like the Nexus 6.

Score is available for both prepaid and post-paid smartphone customers. That’s important, because the ability to pick up a free phone at the time of upgrading will likely appeal to people who are also using prepaid cell service. Today’s announcement comes less than a week after T-Mobile said that it would stop running credit checks on customers who have a longstanding record of paying their bill on time.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


Job Listings on GeekWork

Find more jobs on GeekWork. Employers, post a job here.