People 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.