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Cell phone providers' complicated and ever-changing terms of service can be actually be useful in a situation like this. Likewise, if you call customer service saying you can't get decent coverage in your area, you might be able to get out of the ETF. You're a VIP to wireless providers, who want to steal as many subscribers from other carriers as possible. Editor's Note: Sprint has discontinued its One Up plan and no longer offers an early-upgrade option.
In July 2013, T-Mobile introduced Jump, a plan that lets you upgrade your smartphone to a new model or brand twice a year without having to pay extravagant up-front costs.
If you love to use the latest and greatest technology, an early-upgrade plan from your favorite cell phone provider can seem like an incredible deal. Before we compare early-upgrade cell phone plans, it's important to know where your money's going in your current plan. People sign two-year contracts so the carriers will subsidize the cost of their pricey smartphones.
Where contract plans have you pay the subsidized cost of a new phone up front, early upgrade plans have you pay the full price of a phone, split into monthly charges over two years.
This is where the differences between the major carriers start to matter, and it becomes clear that a good deal of price gouging is going on.
In their One Up plan, Sprint provides a $15 monthly discount to your bill, which can help reduce the overall impact of the phone charge.
Among the four cell phone companies that have early upgrade plans, T-Mobile is the only one that doesn't offer long-term contracts. T-Mobile's Jump is an extra option you can add on to your service for $10 a month that allows you, up to twice a year, to trade in your current phone for a new one. Depending on the features you're comparing, Sprint's One Up and T-Mobile's Jump vie for the title of cheapest early-upgrade plan. As you can see, the difference between T-Mobile and Sprint is negligible (and will vary for you, depending on the specifics of the plans you get, the features you decide to add, and so forth). Every early-upgrade plan will end up costing you more over time than a regular plan would from the same provider.
With T-Mobile, wea€™ll cover your switching fees when you trade in your phone so you can break free from your old carrier with its costly overage charges and restrictive service contracts. Wea€™ll guarantee your rates as long as youa€™re our customer, all without the restrictions of signing a long-term contract. T-Mobile was the first to offer device payoff help for customers who switch and wea€™re not about to stop.
Find out and accept the trade-in value of your current device(s) within 14 days of your purchase. ETF stands for Early Termination Fee which is the fee charged by carriers to cancel your service before your contract expires. Examples of eligible device payment plans are Verizona€™s EDGE program, AT&Ta€™s NEXT or Sprinta€™s Easy Pay Program. Individuals and families (up to 12 lines) who are currently under a postpaid contract or a device payment plan and have an account in good standing at any domestic carrier. Individuals and families who can take advantage of this offer (see above) are eligible for Early Termination Fee (ETF) reimbursement for up to 10 lines. Transfer your number(s) online, trade in your phone(s) and tablet(s) online and receive a bill credit based on the market value for your eligible device.
In order to qualify for this ETF offer, you must be switching from a postpaid plan on a contract with another carrier and port your current numbers to T-Mobile. When customers trade in their device, it is really a win-win for both the customer and T-Mobile.
A customer must switch from a postpaid plan with another domestic carrier and port their current numbers to T-Mobile.

You can find the wireless number associated with your tablet on your bill or by calling your carrier.
We require the final bill because only the final bill discloses the actual amount of your ETF or current device payment plan balance.
First, you must have traded in your previous device and ported your number when you activated a new account with T-Mobile.
You must submit your final bill showing cancellation fees within 2 calendar months of your new T-Mobile activation. Do I have to submit every page of my final bill with my previous carrier to qualify for reimbursement? You have 60 days (or two calendar months) from your date of activation at T-Mobile to submit your request either online or via mail-in form. As your contract likely states, if company fails or violates any of the terms of the contract, you could be entitled to leave--without paying the early termination fee. That means you'll often find incentive offers for you to switch that include paying for the early termination fee. It was a significant addition to T-Mobile's lineup, and it got a lot of attention, especially from smartphone fans who were tired of waiting two years between upgrades. If you were to buy a 16GB iPhone 5s and sign a two-year contract, you'd pay $199 out-of-pocket. This monthly cost gets added to your phone bill, but you don't have to run through the full 24-month period before you can pick another phone. Both AT&T and Verizon add the monthly cost of early-upgrade phones on top of your basic monthly service charge. It doesn't subsidize phones and, as a result, its regular monthly plans are as much as $40 cheaper than comparable plans at Verizon, AT&T and Sprint. T-Mobile's Jump is more expensive than Sprint's One Up, but it comes with free phone insurance and 2GB of dedicated tethering data – you'd have to pay extra for that with Sprint. First, let's look at the two-year cost for basic service plans with each carrier – two years being how long you'd usually have to wait between phone upgrades.
This essentially means that, with Sprint, you could get a second phone over a two-year period and pay just $77 more. And, while they may not be contract plans, each of these early-upgrade options locks you into service with a single company. You're already paying a lot more than you would at other carriers so you can use a superior network, but under an early-upgrade plan you'd spend an extra $400 on top of that.
Ita€™s just one reason why more people have switched to T-Mobile in 2015 than to any other carrier.
If youa€™re ready to switch to T-Mobile, wea€™ll cover your remaining phone payments with a trade-in credit and Prepaid MasterCardA® card. Wea€™ll pay your Early Termination Fees with a Prepaid MasterCardA® Carda€”so you can switch today. You would need to trade-in a mobile phone or tablet and purchase a new device with T-Mobile on a qualifying postpaid Simple Choice plan (you would not be able to sign up for a T-Mobile prepaid or Simple Choice Family Plan with no credit check). For the device payment plan, as long as that tablet was financed on a device payment plan that is in good standing, it is eligible for trade-in and reimbursement. A device trade-in provides consumers some initial credit to help with new device purchase or startup costs like down payment, devices taxes, or accessories.
In fact, this is an even bigger deal for families because often times they have to pay two, three or four times more in early termination fees or device payment plan balances than individuals and have to contend with staggered contract expiration dates. The customer will need to trade in an eligible smartphone or tablet and purchase a new device with T-Mobile on a qualifying postpaid Simple Choicea„? plan. You can either upload a copy if you get an e-bill from your previous carrier, or you can scan or take a picture(s) of the page(s) with this information and upload the image online. Eligible device trade-in, new device purchase, qualifying credit, port-in from eligible carriers, and qualifying service required.

It's a win-win-win situation (for you and that person, and the wireless provider still gets the monthly payments). Verizon and AT&T were quick to offer their own versions of the plan, followed most recently by Sprint. The full retail price of that phone is $649, but you don't have to pay it because the carrier covers the difference. Instead, after between six months and one year (depending on the cell phone provider), you can trade your phone in for a different one and start a new two-year payment plan. However, that original monthly charge is exactly the same amount you'd be paying if you were in a two-year contract – an amount that incorporates the cost of subsidized phones into its price.
Since phones aren't subsidized at T-Mobile, you have to pay their full price, but the provider offers monthly payment plans. You don't owe the remaining value of your old phone, regardless of how long it's been since you first got it. First, we're assuming you're upgrading your phone after the first year of this two-year period. T-Mobile's plan is over $300 more expensive than its regular plan over the same period, though you get phone insurance and tethering as part of the deal, and can upgrade twice a year instead of once. After all, every time you upgrade, you commit yourself to another two years of monthly payments.
If you're a Sprint or T-Mobile customer or are thinking of switching to them, the benefits of their early upgrade plans are much more worthwhile. Then when you submit the bill from your carrier for the device payoff, you will receive a Prepaid MasterCardA® Card for your remaining device payment plan balance minus your phonea€™s trade-in value. For ETFs, we will cover your ETF up to $350 per mobile Internet line when you trade-in your tablet. With this offer, families can make the switch to T-Mobile all at once without worrying about those kinds of challenges (up to 10 lines). Most often this is listed as a a€?Early Termination Feea€? or a€?Contract Termination Feea€?. You'll need to keep an eye on these (even small) changes in your contract to be able to take advantage of this.
This means, in effect, you're paying for your phone twice over: once as part of the basic service charge in whatever talk, text and data plan you sign up for, and the other as an additional monthly charge based on the overall retail price of the phone. You pay an up-front cost that varies based on your credit rating, then pay the remainder on a month-to-month basis over the next two years. We're assuming in our comparisons that you're buying a new smartphone when you start, and will use the iPhone 5s price for our example.
Second, T-Mobile's Jump plan offers phone insurance and tethering data, features that aren't incorporated into the prices of the other plans, because they don't come standard with the early upgrade option.
There are only two ways to get out of those payments before the two years are up: upgrade to a different phone and start the process over again, or pay off the remaining balance on your current phone in one fell swoop. Payments consist of: (1) credit of device trade-in value, and (2) Prepaid MasterCardA® Card in amount of carriera€™s Early Termination Fee (for ETF offer) or remaining device balance, including lease purchase option if applicable, minus trade-in credit (for device offer) (card not redeemable for cash and expires in 12 months unless extended by Issuer). In practice, customers' monthly bills can be significantly cheaper with T-Mobile than with the other major carriers, even when incorporating the price of a phone payment plan. On the other hand, if T-Mobile's free phone insurance and hotspot tethering appeals to you, you'll get a better deal with them than with anyone else.
Up to 12 lines; all lines must be activated in same T-Mobile market with same billing address.

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