T-Mobile’s New UNcarrier Model Introduces “UN-BEATABLE” Trade-In Options

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T-Mobile’s UNcarrier model is set to bring a host of sweeping changes to the way T-Mobile does business, of that we’re already beginning to notice. Along with new Value rate plans, T-Mobile is introducing a new trade-in program with two separate options in the hopes of knocking down some of that shock value from Value Plan handset pricing.

So let’s break this down into the two options customers will have with trade-ins in the coming weeks:

1. In-Store: As a customer you will give up the device in-store and receive and instant discount equal to the trade-in value of your old device. You can accept any dollar offer and turn the phone in immediately. As a customer you will also be able to choose between a pre-paid debit card or having the phone value applied to your equipment installment balance credit. The last option for trade-in balances is to use the trade-in balance as a credit toward their monthly statement.

2. Defer: Customers can receive the quoted offer for the value of the device and then take a two-week timeframe to decide their course of action. Customers will have those two weeks to decide if this wish to keep their phone or use it with the trade-in program. Customers can also use the deferred option and ultimately choose to use the trade-in balance as a credit toward their monthly statement.

Customers choosing bill credits will see the credit appear around 2-3 bill cycles after their purchase.

Here’s the answer to the question I’m sure many of you are asking that I can’t answer yet: the phones value will be applied to the EIP (equipment installment balance), of that we’re certain. However, the remaining question is how that dollar credit will apply, will it A) lower your monthly payment or B) instead of paying for 24 months, will the lower balance mean you only have to pay 16 months?

Like a lot of the UNcarrier information, we’re missing some pieces here and there so take everything at face value until we can get a complete picture from T-Mobile herself — whenever they make these new plans public.

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  • jimkenobi

    The EIP is 20 months, not 24 . The math gets fuzzy after 20 installments.

    • just me

      There will be a new eip option to spread it over 24 months instead of 20.

      • Dion Mac

        I know the value of phones and how to get top dollar for it, but I can see how the average consumer would see this as a benefit, especially with 14 days to get what you need out of your old phone!

    • It’s going to be 24 months. 25 with the down payment.

      • Dion Mac

        Really -__- ???

        Those 4 months without an EIP payment was a good selling point. Sho glad I don’t work there anymore!

      • Dakota

        So isn’t it that you’d only save money off you keep the phone fit over 24 months? That’s when your dee would go down $20 or whatever. If b you

    • tmoman4life


  • I will maybe use that when I’m ready to upgrade in the summer around June, or I might just sale my HTC One S. Idk.

  • just me

    It’s cool that this option will exist, but I’m not a big fan. In my mind, it’s just another way for a middle man to make obscene profit. Plus I can already hear the complaints now … “What do you mean my Galaxy S III is only worth 120 bucks?? It’s a 600 dollar phone!!” Still, I suppose it may be worth it to people that are too lazy or don’t have the time to sell their old phones on Craigslist or ebay.

    • Dion Mac

      Its like a new car, once you drive it off the lot, it depreciates a good 15% within that 3 second pull off!

      • Dion Mac


      • OSK

        LOL that’s 100% true !

    • xmiro

      Ebay? and how much are they going to get for the phone on Ebay after all the fees and shipping

      • just me

        Still more than these trade-in offers. In most cases, much much more

      • Shawndh

        You an get way more money on eBay. I just sold an old Windows Phone 7 device (HTC Surround) for $90 without the charger. I’m pretty sure T-mobile would have only offered me about $15 to $20 for the phone.

      • Bklynman

        You would be surprise how much old phones sell on eBay,you can get anywhere $50-100,for Nokia 5230,you can charge them shipping.The last time I check the Nokia 7510 was going for about $50 use in good condition.

    • Dakota

      Doubtful T-Mobile would offer you a generous trade in price vs other methods

      • aj

        Go check out Sprints buy back option. They offered me $351 for my unlocked iphone 5 64gb.

    • I agree. I tried swappa a few times, and I dealt with some pretty weird & sketchy people. That’s why I considered T-Mobile themselves.

  • Jay

    More like who would actually take such a hit on the value of the phone by giving it to tmobile. You can get more then double on ebay. Its like those stupid commercials I see on TV, asking for used iphones and giving them cash.

    • Dion Mac

      They are on TV which they spend good money to be on so you better believe people are selling there their old phones for half value. Its like a convenience fee for some people. In fact most people do not know who to sell a thing on ebay. Just saying.

    • 21stNow

      This could work for people like me, who don’t deal with Ebay and craigslist.

    • xmiro

      TMobile hasn’t gone live with this option yet and you already know you can get double for your phone on Ebay?

  • whiteiphoneproblems

    Who would ever just turn their old phone over in the store? At the very least, you’ll want to hang onto it for few weeks as a fallback, in case the new one stinks; and also to do a proper reset/storage wipe on your own time, etc.

    • Dion Mac

      Plenty of people are not has smart as you.

    • 21stNow

      Some people have more than one backup phone so turning one over to T-Mobile wouldn’t be a problem.

    • xmiro

      Come on now how many people perform reset/storage wipe?!

      • fentonr

        At my store, none. The trade ins we get we wipe of course, only ever had one customer even request for it to be wiped though.

      • Larry

        I once got a refurb phone from sprint and it had someone elses voicemails still saved on the phone. Hysterical!

        • I bought my HTC sensation from an ex T-mobile store manager. Still had company emails, and pdfs about store sales and employees. Lots of confidential information. Pictures or his vacation..never wiped the phone or microSD. He had left and was now a manager for an apple store so I guess he didnt care, but still…

    • JointhePredacons

      yea because anyone who gets the phone is going to look at your pictures and contacts, the first thing theyd do is wipe and reset the phone. Duh

  • urmom

    Wow. Tmobile is slipping up.

    • Dion Mac

      Im not disagreeing that they are slipping, but I’m not sure why I would agree that they are. Care to explain?

    • Let’s see:

      Acquired Metro PCS.

      Launching the first No-Contract postpaid business in the US.

      Secured a deal with Apple.

      Is currently the #1 Samsung operator in the US and usually the first to launch Galaxy products.

      Offers the most value of the big 4.

      If this is the definition of “slipping up,” then let them keep on slipping!

  • ceegii63

    because eBay and Craigslist cant beat this deal from Tmo

  • DJ Lawless Oneâ„¢

    Just use swappa.com

  • When this rolls out all the way, I expect that alot of people will be singing a different tune. Most customers can barely find the power button on their phone. It’s all about options, nobody is going to make you give over your phone and you have time to think about it. #putdownthehaterade

  • Deihmos

    I have a value plan but had to agree to a contract to get it. Shouldn’t value plans be contract free? Will this new plan change it .

    • Bratty

      They are. Look for an earlier post on this topic, on this site.

      • Roger

        I also got a value plan in June last year and brought my own phone. They required a two year contract. Can you provide the link or search term? I only recall new ones being non-contract not existing customers. I can’t find any contract details in the web interface.

        What I really want to do is switch to that $30 plan (100 minutes, 5GB data) and keep my number but they new activations only.

        • Dakota

          If you weren’t on a contract maybe you could switch to a prepaid like StraightTalk for a month then you will be a ‘new customer’ for that WM place. Hopefully part of UNcarrier will mean not discriminating again their existing customers and giving them same deals as newbies. I’ve never understood that policy

        • Bratty

          Roger, my bad. I was referring to the new upcoming plans. Sorry.

    • just me

      Value Plans are not contract-free. But, beginning March 24th, the new plans(which I’ve only seen referred to as “UNcarrier” plans so far) will be.

    • Larry

      Is there anything official that says value plan contracts will end? In the earlier post it says ” It appears that our report from last Friday has panned out completely
      and T-Mobile will in fact cut contracts for Value Plan postpaid
      customers.”. I just activated 4 lines on a 1000 minute family value plan last week, March 5th.

      • just me

        You’ll be grandfathered in to that rate plan, but after March 24 customers will be unable to activate or change to any other rate plan aside from these “uncarrier” plans(except for a few states where eip is unavailable- in those states classic plans/subsidized phones will still be available for now).

        • just me

          Also, contracts that are already in effect will not be cancelled.

      • Darren Chan

        If you signed a contract, you will fulfill that contract and then your contract will end. When it does. Tmobile has even more plus before and ppl who switched to that just rode their existing contracts out. When these new plans kick in, it doesn’t end your existing contract. It will just not add any time to that contact.

  • superdry

    Hmm…I’ll be moving over to T-mobile after my Verizon contract is over. This might be a good thing to use to quickly get rid of my slowly turning into a paperweight Thunderbolt.

    I would also just pay off the phone and then switch to monthly4g afterwards.

    • conservative_motorcyclist

      you don’t have to…just get the value plan! no contract!

      • superdry

        The $30 monthly4g plan with 100min/ultd txt/5gb data is perfect for me. But, yes, the new value plans would be pretty good.

  • jack- store rep

    David as a rep I can tell you the credit if applied to the bill lower payments its not a lump sum. Also eip is being extended to 24 months.

    • Levron

      As a rep, do you know if we will still get subsidized phones if we decide to stick with our grandfathered classic plans after March 24? If not, I should probably pick up a phone before than at a subsidized price right?

      • ColoradoGray

        You should do just that if you still want a subsidy. They shouldn’t require you to change your current plan, but no more subsidized phones or contract extension.

  • Mike

    I went to the Samsung web site that offers a similar trade in program. I entered a Samsung Galaxy S2 and the result was a whooping 67 bucks. Remember this phone is being offered by tmo at more than $400. Geez, I could sell the phone on Craig’s list for 250 possible more (clean imei). I sure hope that Tmo is generous to help people to make the transition to full priced equipment.

    • OnlineRefugee

      Trading in phones with the carrier is always a lousy deal. The deals are geared toward those who don’t know squat about phones. To these “lambs showing up for slaughter” they have no idea what a phone is worth (on eBay or elsewhere). So when T-Mobile offers them $100 for a like-new SGS III, these people comment at the time “wow, I did not know it was worth that much.”

  • Vatoloco

    A very close friend of mine works for apple USA and she says that tmobile won’t be the “un-carrier” for much longer…

    • Mirad77

      Can you be any vague?

  • lifeisgreat4all

    Will i turn in my NEXUS 4 for the little money T-mobile will offer????? no way
    It might be good for those people who can afford new phones easily and don’t care about the older phones after a 6 month use. Like HTC is giving upto $100.00 for any previously used phone….does it really make any sense??? It might help if after two years of use you can get some credit toward the new phone…REPUBLIC WIRELESS has even better idea but no better phones. Cant wait to get official details from T-mobile

  • Piotr Madej

    Yeah I am going to have to pass, I will keep my classic plan

    • TechHog


    • ummmmmm

      you cant do basic math bro?

      • 21stNow

        I’m going to give Piotr the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is referring to a legacy plan, not an actual Classic plan.

      • mike

        I agree ummmmm. People dont understand the economics. Ending phone subsidies saves money. 480 dollars just for the plan its self over a two year timeframe.

    • Bklynman

      I agree with Piotr,why,when my contract is up,if I switch to value,my savings would whopping $10.00 a month. If I keep the same plan.Thank you,but no thank you.

  • monchis

    I really love the route t-mobile is heading. Their decisions for showing they care about their customers + business is very apparent. I cannot wait for the future. I just hope consumers understand the policy’s because I feel at the end of the day, this is the responsibility of their employee’s. A good example is Forever21, yes I am referring to a retail clothing company, they ask as soon as they start your transaction “are you aware of our return policy”

  • pamma

    So should someone use the available phone upgrade available to get phone at discount and extend contract before the plans change to avoid paying full price of the phone? If someone does this, can they then change plans to the new plans?

    • Leec

      if you upgrade on a classic plan you will be stuck on a classic plan paying more per month. Think about what really matters, the cost of a phone out of pocket and your monthly payment. the new un-carrier will be the better option even with paying full price on eip.

  • M42

    This is a scam. You’re still going to be under contract with T-Mobile unless you pay cash outright for your new phone. Find a $600 phone you like; they’re going to finance it and bill you in monthly increments. And oh, by the way, that requires a two year contract, except that it won’t be called that. Remember, they don’t have service contracts anymore. But try and go someplace else during that two year period and you’ll find out very quickly that nothing has changed in terms of what you have to pay to get your freedom.

    • thepanttherlady

      No one is forcing anyone to finance a phone let alone a $600 phone. Bring your own or buy it out right and leave when/if you want.

      • 1stGenRex

        Right! My guess is that your “ETF” would just be to pay the remainder of the balance, and then you leave. It’s not that far fetched of an assumption.

        • brandonjaye

          But these are guesses. And they seem equal to both the carrier and the customer. When was the last time there was any carrier plan like that? Odds are, you’ll see some sort of fee to leave before the allotted ETF time is over. I mean, for someone who’d charge you $200 per line to get out of a contract even if you brought your own phone, Cell phone carriers are not exactly known for being fair.

        • 1stGenRex

          Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that the whole idea of being the “Un-Carrier”? Doing something different than carriers in the US currently do?

        • Whiskers

          Your ETF will be the balance of your EIP .

    • Whiskers

      Do you really think they are going to finance a $600.00 phone with zero interest and let you walk away a few months later ?
      You will only be required to pay off your phone , then you can leave anytime after that.
      If you don’t like 0% financing go buy your phone somewhere else and you won’t be under any obligations.

  • 1stGenRex

    This may be a bit off topic, but the whole Un-Carrier plan MUST have a better selection of phones than what TMo currently carries. I’ve been with TMobile for over 7 years now, and they’ve ALWAYS sort of lagged behind in phone selection.

    If I’m going to pay full price for a phone, I better be able to select from quite a few, otherwise, this deal is going to fall on it’s face.

    • thepanttherlady

      Not sure what phone you’re looking for but so far it seems there will be some great options this year. :)

      • 1stGenRex

        This is quite recent though, and most times in the past, phones weren’t readily available at release, and you have to wait a few months for them to even be in store.

        • 21stNow

          So T-Mobile is moving in the right direction, no?

        • 1stGenRex


    • So let’s see:

      iPhone? Check.
      Samsung Galaxy S IV? Check.
      HTC One? Check.
      Blackberry 10? Check

      Pureview Nokia Lumia rumored to be coming in the summer? Check.

      …so you were saying?

      • 1stGenRex

        They have these already? Wow, looks like they went the opposite way, and are now starting to have phones that aren’t even out yet!

  • tomarone

    What are the ‘new value rate plans’?

  • rfgenerator

    hmmmm, financed installments… low balled trade ins…. T-Mobile as the “uncarrier”? maybe, but sounds more each day like a used car dealer…

  • TJBodden

    You’d be amazed at how much they appraise phones. We did a test of this in store and they were offering up to a $250 limit for people with iphone 4s. Not a bad idea for tmobile to do again. I think it will improve theur business.

  • 20/20

    Has anyone seen those machines in malls where you take old devices to trade in for actual cash?!? I’ve seen it on the news.. you put the device inside and it has a camera that recognizes what type of device it is and then gives you an estimate. You can accept it and it dispenses money. It works even for broken devices.

  • Cpt. Awesome

    Just read over at Android Authority that the credit isn’t a Visa card, it’s INSTANT!! There’s screenshots too!

  • elite

    So how do people upgrade their phones after the 24th if you are currently on a Classic plan and waiting for the BB Z10? Would you have to change your plan to value?