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T-Mobile Ads Confirm UnCarrier 4 Plans: Pay ETFs for Families Who Transfer

This evening, hours before T-Mobile takes the stage at CES 2014 for UnCarrier part 4, an ad popping up on tech sites has essentially confirmed part of the program. According to the ad – which we have included below – T-Mobile will pay “your family’s termination fees when you trade in your devices.” This news may sound familiar since it has been rumored for weeks as T-Mobile’s next “pain point” to tackle. 

The ad doesn’t mention all of the details, but does say in the fine print that “Qual’g service & device purchase with port-in from AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint req’d. Up to 5 lines.” In other words, T-Mobile will pay Early Termination Fees (ETF) from your previous carrier, as long as you trade-in your current phones and then sign-up for service, plus purchase a new device.

Here is the ad (links to this dead page):


Sources of ours have mentioned that T-Mobile will pay up to $350 per family when they bring over at least 3 lines.

This should all sound familiar. AT&T announced last week a very similar plan. They will pay T-Mobile customers up to $450 for transferring their service over to AT&T. There are catches of course, which include trading in phones and signing up for AT&T’s Next program. T-Mobile CEO John Legere called the move “desperate.”

We are expecting there to be announcements out of UnCarrier part 4 tomorrow, plus we should get the full details of this move. The event kicks off at 12:30PM Pacific. We will be in attendance, so be sure to hang with us all day.

Cheers Jackson!
  • KLifeguard42

    Not only do you have to look at the trade in value of the devices but you also need to consider that they are only offering 500 mb (which is less than half of a gigabyte) of the 4G LTE speeds where on Verizon if you have a 5 GB plan, that full 5 GB is on 4G LTE speeds. That may be something consumers do not realize.

  • What are ATT and T Mobile going to do to retain its “current customers”.
    I’ve noticed with ATT aggressively offers all sorts of incentives to the Newbies, but the current customers get stuck
    So ATT whata gonna do for me

  • TakinLzSince91


  • tmo employ

    none of you know what you’re talking about. you have to submit your last bill with your ETF. it’s per line and you get a MasterCard with the money on it in a few weeks.

  • whoopsOhMy

    What are ATT and T Mobile going to do to retain its “current customers”.
    I’ve noticed with ATT aggressively offers all sorts of incentives to the Newbies, but the current customers get stuck
    So ATT whata gonna do for me

  • Robert Macri

    Why not just switch an old phone to your current verizon plan, trade that in to T-Mo and then sell your current high end phone?

  • mraz

    I guess this depends on your current situation. Most people on the site have high end phones so this might not appeal. In my case im a phone enthusiast but cant afford to replace my phone often. Im stuck with a family plan for 4 people sharing 6GB of data on Verizon, we go over the 6GB constantly! Two lines are month to month as their contracts have expired the other two would cost about 500 bucks to cancel. The phones are two old Galaxy Nexus an incredible and a “dumb phone”. So just to save money and perhaps grab a new phone this seems like an ok option. Any suggestions?

    • TakinLzSince91

      T-Mobile has JUMP upgrade with no money down every 6 months

  • chris125

    Eh this isn’t really that good of a deal. I could sell my phones, pay off the ETF and still pocket some cash. Plus TMO coverage is lacking in many areas. How about increasing your coverage, rather than trying to buy customers. If you have good coverage, the customers will come, just ask verizon.

  • Grayson Carr

    So much for uncarrier. This is just as lame as what AT&T is offering. I have a high end unlocked phone that would already work on T-Mobile. Why would I want to give it to T-Mo for them to pay my $250-$350 ETF, and then turn around and buy the same phone from T-Mobile for $500?

  • tt

    This is a Joke from Tmobile. Ok, here my Iphone 5s and $700 to switch to Tmobile. What do you save from that?

    • Adrynalyne

      That is like trading in a Porsche for a Chevy Cruze. I am certain car dealers would let you do it. At some point, the person doing it needs to have accountability and common sense.

      Makes no sense in your scenario. Instead, sell the 5s, pocket the difference between the sell and your ETF.
      Makes perfect sense for someone with a feature phone or low end smartphone.

      • DougVK

        Actually it makes no sense for feature phones, are they are EXCLUDED from this deal.

  • TylerCameron

    The big problem is they make you buy a phone from them, why? The vast majority of idiots will do an installment plan, which will make their bill just as expensive as with Verizon or AT&T. I fail to see the point in requiring the people to buy the phone from T-Mobile.

    • Grayson Carr

      Yup. And them requiring you to trade in your old phone is stupid as well. It’s fine as an option, but this does nothing for those of us who have high end unlocked phones on AT&T that would work on T-Mobile already (think Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Moto X GSM Unlocked, HTC One Unlocked, etc.).

  • Mayoo

    Unrealted but poor people in that building. The only light they get is pink.

  • Bob G

    So, AT&T jumped T-Mobile with the same plan but added $100 and Legerre won’t up his end?

    • Grayson Carr

      Seriously. The way Legerre was bashing AT&T I thought their deal would be better. Alas, it is not. It’s worse.

      • TakinLzSince91

        AT&T is way worse the T-mobile any day..

  • afazel

    Eh. $350 per family wouldn’t do me much good, but then again we tried T-Mobile a few months ago and it was mostly useless for us, unfortunately. Sprint works as well here as Verizon ever did, though.

  • enigmaco

    Oh how I want to go back to t-mobile again I miss unlimited data and they have faster speeds than verizon does in my area.

  • Razball

    Can’t wait to see if they offer anything else.

  • trophynuts

    what about the other “pain point”? Which is the fact that your damn phone won’t work on Turd Mobile unless your in one of 14 places in the US?

    • Adrynalyne

      Turd Mobile, how original.

    • TakinLzSince91

      Did you come up with “Turd Mobile” all by yourself? Funny thing is about your comment, my T-Mobile service is much better then my Sprint coverage is, and offers WiFi Txting and Calling…

  • jay

    This is awseome. I have an old thunderbolt that I can re-activate on my verizon account to trade/give to T-mobile. I can then keep my S4 for resale 🙂

    • Daistaar

      Pretty sure it’s gonna be limited to certain phones. lol

  • Turb0wned

    Buy some Moto G’s and trade those into T-Mobile then sell your current AT&T phones if they are worth more than $350.

    • Grayson Carr

      Lumia 520 GoPhones would be better for AT&T customers. They can be found for $60 new and work on AT&T.

  • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

    If you’re giving up your phone….. you’re already paying the damn ETF…. I don’t think ETF is a big deal for most people outside tech, since most people don’t dump contracts midway… Especially on a family plan. And unless you’re looking to dump your contract within the first month when the ETF is still $350 this doesn’t even make much sense.

    If you’re halfway into your contract and you’re tired of your carrier the ETF is already half. Tmobile isn’t doing much if you’re giving up your phone.

    • Adam

      The problem with my family and Verizon is that nobody is on the same cycle as far as I know. I could be wrong, but I believe each one of us started a new contract at different times, so I could switch us all over when my line is up for renewal but then I have to pay the ETF for my wife and mother-in-law, or I can wait till everyone is past the 2 year mark which might be another 12-16 months. I certainly could do it, but it would require buying full price devices in the meantime if I wanted to upgrade anyone’s tech and a lot of planning and hassle. If they remove that problem then I am much more likely to switch.

  • Brian Menius

    I was able to get T-Mobile to kick in about that amount ($350) when I moved three lines over from Verizon in November 2012 at a cost of $780 in termination fees. After offloading the devices I had at the time (mom’s old 4S, wife’s Droid 3, my Galaxy Nexus), I broke just about even on the ETFs. Sure, I had to buy three new phones at full price, but the S3 was on sale at the time. My payback period on this decision was less than a year.

  • Josh P.

    All i hear is “We’ll pay you 1/3 of what you need to leave your carrier to come to us to figure out that you’ll have no service once you go anywhere where it isn’t concrete.”

    • Daistaar

      Glass half empty? It’s a new year dude. Turn that frown upside down! 😛

    • …but you’ll likely save over $100 per month on service. To me, my $140/mo savings is MORE than worth the rare times I get poor service. If you live in a city, this should be a no brainer.

  • bkosh84

    Umm.. I wonder what would be the best way to test T-Mobile’s service for me.. I tried to unlock my AT&T HTC One on AT&T’s website but they denied me because I’m still under contract… Poop…

    • jbdan

      I bought a N4 back in April 2013 to test the waters. Got a line with tmo. Have 2 weeks to test. Ended up staying with tmo came from vzw. Lost $35 restocking fee (returned and got gs4). Not the most economical way but all I could think of at the time. Worked out for our family as we now save $60 a month, have better service, have no contract, have hd voice, have jump insurance so upgrades come in 6 months (2 per year) & have unlimited data (2.5GB per line which is high speed).

    • Turb0wned

      http://cellunlocker.net/ worked for both my HTC Ones.

  • UniBroW

    Waiting to bring over the 3 remaining family members I still have on Sprint. T-mobile in my area just absolutely rocks. To put the icing on the cake, they even sent me a cel-fi for my parentals home which is an area where no providers generally get good service in their home. Their home, for whatever reason, is a giant dead spot for the most part.

  • Chippah

    T-Mobile now paying for you to have zero coverage…

    • UniBroW

      Yup, if you’re in an area where t-mobile is bad I guess that applies. Otherwise, boom head shot

      • crazed_z06

        Speed tests in specific places are meaningless. It’s a “mobile” phone. It will be moving around. If service isnt generally good everywhere, it doesnt matter if it gets 35 megabits when standing under a tower.

        • StuckOnVerizonForever

          T Mobile trolls, they sure do move everywhere

        • LionStone

          Nobody said that those speeds are across the board! And I didn’t catch where he said he took all those tests in one area?

          • crazed_z06

            True.. just saying people always post these speedtests like they mean something. What really matters is how robust a network’s coverage and performance is. My Verizon LTE speeds these days are around 5-10mpbs, but I have service everywhere. That’s what’s really important.

        • UniBroW

          I commute all over Long Island and there are a few places where I haven’t been able to get good service but those are few and far between. These are not taken while sitting under a tower, these are usually taken while at a traffic stop while the phone is in my car dock.

      • master94

        Those aren’t realistic speeds now that Tmobile sold it’s AWS spectrum to VZW in return for 700 A mhz. Speeds will be a lot less but coverage will get better at those spectrum levels.

        • Nate Webb

          How do you know this? I don’t really know how all of this works, honestly.

          • master94

            Androidpolice did a article about it that went into the technical details of it all. AWS provides better speed but the 700 mhz provides better building penetration and distance but can only achieve 5×5 instead of 20×20.

      • chris125

        So you get good speeds in your area? I am sure someone on att or verizon could match/exceed those speeds and they have many more customers actually using the data. I would hope you could get those speeds on TMO, I still get those on verizon and that is with 10x more customers using the network.

        • LionStone

          I been testing my N5 in north/south California and east coast areas (Raleigh, NC) on T-mo and pretty surprised at the speeds and coverage. I’m glad to see this so it’ll eventually level the playing field for competition amongst the carriers.

        • UniBroW

          you’re probably right, but they probably don’t have unlimited data. I’m not here claiming that t-mobile has the best network, just merely pointing out that the original comment is just plain wrong if t-mobile is good in someone’s respective area. It’s good here on Long Island/NYC, and that’s where I spend a majority of my time. Unlimited data is the most important thing for me, here I have it so t-mobile gets my money.

          • chris125

            Agree I would switch in a heart beat once they expand their coverage more, just now it is too spotty for me

          • UniBroW

            it will get better, I just recently switched from Sprint and it reminds me of back in the day when i had AOL or prodigy dialup and my family switched to Cable modem. Obviously, you won’t get that feel if they have bad service in your area =)

          • kgbkny

            In in NYC – Brooklyn, to be exact. T-Mobile’s data speeds in my neighborhood top out at 0.5 Mbps downstream.

    • Recently Switched from AT&T

      T-Mobile coverage is fine in the areas I travel. I just switched from AT&T about a month or so ago. In fact, it is better than AT&T. Admittedly, you have to take a serious look at your area to determine whether T-Mobile will work for you, like with any carrier, but they are getting better every day with the noticeable upgrades they’re putting into their network.

  • cgalyon

    Hm. If you have to buy a new device, that isn’t as compelling. The cost of switching is both the ETF and the device, combined with the uncertainty of if you will like the service.

    • Prime7

      That, and if you’re still grandfathered into unlimited data with Verizon or AT&T, knowing that there’s no going back once you’ve left your plan.

    • TakinLzSince91

      The service is great, I use to have Sprint, and I know people with AT&T customer service with T-mobile is amazing, aswell as the Jump program.

  • jdubtrey

    How are “they” paying your ETF if you have to give up your phone? It sounds like the customer is paying their own ETF.

    • Brandon Jiang

      Depends on the phone of course

      • jdubtrey

        Can you think of an example where the ETF (which shrinks over time and which is less for basic phones usually) is more than the resale value of the phone? I am not saying there isn’t a case, but I am curious.

        I am thinking that in many cases your phone might be worth $150-200 while your ETF might be under $100

        • Plerisei

          Depends on the carrier. I know when I had a smart phone with Verizon, the ETF, I believe, starts at $360, or $320. It drops 10 dollars a month per month you pay your bill, but will never go less than $160. So it will take 20 months before you reach that price. If you have a family of smartphones on at least Verizon, and you are less than a year in your contract, and want to switch, its a pretty good deal if their coverage holds up in your area.

          • Detonation

            Assuming you got the latest smartphones when signed the contract, less than a year in each phone would still be worth around $300. So a family of smartphones (lets say 3) is worth $900 and the ETF after a year would be $690 (350-120 * 3). If you want to switch to T-Mobile, sell the phones yourself, pay the ETF, pocket the extra ~$200, and sign up like normal. I don’t see any way this new deal could result in you having an extra $200 when all is said and done.

            Now if you got an older phone when you signed the contract, the resale value would barely be more than the ETF, but it was also probably very cheap or free on contract (versus the usual full price of $200) so that savings up front can be factored into the total cost.

          • MikeCiggy

            Pop out your Verizon sim and put it in an older device. Take your almost new device and sell privately and trade in your old pos. This may put more than $200 in your pocket.

          • Fattie McDoogles

            The average consumer isn’t going to do that though.

          • Fattie McDoogles

            You’re kind of right about the situation. You forget though that the money for your new phones is do upfront when you sign up for T-Mobile and if you don’t have the best credit (which a lot of Americans don’t) you aren’t getting 0 down for your phones so there will be some upfront cost. No one is going to sell their phones BEFORE they sign up for new service. Also the money for whatever carrier you’re leaving becomes do immediately as soon as you terminate the contract.

            T-Mobile is saving people time and energy, which are HUGE commodities these days. Plus, T-Mobile is basing the money they’re giving transferring families off of the big phone buyers, like Gazelle, Usell, Best Buy, etc. No big company is going to match what you can make by selling your device privately on Craigslist or Swappa. There’s no room for profit that way.

          • Detonation

            Right, I was actually going to end my comment with something like along the lines of most people being lazy and just going with whatever results in the most money immediately. Then again, if you have the hundreds of dollars to float while switching/selling, you’re probably not going to be in this situation anyway.

          • TylerCameron

            Well, I don’t really think $0 down is really good anyway because that makes your bill more expensive…

          • jdubtrey

            My bad then. I thought re-sale values were higher than that.

          • Plerisei

            You cool man. I wasn’t offended at all. God bless you. 🙂 Your point was correct about high end phones, depending on the highend phone. I’m feeling the pain, cause this Nexus 4 is worthless now with regard to resale. I look at Iphone resale value, and I cry. lol.

          • Plerisei

            I think the next phone I will get will be a moto X, either a new one or an older one. Hear the user experience is really good, and the battery life is really good, both better than the nexus 5.

        • Michigan Guy

          Well my Droid Razr Maxx HD is currently worth about $70, if that. This is definitely a good deal for me. My ETF is currently $240. I’d jump on this in a heartbeat.

          • T4rd

            Maxx HDs are going for $200+ on Swappa right now. Unless yours is beat to hell with a shattered display, it’s worth much more than $70.

          • Michigan Guy

            Wow. Am I the only one who has never looked at Swappa? I had passed that off as some kind of Gazelle.com type website. Thanks!

            Also, that still wouldn’t cover my ETF.

          • T4rd

            Hah, no. Gazelle is like the Gamestop of buying used phones; they lowball the hell out of you, offering a fraction of what the phone is worth and re-sell it for a tad below retail for the phone.
            Swappa is legit and is ran from XDA members/affiliates.

          • enigmaco

            I have tried selling two devices on swappa with no luck, had a easier ti_e on ebay good luck…..and go bucks!

          • jdubtrey

            My bad then. I thought re-sale values were higher than that.

        • Blaine Magee

          My ETF for AT&T with 3 months left was $180. The only reason I jumped to T-Mo a while back was cause they offered me $150 and I got to keep my phone. AT&T straight up charges out the ass on their ETF’s

        • capecodcarl

          I have a Motorola Bionic and an HTC Rezound leftover from my Verizon contract. My ETF for the Verizon contract was $150 per line for the remaining 4 months of my contract. I’ll be lucky if I can get about $100 for my Rezound and $85 for the Bionic, minus any shipping and handling costs and sales fees, so I definitely will take a loss if I even bother to sell them. I’ll probably be lazy and leave them sitting in the drawer until they’re completely obsolete and worthless like I did with my OG Droids.

          • jdubtrey

            My bad then. I thought re-sale values were higher than that.

        • enigmaco

          They had me until the phone trade in, I have a moto x with verizon that will work with t-mobile just won’t be able to get the lte speeds, or I might keep seeing conflicting stories. Looks like I’ll be heading to a t-mobile store here soon to find out for certain.

          • TylerCameron

            I think the Verizon Moto X has LTE band 4.

          • enigmaco

            Looks like you are right, went onto xda and there are people reporting using their verizon moto x on t-mobile and getting lte sweet!

    • T4rd

      I’ll take my old OG Droids and activate them on my lines before I move over to T-Mobile. Then take my Note 2 and GS4 and sell them still. =D

      • Bob G

        Won’t work, since the total amount they give you towards the ETF payment will take in consideration your phones’ trade in values.

        • T4rd

          Ahh, well that’s garbage if true.

        • MikeCiggy

          That’s not what the ad implies. It implies that they will pay your eft to come to them if you give them your old phone. Obviously there will be limits but if they really want me to switch they better believe they have to pay my full EFT or no dice.

          • elyssa doom

            What’s an EFT?

          • master94

            Early Termination fee, if you leave a contract early you have to pay it to cancel it

          • chatterbox

            Ohh you mean an ETF. lol

        • disqus_jIKoyGiAa2

          T-Mobile will pay up to $650 PER LINE
          (up to $300 for your device and up to $350 for cancellation fee).

    • Grayson Carr

      I WILL PAY OFF YOUR CAR LOAN FOR YOU!!! It’s my gift to you. Damn I’m generous.

      Cough …as long as you give the car to me and buy this other car I’m selling. Cough

      • um

        That would be okay with everyone who is upside down on their car loan, which is probably a nice % of people who have cars financed, or anyone who just wants a new car.

        • Grayson Carr

          If you’re upside down on your car loan, it’s probably not a great idea to take on a bigger car loan. I know people do it, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.

    • Jonathan D

      “They” will pay your ETF (up to $350) plus the trade in value of your phone.

  • please God let this happen, I will leave Sprint in a blink of an eye.

    • TakinLzSince91

      I hate sprint…worst experience ever, now i own a T-Mobile droid, I LOVE IT. Best service ever!

  • clobberedchina

    Gizmodo credited Droid Life for this find in their article. Good. I like seeing a little journalistic integrity on the net.

    • StuckOnVerizonForever

      Maybe that will get Droid Life more when they switch to T Mobile.

    • AndrewScottRox

      If you like journalistic integrity, why are you reading Gizmodo?

      • whoopsOhMy

        Hey he read you. Maybe he was in the restroom and your name came up. Probably needed something to wipe himself with; again your name popped up

  • dennis laska

    rolls eyes:

  • Bessie Arino

    I wonder if a SIM Kit counts as a qualifying device purchase.

    • AnotherAndroidKid

      This is what will hold us up. My wife wants the moto x and i’m torn personally between it and the nexus 5. Either way, i’m not buying hardware from tmo to switch. Will they really refuse to help me leave VZ before late april due to a device they don’t even offer in the moto x?

  • mickey

    So how does this differ from what Att is now offering? Obviously cheaper plans on top of it but not exactly “desperate”. Disappointed in having to trade in PLUS purchase a new device. I want off Att but my plan of 3 will actually cost more with device costs added to it on t-mobile.

    • Exactly, AT&T doing this ahead of time will make the general public think that T-Mobile is just copying them. He has to have something else up his sleeve from everything he’s been bragging about.

      • chris125

        He better have something else up his sleeve otherwise he will just be laughed off the stage if this is all he has to offer with all the trash he was talking about how att would be “crushed” after they announced it.

  • Aaron

    That really only covers one line to transfer though, doesn’t it? Doesn’t Verizon charge an ETF for EACH LINE? (Which if I remember correctly is up to $350 per line?)

    • sl249

      It does…depending how far you are into your contract. Now If they covered ETFs for a single individual coming from a family plan such as myself then i’d leave Verizon in a heartbeat. I’m sure there are many people in the same situation myself…recently college bound and looking to deviate away from their family’s plan. Now there’s some money to be made T-Mobile.

      • Aaron

        T-mobile seems fairly decent with 4G coverage in my area and would switch from Verizon for the lower plans. I share a plan with a family member and my half is ~$92/month for 6GB of data, unlimited calls and texts (total ~$180 on average for 2 phones after tax). I have a 11 months to go until our contract is up. (Note: Family Member has government discount. I don’t know how others compare.) It just seems if it was to be just me T-Mobile would have cheaper plans.

    • kvs25

      no, it’s PER line:

      Customers from the three largest national wireless carriers (i.e.,
      AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint) can trade-in their working phones and
      tablets at any participating T-Mobile location, switch their numbers
      over and receive a credit, based on the value of their device, which can
      be used towards a new device purchase. The maximum trade-in value for
      devices is $300 per line. When a customer gets their final bill from
      their previous carrier stating their ETF amounts and sends it to
      T-Mobile, they receive a prepaid MasterCard card equal to their ETF,
      with up to $350 per line, within 8 weeks. The maximum payout per line
      would be up to $650.

  • Thomas Su

    A little disappointed as a current customer…