AT&T Hits Back at T-Mobile with Up to $450 in Credits for Switchers

Over the past year, att_t-mobile_logosT-Mobile US has been shaking up the U.S. carrier market with its "Un-carrier" plans, the addition of the iPhone to its device lineup, and a frequent device upgrade program, enticing several other major carriers to make changes to their own services to align with T-Mobile's offerings.

Going beyond recent moves to uncouple device and service costs as T-Mobile has done, AT&T today announced that it is offering up to $450 in credits for customers switching to the carrier from T-Mobile. The offer consists of two parts: up to $250 for trading in their current smartphone as part of the carrier's usual trade-in plan and an additional $200 for transferring their wireless service to AT&T.

Beginning Jan. 3, under the limited-time offer, T-Mobile customers who switch to AT&T can trade-in their current smartphone for a promotion card of up to $250, which can be used toward AT&T products and services. Trade-in values will vary based on make, model and age of the smartphone, but many of the latest and most popular smartphones will qualify for a value of $250. T-Mobile customers can receive an additional $200 credit per line when they transfer their wireless service to AT&T and choose an AT&T NextSM plan, buy a device at full retail price or activate a device they currently own.

Last month, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson noted that the long-standing U.S. wireless business model of carriers providing device subsidies in exchange for service contracts is no longer economically feasible. By uncoupling device costs from service, carriers believe they can offer customers more flexibility when it comes to deciding about device upgrades while still allowing customers to spread out their significant hardware costs through payment plans.

Following last year's series of Un-carrier announcements from T-Mobile, the company is set to announce the next stage of its program next week at CES. Details have yet to surface, but hints and rumors have suggested that the carrier may be making some changes to encourage family plan users to switch carriers, perhaps through subsidizing early termination fees imposed by other carriers.

The future of T-Mobile does, however, remain up in the air, as parent company Deutsche Telekom has been looking to exit the U.S. market. Following a failed attempt by AT&T to acquire T-Mobile US in 2011, Sprint has been reported to be mulling its own offer for T-Mobile that could allow the combined carrier to rival the much larger Verizon and AT&T.

Update: In an email to Re/code, T-Mobile CEO John Legere calls AT&T's new offer a "desperate move".

“This is a desperate move by AT&T on the heels of what must have been a terrible Q4 and holiday for them,” Legere said in an e-mail to Re/code. “Consumers won’t be fooled… nothing has changed, customers will still feel the same old pain that AT&T is famous for. Just wait until CES to hear what pain points we are eliminating next. The competition is going to be toast!” [...]

“We used AT&T’s cash to build a far superior network and added ‘un-carrier’ moves to take tons of their customers – and now they want to bribe them back,” Legere said. “I’m flattered that we have made them so uncomfortable!”

Update 2: T-Mobile has published a similar version of Legere's statement.

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Top Rated Comments

Codyak Avatar
136 months ago
Go go T-Mobile, keep shaking things up. :D
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DipDog3 Avatar
136 months ago
As a long term AT&T customer, I would have switched to T-Mobile a long time ago if I could get decent coverage.

The $450 credit for customers is a very bad deal. You have to hand in your old smartphone for only $250 & buy another from AT&T at full price using their Next program. It would be cheaper if you just kept your old smartphone. AT&T will always find a way to screw you over.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Moshe1010 Avatar
136 months ago
New customers have to sign for mobile share plan at AT&T (this is the only option AT&T offers for new contracts).
2GB Data + Unlimited talk and text = $95 before taxes. Compare it to $50 from T-Mobile. That's $45X24 months (contract) = $1080 - $450 credit = $630 or $315 loss per year for this move (pre tax).

Every additional smartphone adds $40 to the plan and shares this 2GB, unlike T-Mobile where you get additional line with 2GB data for $40 (goes down by $10 for each additional line).
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ghettochris Avatar
136 months ago
FU att, how about a good deal for your current subscribers? line better pricing for out of contract plans, rollover data, etc.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Windlasher Avatar
136 months ago
Fail...

Seems like too little too late... I guess no one is falling for the family shared plan. It actually would have raised our rates and given us less data.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mpantone Avatar
136 months ago
T-Mobile plans seem great, but I think people are in for a rude awakening when they start upgrading their phones all the time and end up being broke.
Nah, we're good.

Some of us can actually do math, figure out TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) during the research stage.

:D
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)