When I heard Thursday morning that T-Mobile was paying people to leave behind their old carriers and switch over, I knew the time had come for me to leave the family plan.
I graduated college five years ago, but like many twentysomethings, I've been on my family's Verizon plan since I was a teenager.
Sometimes bundled plans keep costs relatively low for families, and being one of three kids, the time had never made sense to pay the large cancellation fee and finally separate myself from the pack.
I told my parents about the deal and they were seriously elated. I promised I'd go to a T-Mobile store that day.
T-Mobile is offering up to $350 for people to leave their carriers. The $350 covers the hefty cancellation fee Verizon, Sprint and AT&T charge if you bail before your contract is up. In my case, it costs about $280 to pull my number from Verizon.
When I went into the store on 86th street in Manhattan, the sales associate immediately knew what I wanted to do, which was helpful! She had all of the forms on hand and was ready to start the process.
Steve Kovach/Business Insider
I traded my Verizon iPhone 4S for the iPhone 5S with T-Mobile.
The first thing she did was check my credit, which took all of about 3 minutes. When that went through, she explained the costs breakdown to me.
I chose a plan with unlimited texting, phone calls, and data for around $80.
I also wanted the iPhone 5S.
With T-Mobile, there's $0 down for the phone, but you pay the taxes (around $60) on the day you get it. Then you pay a monthly payment of around $30 on top of your monthly costs to cover the cost of the phone. That dollar amount gets factored into your phone bill.
The other catch of this deal: you have to trade in your old phone to T-Mobile in order to qualify for the paid cancellation fee.
This is how the system works:
- T-Mobile carries over my number to my new phone. When it grabs my phone number, it automatically gets pulled off from Verizon and my Verizon bill was slapped with the cancellation fee. I didn't have to talk to Verizon at all, I just had to provide T-Mobile with my account number.
- When you leave the T-Mobile store with your new phone, they also give you two sets of forms.
- The first one is a prepaid label so you can send your old phone back. My white 16GB iPhone 4S was valued at $101.00. Once I send my old phone in (I have 7 days to do it), I'll get a prepaid Mastercard from T-Mobile for that amount. They won't pay your cancellation fee (below) unless you send your phone in.
- The second set of forms is for the cancelation refund. All you have to do is pay the bill for your cancelation from your old carrier and send along the proof of payment and forms to T-Mobile within 30 days. In 6-8 weeks, T-Mobile sends you a Mastercard prepaid card with the amount you had to pay your old carrier, up to $350.
That's it! It was painless and easy, and took about 30 minutes from the time I walked in the store to the time I walked out.
If you're on the family plan, it may be the best time to break free.
If you're paying a lot with another carrier, it may be worth a look to see if you can get a better deal with T-Mobile.
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