OK. It’s ‘technically’ still a free phone when you Trade-In your old phone. You still get an $800 total credit on an $800 phone. But the way they credit your account will make your bill go UP each month!

So from the initial offer, it seems straightforward. You sign up for 24 monthly payments on an $800 phone. They give you 24 monthly credits equal to the payment. So, the payment each month is $33.34 and you get a credit for $33.34, so the net cost would be $Zero. You’d think, right?

Not so fast. That would make sense, so of course, that’s not how they do it.

First Your Trade-In Must Qualify – Mine phone DID, so I THOUGHT I was all set.

Assuming your phone qualifies (mine is an S10+ so it qualified for the full $800 credit), the ‘catch’ comes down in the last item #3.

So this is where T-Mo gets tricky. Lets say your phone is worth $200.

You have to sign a contract for 24 months at $33.34. $800 total.
When they receive your trade-in, they initiate 24 monthly credits to your account.
To calculate the monthly credit, they subtract the $200 value of your old phone from the $800 price =$600.
Then they divide $600 by 24 months to get your monthly credit of $25
They also give your a ONE-TIME credit for $200 applied directly to your account.
Your bill is now $8/ month higher because you are being charged $33 and getting a credit for $25 ($33-25=8) for the next 24 months.
The $200 credit they apply doesn’t reduce the amount you owe or the monthly payment amount, it’s just a one-time credit applied to your account in general, and…and this is important, not against the equipment contract.

So: In my case, my bill is currently $140 so it will go up to $148 for 24 months
They apply a $200 credit, so the first month T-Mobile OWES ME $52 ($200-148=52) and I pay NOTHING. I still have $52 credit.
The next month, I pay $96. $148 less the $52 credit. ($148-52=96)
After that, the next 22 months I’m stuck paying $8 more, $148 each month.

While all this is confusing and likely very BAD for T-Mobile’s business, the way they EXPLAIN it is even worse. It took me over 7 hours between text messages and voice calls with supervisors to HOPEFULLY get them to understand and HOPEFULLY get my account setup to be a $33 charge and a $33 credit each month. They PROMISED it was all set. They also processed a credit for $1600 to my account, so I really had no idea what would REALLY happen when I signed the contract. I signed it anyway in total frustration.

So I guess I’ll find out eventually how this turns out. Fingers crossed. 🤞