$105 iPhone 5: Smaller Carriers Turn to Creative Payment Plans to Bring Down Smartphone Prices
The Problem: The high up-front cost of getting a good smartphone without a contract. It can be hard to stomach the idea of a $650 iPhone, even if it costs less in the long run than buying a $200 subsidized one from a major carrier.
The Solution: Cricket, for instance, is allowing customers to pay $105 to walk out the door with an iPhone 5–a cost that includes one month of service–with a loan from Progressive Finance. That’s $395 cheaper than what Cricket usually charges, and there’s no interest for customers who pay off the loan within 90 days. (With interest, customers have nine months to pay off the phone in full.) Cricket’s wireless plan for the iPhone costs $55 per month with unlimited voice and messaging and 2.5 GB of full-speed data. A comparable postpaid plan on Verizon Wireless would cost $100 per month.
- smaller carriers are providing other options, and finding creative ways to offer better smartphones without charging full price.
The payment plan concept is not limited to smaller prepaid carriers. T-Mobile, the fourth-largest U.S. carrier, recently announced that it’s doing away with phone subsidies entirely, and will instead let customers pay in installments for phones on its Value Plans. Unlike Cricket, T-Mobile will require a two-year contract with these plans, but installments are drawn out over a 20-month period with no interest. Again, customers save money by sticking it out and paying a much lower monthly rate once their phones are paid off.