(ETF Question) Upgrading iPhone before switching to T-Mobile

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by KenAFSPC, Aug 24, 2014.

  1. KenAFSPC macrumors 6502a

    Sep 12, 2012

    1. You have a 4-line family plan with AT&T. Two lines are off-contract and qualify for a discounted phone upgrade.
    2. T-Mobile has a promotion whereby they will pay ETFs of up to $350 per line for any customer switching from AT&T/Verizon/Sprint.
    If I would like to switch to T-Mobile, is there any reason not to purchase two iPhone 6 devices on AT&T (likely $99-199 each) before I make the switch? I understand AT&T would charge an ETF of $325 per line, but T-Mobile is willing to pay ETFs of up to $350 per line for customers to switch.

    Is there anything stopping me from taking these two iPhone 6 devices from AT&T to T-Mobile? Is there any reason not do this? What am I missing here, if anything?
  2. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    ATT has a $40 per-line upgrade fee that you'll pay also.

    IIRC, the phones will be locked to ATT, so you wont be able to use them on T-Mobile until you have ATT unlock them, which I thought takes some time. i.e. Not likely to happen on the day that you cancel your ATT and port over to T-Mobile.


    You're still saving some money vs buying the phones from T-Mobile for $649. But check on the unlock thing. If you're going to have to wait until ATT has received payment for your final bill before they'll unlock the phones, that might leave you in limbo for awhile.
  3. KenAFSPC thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 12, 2012
    Thanks. However, wouldn't my actual out-of-pocket cost be $199+40=$239 since T-Mobile will pay the ETF?
  4. 1981d, Aug 24, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2014

    1981d macrumors 6502

    Sep 24, 2013
    There is also a time limit to be eligible for the ETF. I don't recall how long, but just for example, you have to have the phone on an ATT plan for two weeks or a month before you cancel, otherwise they charge your card the full amount of the phone instead of an ETF.


    It is better to think of it as T-Mobile reimbursing you for the ETF. Also, you have to give tMobile your old device and buy a new one from them to be eligible for the ETF reimbursement.


    Basically, you would be paying $240 to give tmobile a $650 brand new phone, if I understand the program correctly. So, you're gonna pay $239 for the phone from ATT, then hand that over to TMobile and buy a new iPhone 6 from them for full price, minus a presumed $300 trade in credit. So, all told, $589 per phone. A discount but certainly not the windfall you might have hoped for.
  5. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    You're right, I'm not awake yet. I think you'd have to float the ETF though, as it takes T-Mobile awhile to reimburse you. But if you have to turn in your ATT phone to qualify for the T-Mobile reimbursement, then boo on that.
  6. KenAFSPC thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 12, 2012
    Thanks. I was thinking that I would give T-Mobile my current/older phones (4S) or some other phone rather than the new iPhones. I wonder if they'd go for that?

    If indeed I must buy new iPhone 6 devices from T-Mobile, and can't use the new AT&T iPhone 6 devices on T-Mobile (and still qualify for ETF reimbursement), then I suppose I would have to re-sell the AT&T iPhones.

    Has anyone else undertaken this sort of switch? What was your experience?
  7. trovata macrumors newbie

    Oct 16, 2014
    I'm in the exact same position to do what you are describing. Did you go through with this and did it pan out as you had anticipated or were there any unforeseen costs or outcomes?

    I was planning on getting the phone unlocked by AT&T after the ETF was paid off by T-Mobile and then just selling the AT&T phone, but wasn't sure if there was some catch I overlooked.
  8. tjl3 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2012
    You have 2 months to provide the final bill w/ ETF. But something not taken into account is the state government taxes and surcharges.
  9. trovata macrumors newbie

    Oct 16, 2014
    Ok good to know, thanks. Sounds like you did this whole process. Did you have any issues with AT&T unlocking the phone after you paid the ETF? I read on the AT&T phone unlock request page that the phone had to be paid off in full and wasn't sure if paying the ETF met that requirement.
  10. tjl3 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2012
    I did it on Verizon, so I cannot comment on that. But that surcharge I got with my final bill today, completely caught me off guard.
  11. Supermallet macrumors 65816


    Sep 19, 2014
    Paying the ETF is in lieu of paying the phone off in full, so yes, if you pay the ETF they should have to unlock it for you.
  12. trovata macrumors newbie

    Oct 16, 2014
    Oh I see. How much was the estimated EFT vs. the actual for you?
  13. furbzv1 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 17, 2014
    It is my understanding that you have to trade in a phone (any phone) and purchase a new one with eip. You can technically buy the cheapest phone they have and then grab that SIM card and use it on your unlocked AT&T phone
  14. tjl3 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2012
    So the full breakdown, in case this is what you meant or if you were curious, was:

    128gb Verizon iPhone 6 Plus $530.19
    ETF $350
    Random Verizon Surcharges $17.44
    Government Taxes + Surcharges $64.58
    Subtotal $962.21

    T-Mobile Rebate -$350
    Total $612.21

    Off-Contract Price $1036.78
    Total Savings $424.57

    So for $612.21, with tax, I have an unlocked, off-contract 128gb iPhone 6 Plus. I am assuming that T-Mobile honors the agreement and I get that $350 rebate.
  15. nasty eggrolls macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2010
    I am in the middle of switching from AT&T to T-Mobile and this is my process:

    - Bought iPhone 6+ on launch using AT&T subsidy ($399 for 64GB). Signed new 2-year contract.
    - Bought an old AT&T flip phone for $10 on eBay.

    I went into T-Mobile with the old AT&T flip phone and they accepted it as my trade in phone, and actually gave me $25 credit for it. In order to receive ETF credit, I had to buy a new device. The cheapest new phone they'll let you get is a $90 LG android device. So I got that and plan to flip it on eBay (they are going for around $80ish so its pretty much a wash). Once I receive my final bill + ETF from AT&T and pay it off, they will unlock my iPhone 6 and I can begin using it on T-Mobile.
  16. trovata macrumors newbie

    Oct 16, 2014
    Cool, so how did you confirm that they would unlock after you paid off the ETF?
  17. nasty eggrolls macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2010
    I confirmed two separate times with an AT&T customer service rep. Also, it states it on this page:


    Paying off the ETF is considered paying for the mobile device in full.


    This is the chat I had with an AT&T customer service rep online:

    Terry Ritchie : Hi there, Justin, I see here that you have some questions on unlocking your iPhone. I completely understand, and I'm here to provide whatever assistance I can!

    Justin: Thank you

    Terry Ritchie : Are we going to be working with the line ending in XXXX today?

    Justin: Yes that is correct. I switched my service to T-Mobile earlier this week and I am wondering what I need to do to unlock my iPhone 6 to be used on their network?

    Terry Ritchie : Have you already paid off your early termination fee?

    Justin: I haven't - I am still waiting for my final bill from AT&T.

    Terry Ritchie : Once your early termination fee is paid, please allow 24 hours for our systems to update the terminated status of your contract. After that, your contractual obligations will be considered complete, and you can submit an unlock request at www.att.com/deviceunlock for approval.
  18. LeoCheng macrumors newbie

    Oct 3, 2012
    Anyone knows that if I port in 4 lines to t mobile and request reimbursement of ETF. After receive the reimbursement, any consequence if I cancel 1 of the 4 lines, assume I buy the phone in full price from t mobile upfront.

  19. kepler20b macrumors 6502

    Oct 18, 2014
    i'm not sure exactly what you're trying to accomplish, but it is probably cheaper to buy a used iphone 4 and use that as the tradein on the line you want to dump.
  20. LeoCheng, Oct 28, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2014

    LeoCheng macrumors newbie

    Oct 3, 2012
    I plan to trade in some cheap phone bought from ebay to qualify for the ETF reimbursement. I am tired of ATT and want to switch carrier now. Currently, all of the 4 lines are still in contract. But one of them is sort of idea and is not used. Therefore, I want to dump this line. If switch, I need get t mobile cover the ETF for this line, and that's why I ask whether I could cancel this line at T mobile w/o any penalty.
  21. mainomega macrumors 6502

    Jun 5, 2007

    Perfectly fine to cancel the line after you get your fees payed by TMobile.
  22. furbzv1 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 17, 2014
    and the ETF reimbursement takes about 8 weeks? so at the worst you will be paying $10 a month for an additional line.. would rather pay the $20 than the ETF
  23. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    They would go for that just fine. The 4S's would work and you might even get a small amount trade-in credit for them. You will also have to buy a phone from T-Mobile as well, but it can be a cheap $40 flip phone that the store rep activates ins tore for a couple minutes, then switches over to a nano SIM for your new iPhones. And this cost should be more than covered by the trade-ins of your 4Ss.

    Just be mindful of what was mentioned earlier: AT&T does have some minimum amount of time (I think it's two months) where instead of being charged the ETF you are instead charged the full purchase price of the phones, which can be a few hundred dollars more. This is done specifically to discourage people from doing what you're thinking of doing.

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