Consumers shopping around for a new smartphone may want to take a look at Cricket Wireless' new Phone Payment Plans. The company boasted that it's the first prepaid wireless service to offer the latest premium smartphones at an affordable price without a two-year contract. The company is also offering a free month of service if customers are switching from T-Mobile, Sprint, Boost or a number of other carriers.
For starters, the Phone Payment Plans are broken down into three "Tiers." For Tier I, qualified customers can finance a smartphone for $19.99 down with 0 percent interest for two years. Don't want the two-year commitment? Customers can option for Tier II, which requires a $19.99 initial payment and an 18-month obligation with a 29.99 percent APR and six-month deferred interest. Thus, if the phone isn't paid off within six months, the accrued interest will be added to the account.
As for Tier III, Cricket Wireless is offering a rent-to-own option that must be paid off within 90 days. As an example, a qualified customer could make an initial payment of $49.99 and then make monthly payments over the next 90 days without having to deal with costly interest fees. Unlike the other two tiers, this method doesn't require a credit check.
So what are the qualifying phones? Cricket Wireless indicated that any device costing over $199.99 can be purchased via these three tiers. Customers can also finance up to five devices per account, meaning the whole family can get the latest smartphones including the upcoming Samsung S6.
This should be good news for customers not wanting the typical two-year ball-and-chain contract. Then again, qualified customers must still be tied to a monthly payment scheme no matter which tier is chosen. If you can't afford a month's worth of pre-paid calling, you still have to make that monthly payment for the device.
These types of hardware purchasing plans could be a good thing or a bad thing for cash-strapped customers. On one hand, it allows them to acquire higher-end devices without needing a big pile of cash up front. On the other hand, it's essentially like being on a traditional smartphone contract except that you're bound to paying for the hardware instead of the service.
The aforementioned free month of service for customers switching over from Sprint, T-Mobile or other competing services is a limited time offer, and it requires that new customers have at least two months of Cricket Wireless service under their belt before claiming. Customers must also subscribe to "select" monthly plans costing $50 and $60.
The actual Cricket Wireless plans cost $40 (Basic), $50 (Smart), and $60 (Pro) per month. There's also a $60 "Advanced" plan for 4G LTE devices only that expires on Thursday. This plan includes 20 GB of data, unlimited nationwide calling, unlimited domestic messaging, unlimited calling and messaging to Mexico, and unlimited international texting. Customers can get $5 off the monthly fee of any wireless plan by using the Auto Pay service.