The wireless industry’s battle for subscribers has escalated again with T-Mobile US scrapping credit checks for existing customers who want the best deals on devices.
Smartphone Equality, which starts Sunday, is for T-Mobile subscribers who don’t meet traditional credit standards but have 12 months of on-time payments with T-Mobile.
Until now, they’ve had to pay a big part of the price for the newest iPhone or Galaxy phone upfront and the rest on installments, or go for a cheaper device with fewer features.
“They can’t get the phone they want or maybe even a smartphone,” Andrew Sherrard, T-Mobile’s senior vice president of marketing, said Thursday.
Customers with higher credit scores can get the best devices with no money down. It has been the industry’s practice across companies, according to T-Mobile.
T-Mobile said it found that its customers with a year of on-time payments are just as reliable in the future as high credit score customers.
Dave Carey, the company’s executive vice president of corporate services, said customers put a priority on keeping their cellphones and pay that bill before most others. The phone or tablet often is their primary access to the Internet, he said.
The offer is one of many T-Mobile has made over the last several years to appeal to new subscribers and hang on to those it has. Many of these, such as installment payments for phones separate from wireless service contracts, have been copied by other wireless companies.
T-Mobile said its Smartphone Equality offer isn’t open to rival companies’ customers who want to switch to T-Mobile because T-Mobile doesn’t have access to their on-time record at the other wireless carrier. Credit checks also still apply when qualifying to being billed for service each month rather than having to pay in advance each month.