Is T-Mobile’s new SCORE! program a good deal?
Earlier this week, T-Mobile unveiled a new phone discount program called SCORE! (with the exclamation point and everything). It’s billing the program as a way to never have to pay full price for you phone again, but is it really a good deal for consumers? As with most things, the answer is: it depends.
Here’s the way SCORE! works: customers can join the program for $5/month. After six months in, members will automatically qualify for a free entry level smartphone. After 12 months, they will qualify for a discount on any of T-Mobile’s smartphones, including brand new LTE devices.
What this means is that, in order to qualify for a free entry-level smartphone, you have to pay $30 into the program – that’s not that bad. And in order to get a discount on any phone, you have to pay $60 into the program.
Right now, the only phone that T-Mobile is advertising for free after six months is the Alcatel Onetouch Evolve 2 – a phone that normally goes for $79.20. After twelve months, you’ll be able to get the Alcatel Onetouch Fierce 2, the LG Optimus L90, or the T-Mobile Concord II for free, phones that normally retail for $126, $168, and $150, respectively. In all cases, you come out ahead.
If you don’t want low-end phones, you could get the Google Nexus 6 by Motorola for $100 off – however, it’s really only a $40 savings, since you already paid $60. And given the fact that T-Mobile currently has the Nexus 6 for $48 off with a promo code, SCORE! actually works out to be a worse deal. (That’s assuming T-Mobile won’t allow you to stack discounts, which it probably won’t.)
However, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has a discount of $109.61 ($49.61 after SCORE!), and the Galaxy Note 4 has a discount of $150.76 ($90.76 after SCORE!). So you will come out ahead with those devices.
So, it looks like this might be a good program for someone who goes through a lot of cheap phones, or who doesn’t need to have the latest and greatest all the time. However, if you consistently purchase high end phones, it might not be for you – in the case of the Nexus 6, it looks to be a wash, and with other phones, the discounts aren’t really that great. If you are a smart shopper and look for discounts elsewhere, you might not need SCORE! at all.
It’s also worth pointing out that you can’t finance any devices when you are on SCORE! (you have to pay for everything up front). It’s also impossible to know what discounts will look like twelve months from now – T-Mobile could make them better, or they could be worse.
Is SCORE! right for me? Probably not. Is it right for you? It depends.[T-Mobile]