AT&T's Cricket launches new device financing options, kills promotional 20 GB plan

AT&T Mobility's (NYSE: T) Cricket prepaid brand is making a handful of changes to its offerings and plans, including introducing a new device financing program and a new switching credit. The company is also eliminating a high-end promotional plan that had offered customers 20 GB of data for as low as $55 per month.

Cricket said the new financing program will give customers multiple options to get a new smartphone for a low amount of money up front. The three options include a rent-to-own leasing option for qualified customers:

  • Tier I: This option lets customers finance their device with an initial loan payment of $19.99 and 0 percent interest for 24 months. Cricket said this option requires approval through a standard credit bureau check, and accessories and tax may be included in the loan.
  • Tier II: Cricket said this option lets customers finance their device with an initial loan payment of $19.99 and six-month deferred interest offer and 29.99 percent APR for an 18-month term. Customers will pay no interest if the purchase amount is paid off within six months.  However, if the loan is not paid off within six months, all accrued interest from the date of purchase will be billed to the customer's account.  Monthly payments for this option are determined by the amount of the loan. This option also requires approval through a standard credit bureau check and accessories and tax may be included in the loan.
  • Tier III: This rent-to-own leasing option is equivalent to 90 days same as cash. Cricket said that means a customer can purchase a device with $49.99 initial rental payment, pay the remaining balance in installments over a 90-day period, and not incur any interest at all, as if the customer had paid for the device upfront. This option requires no credit check, but Cricket said a third party may be used to verify financial information.

According to Cricket, any phone it sells that is priced at or over $199.99, including the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S6 and the ZTE Grand X Max+, qualifies for the new "Phone Payment Plans."  The carrier said a maximum of five devices may be financed per account and customers can also add accessories to their plan after the purchase of a qualifying device.

All major U.S. carriers have embraced some form of device financing, though the financing programs at the Tier 1 postpaid carriers typically have programs to let customers upgrade early if they finance their device in monthly installments. Device financing might be particularly attractive for Cricket, which generally markets to low-income consumers who want prepaid service.

Cricket separately said that for a limited time, it is offering customers who switch from T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS), T-Mobile's MetroPCS prepaid brand, Sprint (NYSE: S), Sprint's Boost prepaid brand and other competitors one free month of free service after completing two months of service. Cricket said the offer applies to customers who select its $50 or $60 monthly rate plan.

Meanwhile, Cricket also confirmed that it is ending sales of its $60 "Advanced" plan (the plan dropped down to $55 per month when customers enrolled in Cricket's auto-pay program). The plan offered unlimited voice, texting, calling and texting to Mexico and 20 GB of LTE data, but required customers to have an LTE phone. Cricket's similarly priced "Pro" plan offers 10 GB of data before throttling.

Cricket started selling the Advanced plan at the end of January and will stop selling it tomorrow. A Cricket spokeswoman said that customers who take advantage of the promotion or have the promotional plan will be grandfathered in and will continue to receive the promotional high-speed data allotment even after the promotional period ends. "Cricket continues to find ways to offer customers first class service at an affordable price with special offers and promotions such as the Advanced Plan," she said.

For more:
- see this release
- see this PhoneScoop article
- see this Cricket page
- see this Prepaid Reviews article

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