How to Switch To T-Mobile
Step by Step Guide

How to Switch to T-Mobile

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We've all been there.

That amazing deal that attracted you to your current wireless carrier just isn't working for your anymore. Maybe your bills have gone up over time, or another provider is offering better features at a lower price.

Have you considered the T-Mobile network? There are many reasons to consider switching to T-Mobile for your wireless service. The self-proclaimed "uncarrier" offers some of the best no contract cell phone plans, and with the release of the T-Mobile ONE package, they now have unlimited data plans as well. You may, however, want a little more than just the cheapest cell phone plans in order to entice you to switch to T-Mobile.

Fortunately, like most major wireless carriers, T-Mobile is offering up to $650 or more to cover the costs you may incur by leaving your current carrier.

There are criteria that must be met in order to qualify for this T-Mobile offer, and I'll get to that in just a minute. I'll also tell you how to switch to T-Mobile from the other major providers and whether you can bring your own device.

Promotion to Switch to T-Mobile

The process of switching to any of T-Mobile's cell phone plans is basically the same no matter which carrier you're coming from. Whether you can take advantage of the T-Mobile switch promotion will depend on several factors, which I've detailed for you below.

Contract Buyout

T-Mobile's contract buyout deal is pretty standard for the most part:

  1. You must be switching to T-Mobile service from a postpaid plan with a domestic carrier.
  2. You must trade in your device and purchase a T-Mobile phone.
  3. You must be porting in your old phone number.
  4. You must pay off your balance prior to claiming your reimbursement, which is awarded in the form of a prepaid MasterCard.
  5. You must submit the final bill from your old carrier to T-Mobile.

Once you've met all requirements, you can expect reimbursement for up to $650 of your ETF (early termination fee).

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Device Payoff

The process of getting reimbursed for any money you owe on your device is the same as above, except you will receive the amount you owe your old carrier for your phone payments. The great thing about the T-Mobile switch promotion for device payoff is that according to the NARB (National Advertising Review Board):

T-Mobile does not impose any limits on the amount that it will reimburse for what is owed to a previous carrier for the consumer's phone.

This means you may be able to receive more than $650 depending upon how much you owe for your phone. Again, however, you must trade your device in. You will get your reimbursement in the form of a combination of a bill credit for your trade-in value and a prepaid MasterCard for the balance of your amount owed.

In other words, say you owe $600 to your old carrier for your phone. If T-Mobile assigns a $100 trade-in value to it, you'll get a $100 bill credit and a $500 prepaid debit card.

Switching from Verizon to T-Mobile

In order to switch to T-Mobile from your Verizon plan, you'll just need to follow a few simple steps.

How to Switch from Verizon to T-Mobile

  1. Choose a new phone or bring your own. If you want the ETF or device credit, you'll have plenty of new phones to choose from at T-Mobile, from the newest iPhone to flagship Android devices. If not, you may be able to bring your LTE device or newer iPhone. Android phones like a Verizon Samsung Galaxy may not be compatible with T-Mobile service.
  2. Pick a data plan. T-Mobile plans are made up of their ONE unlimited talk, text, and data plans, as well as a selection of consumer-friendly prepaid Simple Choice plans for a variety of needs and budgets.
  3. Request a number transfer. Many people want to keep the same phone number when switching to T-Mobile. You can either call 611 or visit a T-Mobile store to make the change.

Verizon devices are not carrier-locked. This means that if you do bring your own device, you shouldn't have to deal with asking Verizon to unlock it for use with your new carrier.

Switching from Sprint to T-Mobile

Making the switch to T-Mobile from Sprint is simple if you're purchasing a new phone. You may not be happy with any of Sprint's cell phone plans, which may be affordable but lacking in quality compared to the other major carriers. You just want to make sure that you follow the steps at the beginning of this guide in order to qualify for the deals for switching to T-Mobile.

If you want to bring your own phone from Sprint, you may or may not be able to do so. Spring operates on the CDMA network, while T-Mobile phones are GSM. There is some crossover, however. If you have one of the following types of devices you may be able to hang onto your current phone:

  • Some LTE devices
  • "Global" phones, which are CDMA phones designed so that you can use them in other countries
  • Some newer iPhone models

Check with T-Mobile to see if they can accept your device for use on their 4G LTE network.

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Switching from AT&T to T-Mobile

If you're shopping around for a bring your own phone plan, it doesn't get much easier than the switch to T-Mobile from AT&T. Both carriers operate on GSM, making it simple to change over.

How to Switch from AT&T to T-Mobile

The steps for switching from AT&T to T-Mobile are the same as - if not simpler than - changing from any other carrier.

  • If you're purchasing a device from T-Mobile you'll have to pay off anything you owe to AT&T before you can get reimbursement through the deals for switching to T-Mobile.
  • AT&T devices are typically carrier locked, which means you'll need to submit a request for the carrier to unlock your phone if you plan to bring it with you.
  • If you're keeping your own device you can buy and activate a T-Mobile SIM card through the T-Mobile website, over the phone, or in a T-Mobile store.
  • You'll also need to compare T-Mobile plans to see which one fits your usage needs and budget. Options include unlimited talk, text, and data, prepaid Simple Choice plans, and even T-Mobile international services.

Fortunately, most AT&T phones will work on the T-Mobile network, however, be aware that bringing your own phone means giving up the switch to T-Mobile promotion for ETF or device reimbursement.

Read More: AT&T Cell phone plans

questions to ask before switching to t-mobile

Questions to Ask Before Switching to T-Mobile

Below I've provided you with a quick summary of the most common questions you may have about opening a T-Mobile account:

How Do You Activate a T-Mobile SIM Card?

Your new T-Mobile device should arrive with the SIM card already activated. If you're going to bring your current phone with you, call or visit the T-Mobile website or a retail location to have your card activated.

Read More: What is a SIM card? We answer your questions here.

Can You Take Your Existing Phone to T-Mobile?

If you're with AT&T, you will most likely be able to use your existing phone, regardless of whether it's an Android device like the Samsung Galaxy or an iPhone. If you're with Verizon or Sprint, you may be able to, however, you'll need to check with T-Mobile to see if it's compatible. You'll be more likely to be able to bring your iPhone than your Samsung Galaxy or another Android phone.

Will T-Mobile Buy Out My Contract?

Yes, at the time of this writing T-Mobile offers a generous reimbursement program to cover the cost of your early termination fee.

Can I Transfer My Phone Number to T-Mobile?

As long as T-Mobile has a transfer agreement with your old provider you will be able to keep your phone number. If you're buying a new device you will be able to check your number's eligibility during checkout.

Does T-Mobile Have Coverage in My Area?

T-Mobile service covers 96% of the United States, so it's very likely that you will have T-Mobile coverage. Before switching wireless carriers, however, you can check their coverage area with the official site or with our coverage article.

How Do You Port a Phone Number?

Like most carriers, T-Mobile will take care of porting your phone number over. Do not cancel your old account until your number is transferred to your T-Mobile account or you will risk losing the option of keeping the number.


In a nutshell: if you've been unsure about making the big move, the "uncarrier" may be the solution you're looking for. The range of available plans, including prepaid, no credit check, and unlimited, plus T-Mobile international perks, makes this provider's offerings tempting. Of course, you'll have your choice of all the top new phones - both iPhones and Android phones - along with affordable prices, and extensive T-Mobile coverage on a reliable 4G LTE network.

You know how to switch to T-Mobile, but if you're not completely sure yet, head on over to our cell phone plan comparison tool and check out some other options. The rest is up to you!

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