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T-Mobile will drop up to $650 to seduce you away from your current carrier

As we learned the other night when T-Mobile CEO John Legere was kicked out of AT&T’s party, the smallest U.S. carrier came to CES 2014 with the intention of making noise. It succeeded on Wednesday afternoon when Legere announced an aggressive new initiative for T-Mobile: It will pay AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint subscribers up to $650 to drop their current provider and move over to T-Mobile.

Don’t think that T-Mobile will just hand you a bundle of cash, of course. The carrier (or Uncarrier as it prefers to be called) will pay the cost of your termination fee up to a maximum of $350, and then up to $300 for trading in your old phone. Proof that you’ve broken your contract with the intention of switching to T-Mobile has to be sent in to T-Mobile’s website dedicated to converting customers, Switch2TMobile.com. The offer is good for up to five lines according to the site.

Of course, there are a couple of catches. For one, you don’t have a choice of trading in that old phone – or where to get the new one. If you’re switching, you’ll have to trade in your existing phone and purchase a new phone from T-Mobile. To incentivize this, T-Mobile is making most of the new phones $0 down, and will offer that credit of up to $300 depending on your trade-in phone. For example, a 16GB iPhone 5S will net you $282 in trade-in credit, which is actually a profit for you if you bought it for $200 from AT&T. You’ll also have to port your number and start a new T-Mobile plan, of course.

CEO John Legere is calling this a “‘get out of jail free card” for families, and from the looks of it, he’s not underselling it. Shelling out up to $650 for new customers is a huge up front investment for any company.

T-Mobile’s latest offer is a considerable attack on other carriers, and in the case of AT&T, might even be considered a counterattack. AT&T recently started offering up to $200 for each T-Mobile line that would switch to it’s network. Legere and T-Mobile not only upped the ante by over three times the amount, but also made the point that you could play both offers to your advantage. “Try the network, try what we’re doing, and if it doesn’t work, these pricks will pay you to come back,” Legere said on stage.

Seems like a fair deal to us. At least there’s some real competition for customers within the realm of mobile service providers now, even if it is just from T-Mobile continuously poking the bear that is AT&T.