There’s no shortage of carriers who’ll gladly recycle your old smartphone in exchange for bill credit. Case in point: November saw T-Mobile offer $200 to Sprint customers who signed up for the Un-carrier’s Simple Choice plan, and AT&T last month began offering up to $650 for customers who switch from their current carrier.
But in the category of providers willing to bend over backwards to attract your business (or at the very least your attention), U.S. Cellular may have taken the crown. Starting today, it’s offering up to $300 credit for devices even if they’ve got a cracked or scratched screen.
The new promotion, much like T-Mobile’s and AT&T’s offering, requires that you port your number and cancel service with your current carrier. So long as you’ve completed those two prerequisites, though, you can fork over your banged-up phone for a maximum of $300 (providing it’s functional, of course), and U.S. Cellular will pay any early termination fees incurred.
As with many trade-in programs, you don’t quite get credit on the spot. Trade in the phone at one of U.S. Cellular’s brick-and-mortar locations and you’ll get a $100 promo card day and date, and a $200 promo card via the mail within 6 — 8 weeks. And in order to qualify for ETF credit, you’ll have to enroll in U.S. Cellular’s Device Protection+ program, pricing for which starts at $8.99 a month.
“We know that there are people who are looking to change wireless carriers, but they have broken screens that have no trade-in value, and therefore can’t afford to make the switch, said Vice President of Marketing for U.S. Cellular Joe Settimi in a related statement. “We wanted to remove that barrier for people and give them an easy way to upgrade to the high-quality U.S. Cellular network and get a better wireless value than Verizon and AT&T.”
Whether the deal’s a good one depends on your perspective. It’s true that a cracked smartphone commands significantly less market value than a nick-free handset, but replacing a damaged display isn’t always an expensive enterprise. HTC offers a free one-time screen replacement if you damage your phone within the first six months of ownership, and a myriad of third-party outfits will happily perform a repair for $100-$150. But problems can arise with third-party repairs, and selling the device yourself is undoubtedly more time-consuming than handing it to one of the the friendly clerks at U.S. Cellular. It’s ultimately a matter of convenience.
Separately, U.S. Cellular’s discounting its home Internet service for a limited time. The firm is offering its home phone handset, wireless router, hot spot, and modem devices for a penny per month (normally $20 to $30 per month) for a specified period, and also tossing in two months of free service. It’s also launching a referral plan for existing customers: if you refer a friend to U.S. Cellular and that friend later decides to activate a smartphone on the carrier’s Shared Connect plan, you and your friend get $50.