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Another week, another questionable business decision from T-Mobile.

For ages now, T-Mobile has offered phone promotions via 24-month bill credits. These include deals for trade-ins and new lines, and customers would receive a bill credit spread out over the length of the installment plan (EIP).

Customers always had the option to pay off their devices early, and their bill credits would continue. This allowed customers to get some of their credit limit back to start new EIPs. That will soon no longer be an option.

According to a document shared with us here at The Mobile Report, T-Mobile will soon require any devices receiving bill credits (called “Recurring Device Credits”, or RDC) to maintain an accompanying EIP. If a customer were to pay off their device early, the bill credits would stop.

Obviously this isn’t a pro-consumer move. Many customers, myself included, enjoyed the freedom of being able to pay off devices early and keep the bill credits. As long as you stayed a customer, it shouldn’t matter right? Apparently that is no longer the case.

There is one silver lining: existing devices purchased on EIP before July 1st are not impacted. This means if you bought a device on promo already, or buy one before July 1st, you’ll be able to pay it off early and keep the bill credits even after that date.

It’s unclear why T-Mobile is making the change. It’s possible they want to reduce the number of customers buying devices via promo, paying them off, and selling them. The company’s recent acquisition of Mint Mobile required the company to commit to a reasonable unlock policy, and T-Mobile’s own customers just have to use devices on-network for 40 days before unlocking. Requiring customers to stay on an installment to receive promos could be a way around the generous unlock policies, and prevent people from buying and selling devices.

It’s also possible the company is trying to encourage more adoption of their Go5G Next plan. One of the biggest perks of the plan is the ability to upgrade devices every year, instead of two years. The plan is even mentioned in the document above, so this is likely at least partially a reason for the change.

The new rule goes into effect on July 1st. If you were planning to buy some devices on promo, like the excellent Pixel 8a trade-in deal or the Moto razr+ 2023 deal, you may want to do so before the end of the month.

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