Would You Switch Your Phone Carrier for $450?

Pricey smartphone plans may not technically be an “essential” expense—like rent or groceries—but, let’s be honest, nixing our phones altogether often isn’t the first place we look when it comes to tightening our budgets.

That’s why we love any opportunity to reduce our phone bills, whether it’s negotiating with the company or cutting back on data usage and unnecessary charges.

Now, there’s a new cost-cutting strategy, and you can thank good old capitalism for it: Starting today, AT&T is offering T-Mobile customers up to $450 in credit if they transfer their accounts to the company.
What’s the deal? The two carriers are battling it out in a testy price war to win customers. T-Mobile made the first move in March, when they shook up in the industry by deciding to eliminate contracts—and later announced they were also dropping roaming fees and slashing per-minute prices.

It likely spurred AT&T to make its own tempting pitch: a $200 credit for every phone line switched over, plus up to $250 for trading in a phone (the exact credit depends on the make and model of the device). The promotion only applies to current T-Mobile customers, and the credit can be used toward any charges for devices or monthly services.

Before you rush to make the swap, there could be other ways to lower your monthly costs. First take a detailed look at your phone bill to identify any unnecessary charges. You can also head to LowerMyBills.com to explore less expensive options—or call the company directly to negotiate. After all, phone carriers appear eager to offer deals, and probably won’t let loyal customers go that easily.

Anna Williams is an Editorial Assistant at LearnVest. She graduated from New York University, where she majored in journalism and Italian. Previously, she has worked with iVillage.com, Harper’s Bazaar, Brides, TheKnot.com, Cosmopolitan and The Foreign Policy Association. She lives in Brooklyn and loves to explore the city on foot. Follow Anna Williams on Twitter and Google+.