Should you switch to T-Mobile?

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- If you're a Sprint, Verizon, or AT&T customer, T-Mobile is trying to entice you to break your contract and jump ship. As an incentive, T-Mobile is offering to pay the penalty fee, up to $350 for every line you switch.

Consumer Reports checks out the offer. T-Mobile commercials urge you to "break up with your carrier."

And its offer to pay those "early termination fees" extends to five phone lines. So it's especially targeted to families. Consumer Reports looked at how the T-Mobile offer works.

"When the early termination fee appears on your bill, you have to turn it in to T-Mobile for reimbursement. So you actually have to pay that money up front," the commercials claim.

Another step - turn in your old phone.

"You do have to buy a new phone for every line you switch, so that's an expense. And if your credit rating is less than stellar, you'll have to pay more up front for each phone," Mike Gikas of Consumer Reports said.

T-Mobile will ease the pain with a credit for the phone you turn in, up to $300. How much will they pay for your old phone? About $100 for an iPhone 4S, according to T-Mobile's website. About 160 for a Samsung Galaxy.

"What T-Mobile actually pays will depend on the phone and the condition it's in when you turn it in," Mike Gikas of Consumer Reports said.

Finally, choosing your plan. T-Mobile promises "all plans come with unlimited talk, text, and Web." But watch out! With the lower-cost plans you only get so much data before the speed slows down.
Still, there could be a reason to switch.

"We've crunched the numbers. And in most cases, T-Mobile's rates were cheaper than those from AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon," Mike Gikas of Consumer Reports said.

And if you're wondering how satisfied T-Mobile customers are, the latest survey of Consumer Reports' subscribers found it was one of the better major providers in many cities. If you're planning to turn in an old phone, Consumer Reports says take care to wipe it clean of personal data with a factory data reset.