Today T-Mobile isn't crashing any parties. Well, not directly. But the magenta carrier has found another way to get up in the faces of its competitors. Ultimately, it's a move that may make the other carriers prefer the party-crashing: It's going to pay for you to move away from its rivals. The carrier thing is getting cut-throat.

As was rumored earlier today, T-Mo is announcing its "Get Out of Jail Free Card" offer. It will pay an entire family's Early Termination Fee (ETF) if they switch from another AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint, up to five lines worth. That could be up to $650 per line for switching, according to T-Mobile. If you've been thinking about switching anyway, but the ETF has been intimidating you, this might just tip the scales.

It's important to note that this isn't just for family plans. I just asked T-Mobile's CEO John Legere and he confirmed that this applies to individual plans as well.


It sounds like there are a few caveats, of course. Aside from the five line limit, you'll have to surrender your phones that are tied to your existing plan, and you'll need to get a new phone from T-Mobile, too. Are they taking your old phones and selling them on eBay to may for your early termination fee? Maybe. Also it has to be an "eligible" phone that you're trading in. No word yet on what that means, but suffice to say that your 5 year old flip phone may not cut it. Here's the official verbiage:

Starting tomorrow, customers from the three major national carriers who hand in their eligible devices at any participating T-Mobile location and switch to a postpaid Simple Choice Plan can receive an instant credit, based on the value of their phone, of up to $300. They then purchase any eligible device, including T-Mobile's most popular smartphones, now priced at $0 down (plus 24 monthly device payments, for well-qualified customers). After customers get the final bill from their old carrier (showing their early termination fees), they either mail it to T-Mobile or upload it to T-Mobile then sends an additional payment equal to those fees, up to $350 per line. Trade-in of their old phone, purchase of a new T-Mobile phone and porting of their phone number to T-Mobile are required to qualify.

So, it may not be the bargain of the century, but it may take the sting out of switching, so you're not losing money, at least. It's worth noting that T-Mobile says that this isn't a promotion or a limited-time offer. Sounds like it's here to stay, which is good news.

T-Mo, ever the snarkers, have created a "break-up letter website." It's basically a Madlibs type thing where you put in your carrier, and select whatever reason you're leaving. It's dumb, but kinda funny.

In other news, T-Mobile is claiming that it now has the fastest average data speed of any of the networks. Grab your salt-lick, of course. T-Mobile says it's about to send AT&T a cease and desist letter that would require them to stop claiming they are the fastest network. Gotta love the carrier wars.

UPDATE: It sounds like if you bought your phone with a carrier subsidy, and it's still pretty new and it good condition, you might actually be able to make a little money with the switch, because the phone's actual trade-in value may be higher than what you paid for it. Maybe.