Sprint Adds Amazon Prime to 40GB, But Fees Are a Killer

Sprint wants its big data subscribers to get a little something extra with their wireless service. So the carrier is adding 12 months of Amazon Prime to its 40GB data plan. It's an intriguing offer, but before the promise of Amazon Prime has you snapping up Sprint's deal, there's a fee you need to know about first.

Sprint's 40GB XXL plan costs $100 a month and includes unlimited talk and text on top of your rather huge data allotment. The Amazon Better Choice XXL throws in 12 months of Amazon Prime service, which features free two-day shipping from the online retailer's warehouses, and access to perks such as Prime Video and Prime Music.

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But that $100 monthly rate from Sprint doesn't include a $20 access fee for each line on the XXL plan. An individual subscriber would pay $120 a month. Considering that Sprint's unlimited data plan costs $75 a month and features no access fee, an individual would be better off opting for unlimited data and paying for a $99 Amazon Prime subscription separately. The money you'd save in monthly access fees plus the lower rate would pay for your Amazon Prime subscription after three bills.

The calculations change somewhat for families. A family of four would pay $180 a month for the 40GB plan once access fees are factored in. (Interestingly, that's the same rate you'd pay for unlimited data through Sprint.) The $80 in monthly access fees a family of four would pay is about 80 percent of what you'd pay for a year of Amazon Prime — and you'll be paying those fees every month.

In other words, the Amazon Prime access is a nice throw-in if you were really set on grabbing a 40GB data plan, but it's not really an incentive to switch plans. (Why does a 40GB plan costs $100, when you can get unlimited data for $75? That's a question for Sprint.)

Still, Sprint is increasingly turning to extras to attract new subscribers or get existing ones to upgrade their plans. Earlier this year, the carrier unveiled a partnership with Amazon that lets Sprint customers subscribe to Prime on a month-by-month basis. The $10.99-a-month offer wouldn't make sense over the course of a year, but for customers who just need to use Amazon Prime for a limited time, it's definitely a perk.

Sprint is hardly the only carrier turning to these kinds of deals to attract customers. Verizon currently offers three months of access to HBO Now, the pay channel's standalone streaming app, when you upgrade or activate a new line. T-Mobile offers its customers a 30 percent discount on a 12-month subscription to Sling TV, another streaming service aimed at cord cutters. AT&T's benefits leverage its ownership of DirecTV and U-Verse — get your TV service from those providers, and you can sign up for an unlimited data plan with AT&T's wireless service.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.