Sprint's Free Data for a Year Is Actually a Good Deal

Last year, Sprint tried to lure customers from rival carriers by offering to cut their bill in half. Now it's hoping to get you to switch by doing away with your bill entirely.

Credit: BravoKiloVideo/Shutterstock

(Image credit: BravoKiloVideo/Shutterstock)

Sprint is offering free unlimited data for the next year if you switch over from another carrier. Switch to Sprint by June 30, and the carrier will pick up the cost of its unlimited data plan through July 31, 2018. After that, your rate reverts to what Sprint normally charges for unlimited data. Currently, that's $60 for the first line, $40 for the second and $30 for subsequent lines.

There are a few catches to the offer, but they're fairly reasonable ones so far as these things go. The most significant one is that you'll have to bring over an eligible phone to use on Sprint's network. The list of eligible devices is pretty vast though: any iPhone since the iPhone 5c or 5s, any Google phone since the Nexus 5, any Galaxy S7 or S8, and the Moto E4, Z2 Play, G4 or G5 including Plus models. The complete list of phones is available at Sprint's sign-up site.

MORE: The Best Phone Carriers: Where Sprint Ranks

You'll have to visit that site to take advantage of the offer. Sprint is only offering the year's worth of free unlimited data if you do your switching online.

"Free" does not mean no cost whatsoever, by the way. You'll have to buy a SIM card from Sprint, which costs $2.99 plus another $10 for shipping and handling. You're on the hook for a monthly $1.99 admin fee, a $0.40 regulatory fee and any other taxes and fees that apply. For that reason, you'll need to enroll in autopay, unless you want Sprint to charge you $5 every month. At least Sprint is waiving the $30 activation fee, though you'll have to wait a couple billing cycles for that rebate.

Sprint's offer specifically targets Verizon customers, but AT&T and T-Mobile customers can switch over for the free data, too, if they've got an eligible phone. (A few of those eligible devices — most notably the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus — have to be from Verizon to qualify you for this offer, though.)

Perhaps the best part of Sprint's promotion is that multiple lines can take advantage of the free data offer so long as you have multiple phones that are eligible. That's potentially around $1,900 in annual savings for a family of four that might otherwise pay $160 a month for unlimited data under Sprint's regular pricing.

Sprint's unlimited plan includes 10GB of LTE hotspot data and video streaming in HD. T-Mobile, our pick for best unlimited data plan, features unlimited hotspot data but at 3G speeds and restricts video streaming to 480p resolution unless you pay an extra $5 a month on top of the regular $70 a month rate. Still, T-Mobile includes taxes and fees in its plan, and it's got a better performing network than what Sprint has to offer.

And that may explain why Sprint is getting so aggressive about attracting new customers from rival carriers. Sprint's betting that the substantial cost savings will be enough to get you to switch over and that after a year, you'll be willing to stick with the carrier.

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.