Sprint Half-Price Plans: Deal or No Deal?

Sprint is trying to give AT&T and Verizon customers serious incentive to switch. Starting today (Dec. 5), the number-three carrier is giving switchers from those two providers the chance to halve their monthly fees while keeping the same plans. Sprint will also pay your early termination fees.

This means that if you have a four-line, 15GB monthly plan on AT&T's Mobile Share Value and are on the company's early-upgrade service Next, you'd pay $140. If you take your numbers to Sprint, you'll get the same four-line, 15GB package for $70. If you want to add a line (up to 10) to your group after switching, you can get it at the same half-price rates.

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That sounds like quite the deal, but the offer comes with several strings attached. You'll need to turn in your Verizon or AT&T handsets to qualify for the deal, and buy a new device on Sprint's installment/lease programs. If you don't hand over your old phone within 30 days of activating your new device, Sprint will charge you $200 per device. 

Say you got the iPhone 6 on AT&T Next with a 3GB Mobile Share plan ($65 a month) and paid off two of your 24 monthly payments of $27.09. Sprint will shave the wireless fee to $32.50, but you'd have to turn in your iPhone, and buy another one on Sprint (24 monthly payments of $27 on Easy Pay).  Over two years, you'd save $780 ($32.50 x 12), and $725.82 after factoring in the $54.18 you'd already paid for your iPhone in this example.

In general, the amount you eventually save by switching depends on how much you'd already paid for your old handset or whether you choose to hang on to it. Whatever you decide, you could save at least $500 over two years.

Cost isn't the only thing you should consider, though. Sprint's 4G LTE network covers some 540 cities in the nation, but its performance has been lackluster. In our 4G speed tests of the Big Four carrier in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago, the network came in last place in the first three. Sprint's enhanced Spark LTE helped the provider finish in second place in Chicago But Spark is available in only 46 cities (as of Sep. 17 2014).

For those looking for a good way to cut down their monthly expenditure, Sprint's half-price plans are a good option if speedy data performance doesn't bother you. But if you want reliable network speeds, you're better off sticking with AT&T or Verizon.

Staff writer Cherlynn Low needs to budget better. Follow her @cherlynnlow. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide on Facebook.

Cherlynn Low

Cherlynn is Deputy Editor, Reviews at Engadget and also leads the site's Google reporting. She graduated with a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University before joining Tom's Guide and its sister site LaptopMag as a staff writer, where she covered wearables, cameras, laptops, computers and smartphones, among many other subjects.