In A Tight Spot, A Prepaid Phone Can Replace A Broken One

Reader Brandi’s expensive T-Mobile Dash broke after only 7 months, leaving her phoneless and sad. The T-Mobile store was unhelpful — as she’d already used her phone discount to buy the now-broken Dash. What to do?

Brandi says:

Recently my expensive T-Mobile Dash broke after only 7 months of use. I had to get another phone, so I went to my local T-Mobile store and browsed their selection, but was told I would only be able to get a “partial” discount on the price of a phone because I had gotten a discount several months before that, and you only get the full phone discount once every 22 months. Even with the meager discount they offered, the price of a new phone would have set me back at least $90 for all but the least expensive phone that was a little too basic for me.

I left and went and read some information online and found out that you can buy a packaged t-mobile phone that is sold as a “pre-paid” phone and simply insert your SIM car and have it work like any other phone. They had one model available with a camera (which was my only requirement) and I purchased it for $55.

When the salesperson was ringing me up, she started trying to set up the phone. I told her not to worry about it because I wasn’t going to be using it as a pre-paid phone, but I was going to put my own SIM card in there. She got really quiet and sad that she would “have to pretend that I didn’t hear that.”

My guess is that they don’t want it leaking out that you can do that, because even though the phones are cheaper, when they sell a phone as pre-paid, the price for minutes more than makes up for it.

I inserted my SIM card into the phone and it worked perfectly and just like any other new phone I would have purchased.

Don’t worry, Brandi — T-Mobile is still making lots of money having you as a customer — and a happy one at that. We’re sure they won’t begrudge you the use of a prepaid phone.

What do you do when your phone breaks? eBay a used one? Unlock an old model? Does this tip work on other carriers? Share your phone emergency tips in the comments.