T-Mobile ends autopay discount for credit card users

A cell phone running on the T-Mobile wireless network. (Photo: The Desk)

T-Mobile is no longer offering an Autopay rebate to customers who pay their bills with a credit card, a move that could see some customers paying $5 to $15 more for phone service, depending on the plan and promotion.

The move will affect both consumer and business accounts, according to two T-Mobile employees familiar with the plan, and is expected to take effect in mid-May. Customers have not yet been officially informed of the change, but the company plans to start contacting affected customers from early March, the sources said.

A spokesman for T-Mobile did not respond to a request for comment sent Tuesday night, but reportedly confirmed details of the changes to website CNET. Details of T-Mobile’s changes to its autopay program were first published by The Mobile Report, a blog chronicling the company and its services.

For years, customers have been able to take advantage of T-Mobile’s Autopay discount by paying their bill with a credit card. The rebate saves at least $5 on the monthly cost of a postpaid cellular plan and is sometimes required to get prepaid cellular services — including those sold under the Metro by T-Mobile brand — or other services like home wireless Internet. Some customers save even more with the Autopay rebate when they add multiple lines of service or sign up for T-Mobile service during a promotional period (e.g., last year, T-Mobile for Business customers were able to purchase T-Mobile Business Magenta Max, priced at $90 without Autopay, $70 if they bring their own device and sign up for Autopay).

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Customers who wish to continue receiving the Autopay rebate have until mid-May to link a debit card to their account. Customers can also automatically pay their bills via e-check if they wish to receive the discount. If they don’t choose either option, they can still automatically pay their bills with a credit card, but they won’t get a discount — meaning their bills will increase by at least $5.

T-Mobile’s decision to end autopay perks for credit card payments mirrors a decision Verizon made two years ago. Then Verizon announced that it would only give its subscribers automatic payment discounts if they paid their bills with a debit card or checking account. Verizon made an exception for customers who automatically paid their bills with the Verizon Visa credit card.

T-Mobile doesn’t have a credit card, but it does have a virtual bank account called T-Mobile Money that comes with a physical debit card. Customers who don’t feel comfortable giving T-Mobile their direct banking details – presumably because T-Mobile doesn’t have the best track record of protecting sensitive customer data, which has occasionally led to lawsuits – could take advantage of a free T-Mobile Money account to easily keep their autopay rebate.