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If you feel like two years is too long to wait to upgrade your phone, T-Mobile is one of three popular carriers that now offers an early update program for people like you.
The T-Mobile JUMP! and JUMP! On Demand plans are early upgrade programs that vary a bit from those offered by AT&T (read our review) and Sprint (check out our review): you can upgrade your smartphone whenever you want with no waiting period.
Upgrading to the latest phone will cost you, but the question is: Is T-Moble Jump! worth it?
We will help you answer this question by examining the Jump program, the cost of Simple Choice wireless plans, and then providing you a two year cost of ownership to help compare T-Moble against the competition.
And thanks to T-Mobile offering multiple variants of the Jump program, this analysis is not as straightforward as it could be.
But the short answer is that if you are someone who likes to change your phone more than once a year, or were going to pay extra for accident protection, T-Mobile Jump is for you.
How T-Mobile Jump Works
T-Mobile now offers multiple Jump early upgrade programs: The original Jump! program and the newer JUMP! On Demand.
Both offer relatively hassle free ways to upgrade your smartphones when you want for $10 a month - and include accident protection if you lose or damage your smartphone.
These programs are very similar, but do have slight differences in how they work.
How Jump! On Demand Works
The T-Mobile Jump program is fairly straight forward:
- Lease smartphone or tablet and get a Simple Choice plan.
- Enter into an 18-month contract.
- Then enroll in JUMP! On Demand for $10 per month. (Note: can only enroll in stores.)
- You will pay $0 upfront.
- Enrollment may only be made in stores.
- You will now be eligible to upgrade your phone when you want, up to 3 times in a rolling 12-month period.
- You never pay for an upgrade. Your just trade in your device for a new one.
- JUMP includes Premium Handset Protection to replace a damaged or lost phone or tablet!
How JUMP! Works
The introduction of the JUMP! On Demand program did not eliminate the original JUMP! program.
- Buy a smartphone or tablet and get a Simple Choice plan.
- Then enroll in JUMP! for $10 per month within 14 days of purchasing your device.
- You will now be eligible to upgrade your phone when you want, with no waiting periods or limits.
- Your just trade in your device and receive credit for your remaining payments, but only up to 50% of the original cost. You will pay any remaining device payments when you upgrade.
- JUMP includes Premium Handset Protection to replace a damaged or lost phone or tablet!
Just so you are clear: When you are ready to upgrade with Jump!, T-Mobile pays off the remaining payments up to half of the cost of your device.
You then pay the remaining balance, which will be the difference of (1) the original purchase price, less (2) 50% of the original purchase price, less (3) the sum of smartphone payments you already made.
Of course, it is possible that you will owe nothing at trade in after T-Mobile's 50% buy-out.
Our analysis shows that your cost to upgrade with Jump! will be $0 after you make 12 payments.
You will then trade in your old device and buy a new device with a new Equipment Installment Plan (EIP).
Key Differences Between Jump and Jump On Demand
The key differences with Jump On Demand and Jump are:
- Jump On Demand is a lease. And you never pay for an upgrade.
- T-Mobile Jump is the only upgrade program that lets you trade in your device and upgrade whenever you want without waiting periods.
- Jump does require you to pay off the remaining balance on your device, after receiving a credit equal to 50% of the original purchase price. (So this may be $0 or you may owe some money at trade-in.)
What About Score!?
T-Mobile Score is for you if you like to pay for the entire cost of your smartphone up front and want it upgrade at least once per year.
In that case, you can enter into Score! for just $5/month to qualify for T-Mobile's re-purchase of your device for 50% of the original purchase price.
And you get the same protection in case your device is damaged or lost.
For the purposes of the remaining discussion, Jump! and Score! are functionally equivalent. And we will, therefore, only distinguish the differences (if any) between Jump! and Jump! On Demand.
What Phones are Eligible for Jump Upgrades
Both T-Mobile Jump and Jump! on Demand offer the latest iPhones, Samsung Galaxy and Galaxy Note, and LG smartphones as part of the program.
So you will always be able to update to the latest and greatest devices available.
Eligibility & Credit Score Requirements
T-Mobile customers on any qualifying Simple Choice rate plan who financed a new smartphone or tablet within 14 days of purchase can enroll in Jump and Jump On Demand. You can also enroll if you are a new T-Mobile customer.
There is a credit check required for these early upgrade plan.
The good news is T-Mobile seems to be fairly lenient, and you will probably be approved if you have a credit score higher than 600-620, even with bankruptcy on your file. But you may be required to make a security deposit. To see what securities deposits are being made by others with poor credit, check out this page.
If you are denied, you may be able to speak with a Credit Analyst and have the system's automatic decision overridden.
If you are interested in a T-Mobile no credit check Simple Choice or Simply Prepaid plan, you will not be eligible for the early upgrade programs. You can read our review of T-Mobile's no credit check and prepaid plans here.
Simple Choice Plans: How They Work
With T-Mobile Simple Choice, you get the following with all plans:
- Unlimited talk, text, and data (at 2G speeds), you just choose how much 4G LTE data you need.
- Data Stash with 3 GB and 5 GB plans - which rolls unused data from one month into the next one.
- Calls and texts to and from Mexico and Canada are included.
- Unlimited streaming music with T-Mobile's Music Freedom.
- Single line plans start at $50 and and family plans start at $80 per month.
Now you just need to know the pricing for LTE data. The way this works with T-Mobile is that each line gets its own allotment of LTE data. This is great if you don't want your kids using up all the fast data in your plan.
The first line is the line with the highest amount of data. And then there is small discount on the data cost for the 2nd line. And a slightly bigger discount applicable to each additional line after that.
You can buy your LTE data for each line in plans of 1 GB, 3 GB, 5GB and Unlimited. Pricing is as follows:
Monthly Cost of LTE Data
Each Add'l Line
1 GB LTE
3 GB LTE
5 GB LTE
As a reminder, if you exceed your LTE data limits, your line may then experience slower data speeds.
But, if you have a 3GB or 5GB plan, you will get to rollover your unused data. This may help prevent overages.
Device Access Fees
Unlike AT&T and Verizon, T-Mobile does not charge any hidden device access fees on top of the fees for LTE data.
As a reminder, T-Mobile will charge you $15 for a new SIM card when you switch to T-Mobile. We will include this as part of the upfront costs in the 2-Year Cost of Ownership below.
Two Year Cost of Ownership
We are trying to provide a 2-year cost of ownership for similar phones and plans amongst all the major wireless providers.
For each comparison, we are using the latest 16 GB iPhone as a point of comparison. We chose the iPhone because of its popularity. Other leading Android smartphones from Samsun and LG have similar pricing.
For the data plans used below, we chose a 5GB individual plan and a family share plan with each line purchasing 5 GB of data (for a total of 10GB of monthly LTE data). This most closely resembles the plans used in the other 2-Year Cost of Ownership tables.
Individual - 5GB LTE Data
+ Jump On Demand**
Family Using 2 Lines with 5GB Data Each
+ Jump On Demand**
* The upfront cost is the $15 per device charge for new SIM cards
** This analysis does not compare how much you will "save" by frequently upgrading your device over the 2-year period. We solve that riddle next.
*** LIMITED TIME OFFER: Right now, T-Mobile is offering you the option to lease a new iPhone 6s for as little as $5/month for 18 months if you enroll in JUMP On Demand and trade in an eligible smartphone!
You will need to trade in an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Galaxy S6 Edge+, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6 or Galaxy Note 5 to get the $5/month pricing.
The price rises to $10 per month with an iPhone 5s, Galaxy S5 or Galaxy Note 4 trade in, or to $15 per month with the trade in of most other smartphones.
Assuming you get the $5/month pricing over the entire 24 months of your two year cost of ownership, this reduces the cost of Jump On Demand over two years to $2,055 for one line and to $3,630 for two lines)!
How Much Am I Paying for the Phone?
In the tables above, the portion of the monthly cost for a 16 GB iPhone 6s will be $27.08 per month. (Note: For a limited time, you can lease a new iPhone for as little as $20/month by enrolling in Jump on Demand and trading in an eligible smartphone.)
If you just get a Simple Choice plan, you will pay a total of $649.92 for the phone over two years. You will then own the phone and can re-sell it, probably for about $200. Or you can continue for another year or two with the phone and reduce your monthly cost by $27.
With JUMP! On Demand, you will pay the same $325 $240 per year, plus another $120 per year for the program access fee, for a total of $445 $360/year or $890 $720 over two years to lease your phone. (Note: Prices reduced to reflect current Jump on Demand Promotion.)
With the original JUMP! program, if you upgrade after one year, you will have paid for 50% of the installments of the phone. And since T-Mobile will pay 50% of the original cost when you trade in the phone, it will also cost you $0.
But, if you wanted to upgrade earlier than a year, or if you needed to take advantage of the accident protection, you would have had to come out of pocket to upgrade and trade in your phone.
Since you need to trade in your phone regardless of which Jump program you choose, I am leaning towards Jump on Demand over Jump.
Is Jump Worth It?
If you notice, we do not factor into our analysis the cost of getting a new phone more than every two years.
"Why not?", you ask.
The short answer is that T-Mobile and its early upgrade programs are not worth it unless you plan on upgrading your phone multiple times each year or were going to pay for the accident protection plan anyway.
The Simple Choice plan prices are comparable to AT&T and Verizon. But with AT&T Next, you will have the ability to upgrade early, but not multiple times in a year.
And while you may have doubts about the T-Mobile network, they are spending a lot of money right now to improve speed and reliability.
If you are going to stick with T-Mobile, we recommend the Jump! On Demand over the regular Jump! program because:
- You will never owe any extra when you turn in your phone under any circumstances.
- It usually takes a year of payments under the original Jump! program not to owe anything when you upgrade under that program.
- Upgrading three times in any 12-month period seems like plenty.
Switching to T-Mobile
If you are under contract with another carrier, T-Mobile usually offers promotion to pay off your existing smartphones and early termination fees. So there is no reason to delay switching.
The Bottom Line
There is a lot to like about T-Mobile:
- If you like to change phones multiple times each year, then you will like T-Mobile Jump and Jump On Demand.
- Another big plus is that both Jump options includes insurance that protects you if your phone is damaged, lost or stolen. With AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon, you need to pay extra.
- We like is the improvements T-Mobile is making to its LTE network.
- You can shop a small data plan with T-Mobile knowing that the only cost to you when you go over your LTE data limit is slower network speed.
- Data Stash is available for free on 3 GB and 5 GB LTE plans - and it lets you rollover unused data to the next month.
- T-Mobile will cover your early termination fees if you are switching from another carrier.
- Unlimited calling and text to/from Mexico and Canada
For most wireless consumers, we are not recommending spending $120/year with T-Mobile for an early upgrade plan. But, if you are intersted in early upgrades, we recommend JUMP! On Demand over the classic JUMP! program.