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T-Mobile to change Autopay discount for some customers

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

T-Mobile will stop offering an Autopay discount to customers who pay their bills using a credit card, a move that could see some customers paying $5 to $15 more for phone service, depending on their plan and promotion.

The move will impact both consumer and business accounts, according to two T-Mobile employees familiar with the plan, and is set to go into effect in mid-May. Customers have not yet been formally notified about the change, but the company has plans to begin outreach to affected customers starting in early March, the sources said.

A spokesperson for T-Mobile affirmed the changes were coming, telling The Desk that they could start “as early as May.” Details of T-Mobile’s changes to its Autopay program were first published by The Mobile Report, a blog that chronicles the company and its services.

For years, customers have been allowed to take advantage of T-Mobile’s Autopay discount by using a credit card to cover their bill. The discount shaves at least $5 off the monthly cost of a post-paid wireless phone plan, and is sometimes required to receive pre-paid wireless service — including service sold under the Metro by T-Mobile brand — or other services like wireless home Internet. Some customers save even more through the Autopay discount if they add multiple lines of service or enroll in T-Mobile service during a promotional period (for example, T-Mobile for Business customers last year were able to get T-Mobile Business Magenta Max, priced at $90 without Autopay, for $70 if they brought their own device and enrolled in Autopay).

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

T-Mobile’s decision to end Autopay perks for credit card payments mirrors one that Verizon took two years ago. Then, Verizon announced it would only give its subscribers automatic payment discounts if they paid their bills using a debit card or by checking account. Verizon made an exception for customers who automatically paid their bills using the Verizon Visa credit card. (Verizon’s wallet-friendly prepaid wireless service, Visible, still allows customers to pay for the $30 a month phone service using their credit cards.)

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 bank information — presumably because T-Mobile hasn’t had the best track record when it comes to safeguarding sensitive customer information, something that has occasionally led to lawsuits — might take advantage of a free T-Mobile Money account simply to keep their Autopay discount.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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