AT&T Paid Me $1,500 in Profit to Switch: My Experience, Strategy & How You Can Do Even Better!

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att switch providers deal

Huge Profit For Switching to AT&T

Back in September of last year I wrote about an offer from AT&T for Directv customers. As part of the deal, AT&T was paying customers up to $500 per line to switch to their service. I was also able to find other offers to stack it with. My experience of switching was anything but easy, so I thought I would share with you how it all went and how much money I saved along the way.

The Deal

att switch providers deal

As a recap, AT&T was offering $500 per line broken down into two parts. They gave $300 for porting in a phone number and $200 for trading in a phone. I also found that Ebates was offering $150 for a new AT&T account and as part of the deal they were giving the equivalent of $100 in Plenti points.

Strategy

In my original post I wrote that perhaps my family and I would all enjoy new cell phones as part of this promotion. While that sounded nice, I had a brand new Galaxy S6 Edge and my wife had a fairly new iPhone I had purchased for the Discover Apple Pay promotion. In other words, we didn’t need phones.

My strategy then became to purchase the cheapest phones I could find that were part of the AT&T Next program and then resell those phones at a slight loss. Regarding the $200 trade-in, my strategy was to find cheap phones on eBay that met the requirements for trade-in.

Ordering

att switch providers deal

 

After deciding to go for it, I ordered the service online. I ultimately decided to go for a Lumia 635 which was selling for $99 from AT&T and about 75% of that online. Two days after placing the order, a representative called my wife to explain that they didn’t have Lumias despite them showing as in-stock on the website. He then tried to force her into $500+ phones. After she asked to speak to a supervisor he stonewalled her and eventually hung up.

The next day my wife called back and there was absolutely no record of her order. Since I don’t want to drag this out, we escalated to a supervisor, got AT&T’s social media department to help and ultimately figured out that the first representative she had talked to deleted her order. Once it is gone, apparently there is no way to get it back. The only good thing that came out of this was getting in contact with AT&T’s social media manager Jeremie.

Ordering Again

After figuring out what happened, Jeremie said I had to order the phones again. Despite the Lumias as showing in stock, he said they didn’t have any so I would have to pick another phone. I ultimately settled on the HTC Desire 626 and placed my order through Ebates for the $150 portal credit. Within two days the phones were active and our numbers were ported over to AT&T. We didn’t use the new phones, but instead took the sims and placed them in our current phones.

Buying/Selling Phones

att switch providers deal
HTC Desire 626.

In order to make this profitable I had to do two things. I had to sell the HTC Desires and I needed to purchase 3 phones to trade-in to AT&T.

Trade-Ins: These phones had to be worth $10 on the AT&T website to be eligible for the $200 credit. After some compare and contrast, I purchased 3 of the Alcatel One Touch Evolve 2 phones on eBay for $33 each. While the AT&T website did show them as worth $10 when I ordered, by the time my trade-in codes came weeks later it had dropped. Luckily I had a screenshot and Jeremie jumped in to make sure the trade-in was honored.

Selling: The HTC Desire 626 phones I purchased from AT&T ended up selling fairly quickly on eBay for $150 each. After shipping, eBay and PayPal fees I netted $125 per phone. As part of the AT&T next agreement the phones cost me $185.10 each, so I took a $60 loss on each one.

A Few More Facts

In an effort to streamline this, I do want to cover a couple of more facts before moving on to the math.

  • The Ebates portal didn’t track properly and it took a few weeks, but I did receive the $150 in portal cashback after an investigation.
  • The $100 worth of Plenti points never came. After dealing with this for months (and waiting to write this post until it was resolved) I asked Jeremie if he could just credit my account $100 and he agreed.
  • Following the true debacle of our order getting deleted, Jeremie offered $20 off per month on the plan. We also receive $10 off per month since we are bundled with Directv.

The Math

att switch providers deal
My Directv bill also comes out of this credit and I still have $400 in prepaid cards from the trade-in as well.

So now that I have explained the long and often frustrating journey, let’s take a look at the math and whether or not switching was worth it.

Gains:

  • $900 for porting in 3 lines.
  • $600 for trading in 3 phones.
  • $150 portal cash back.
  • $100 credit in lieu of Plenti points.
  • $20 per month off the plan for life and $10 bundle savings.

Costs:

  • $99 for three trade-in phones.
  • $180 loss on selling the new phones.
  • Even with the discounts, the new plan is $25 more per month compared to my T-Mobile service.

Final Tallies

  • Total Gains: $1,750
  • Total Costs: $279
  • Final Profit: $1,471

My bill is about $133 after taxes and surcharges. Another way to look at this is that AT&T gave me 11 months of free service for switching. Also remember that I have no contract and can leave whenever I wish since I have received all credits, etc.

Was It Worth It?

I am not going to sugarcoat it. We went through a lot of hassle with this deal and I really don’t know why. That disgruntled phone agent deleting the order created a ton of problems, but Jeremie was there to fix things at every turn. He even gave me his cell number so we could text when there was an issue. In turn I didn’t abuse it and let him take time to do his work. In the end that meant that after the initial phone calls to figure out the order cancellation, I didn’t really have to do much other than answer texts. Yes it was worth it.

A Better Offer

att switch providers deal
I’m jealous. I should have waited.

Update: This offer only works if you have an ETF that needs to be paid. I hadn’t initially seen that. I don’t see any other offer for Directv customers that is comparable to what I received. Thanks to Andrew for pointing that out in the comments.

AT&T actually has an even better deal going on right now and it isn’t only for Directv customers. Currently you can get $650 per line when porting in and trading in a phone. They have added language to say your trade-in has to be the phone on the ported-in number, but you can work around that by purchasing a cheap phone and adding it to your number before the port. You can find the full details of the offer here.

Ebates still has the $150 offer as well and you might be able to get a $25 card for signing up through their referral program. The terms of that aren’t clear, but here is my referral link. I think you register the referral after signing up since it asks for your account number.

Conclusion

While this switch ended up being more time consuming than it should have been, we have been happy with the service and Jeremie from the social media team was amazing. I probably spent a total of 5 hours over the months working to get this resolved and came out ahead $1,471 which I think is still a good value for my time. What do you think? Was this a good deal? Let me know in the comments.


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16 COMMENTS

  1. If I am reading this correctly, it sounds like this could be stacked with the AT&T card bonus as well, which is a card I have been keeping my eye on for a while. Might be a good idea to get in on that card before the likely changing of benefits that may be in the works.

  2. I did something similar. I had all the same issues – poor customer service, surely reps, getting hung up on, refusal to honor the trade in deal even with a screen shot, etc. I did not give up and eventually got everything that was due to me but it was not easy. Perhaps it would have been easier with Jeremie but I didn’t have a Jeremie.

    Bottom line: NOT WORTH THE HASSLE .

    • Without Jeremie I would probably agree with you. It shocks me how really terrible their processes are and it almost surprises me how good he was in helping. That is why I always go to social media in order to get a resolution these days.

  3. I did this (sort of) with T-Mobile when they were offering Sprint customers to switch. It was a headache if you have a family plan . I did also come out on top and have now 9 mths of free service. Great post !

  4. Shawn,
    Help me understand this. It seems the new, better offer is different than the one you had. It looks like I would get reimbursed only what the etf is on my other line the balance left on my current plan. Am I reading this right?

    “The value of your AT&T Promotion Visa Prepaid Card will be determined by the amount of the Early Termination Fee or device payment plan balance noted on your final bill, minus the Buyback value of your trade-in, up to $650.”

  5. Hell, it took a month of back and forth just to get a $200 opening account bonus from Chase. I admire your perseverance but it should not be this difficult. if you were going to switch anyway to AT&T and you are a Directv customer, then these bonuses could be worth it. And now you’ll be able to get (back) unlimited mobile data.

  6. If you go into sam’s club, they offer $100 to $350 sam’s club gift cards to activate new lines and upgrades. You are still eligible for the BOGO on samsung, and unlimited data. At&t will still give up to $650 per line to make the switch. I signed a lady up the other day. Her and get husband got two $350 gift cards to Sam’s Club, BOGO on samsung, UNLIMITED DATA! AND DIRECTV GAVE HER A $300 SAM’S GIFT CARD. AT&T ALSO BOUGHT OUT HER VERIZON CONTRACT!! ENDED UP WALKING OUT WITH A FREE PHONE UNLIMITED DATA $1000s in gift cards to Sam’s. And all on 1 bill less than $200 a month (great package too) STOP INTO ANY SAM’S CLUB AND SEE WHAT YOU QUALIFY FOR!!!

  7. Holy… I have a full time job. Although it sounds nice in theory and worked out well for you. I don’t have the time, nor the luck (most likely) to luck into a decent representative to assist. Aside from all this, after previously moving from ATT due to network issues and terrible user experience overall, I’d rather pay the money and not want to throw my ATT networked handset out the window of my moving vehicle!

  8. ATT is horrible! I was considering doing this deal, back when ATT was allowing the $500 port/trade in bonus without having to pay for an unlimited data plan. However, first I needed to set up ATT’s DSL, Uverse. (Either Uverse TV or DirecTv is needed for this offer.) I couldn’t even get that far. I spend hour after hour on the phone with ATT, trying to get my non-ATT DSL switched over to Uverse. The end result was that I went twelve days without broadband internet service. I was never able to get DSL re-established and eventually had to get a cable line installed so I could get internet service. What is it with ATT???

    I

  9. I got an email from ATT about the same switch for directv customers: $300 credit for switching and $200 for trade in. The offer expires this month end. I am planning to use my old phones for trade in and I understand the process. What I do not understand is how does ebates come into picture? I would like to do the switch at the ATT store since I can show the guy the email and have his confirmation that I will get the $500 back. How do I use Ebates or how is the site related to ATT?

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