Sprint Free Unlimited Basic 1 Year – Is it Worth Switching to BYOD?

Updated on October 31, 2018

Sprint's Free Unlimited for 1 Year (Bring Your Own Device)

Want free “Unlimited” cell phone service for a year? If you own your own eligible device (BYOD) and are willing to switch from another carrier, this Sprint Free Unlimited offer might be for you. Offer expires 9/13/18 TBD.

Sprint is offering a free year of unlimited data, talk, and text for 1 year when you bring your own device. They've offered it in the past but I'm taking a closer look now because we have several accounts which will longer be under contract soon. It seems like a good time to see if we can save some money by switching some accounts from Verizon. In the past, the free year was for essentially what is now called “Unlimited Plus” but now it is for “Unlimited Basic” which I explain below.

Sprint Free Unlimited Offer

This is only for people who own their phone – that means you're not under any kind of contract or payment plan for your phone. You can move your eligible phone over to Sprint and get a free year of “Unlimited Basic” service which includes 480p video streaming, gaming up to 2Mbps, 500mb hotspot, Hulu, and Mexico and Canada roaming (unlimited talk text and 5gb data). This is normally $60/month x 12 = $720 value. Keep in mind there are 2 “Unlimited” services, which is a bit confusing because, well, unlimited is not really unlimited then right? Sort of. What's the difference?

The regular price (outside of this offer) for Unlimited Plus is $10 more than Unlimited Basic and mainly gives you faster speeds and more hotspot data (15 gigs versus 500 megs). If you use hotspot a lot, that's a big difference. Do you want to stream HD quality videos? “Basic” only lets you stream 480p DVD quality, not full HD (unless of course you're connected to Wifi then it doesn't matter). Offer is valid until 9/13/18 (which looks like right around when the new iPhone will be released).

How to Sign Up

  1. Click the link  (Expires TBD)
  2. Check if your phone is eligible. If yes, you must switch from another carrier.
  3. Order your SIM card ($2.99+$10 shipping+tax).
  4. Activate your phone

What happens after 1 year?

After you've had a full year to try out the service, instead of free, you pay:

  • Line 1: $60/month
  • Line 2: $40/month
  • Lines 3-5: $20/mo/line

Is it really free? Any fees?

The terms show that a $2.50 admin fee and a $0.40 regulatory fee and “other taxes and fees” apply. The $30 activation fee is waived and the credit for this shows up within 2 bills. Based on this I expect to see a bill for the activation fee on the first month and the admin and regulatory fee on every bill. You also need to keep your account on Autopay otherwise you'll pay $5/month per line which I think is reasonable. They're giving you free service, the least you can do is do autopay to cover the above mentioned fees.

You'll need to buy a SIM Card for $2.99 + $10 shipping + taxes. It should arrive overnight according to the terms but 2 day shipping according to a chat rep I spoke with.

So, I'm expecting a couple dollars per month for “free unlimited basic” service plus maybe some “other taxes and fees”. A few people have commented that this is really how it works.

Here's my bill. First month was $37.77 including an activation fee (which is sometimes waived, but not when I signed up). Second month is $4.00 for Sprint surcharges and government taxes and fees.

sprint free year bring your own device bill

Who is this definitely NOT for?

If you need a lot of hotspot usage, high speed gaming, or need to watch lots of full HD 1080p videos when you're not at home, then this is probably not for you. If it is business critical for you to be connected all the time like me, this is not for you. If your life revolves around your phone, this is not for you.

Data Prioritization (or deprioritization)?

Sprint's small print says “Data deprioritization during congestion” so your data may slow down during busy time. This is to be expected with unlimited plans. Verizon Wireless does it too on their cheapest Unlimited plan “goUnlimited”: During times of congestion, your data may be temporarily slower than other traffic (only after 22GB/mo on Beyond Unlimited or 75 GB/mo on Above Unlimited).

Below is a summary of the thresholds at which point your data can be slowed down during network congestion (i.e. deprioritization).

Sprint Threshold Verizon Threshold
Unlimited Basic 50 gb Go Unlimited 0 gb
Unlimited Plus 50 gb Beyond Unlimited 22 gb
Above Unlimited 75gb

sprint unlimited thresholds

 

I still pay for a specific amount of data on my Verizon account and not sure if I will move to Unlimited. Because of the additional lines we have, moving over them to Unlimited was more expensive (and not helpful for me as we have enough data). There was some scolding and re-scolding due to constant video streaming while not on Wifi (and background Facebook data draining) but it has mostly improved.

Which phones are eligible?

Most iPhones are eligible with the newer iPhones having to be from Verizon. There are many other phones on the list. You can check if your phone is eligible here.

Is Sprint service good?

The Sprint Free Unlimited offer is probably good enough for a lot of people – but not heavy phone users (yes, thats all of us out there walking around glued to our phones). I used to have it for 7-8 years straight and only switched to Verizon because there were a couple important spots that didn't get service. That was a long time ago – maybe 10 years ago. I now have Verizon and ATT, and Verizon has the best coverage/service overall in my experience in the NYC area and, of course, it costs more. I'd put AT&T and Sprint as tied for 2nd place in terms of coverage.

Sprint is probably very good for a lot of people I know. This is especially true because they won't have to worry about going over the limits or getting yelled at for using up their entire family data plan. Watch all the facebook video's you want!

And… if you don't like it, just cancel your free service and switch back to whatever service you like better.

 

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Comments

  1. If Sprint can be compared to their soon-to-be partner, T-Mobile, then I’d question how good the coverage is. I left Verizon for a few months for T-Mobile and the number of dropped calls and “out of service” situations were untenable. I quickly moved back to Verizon and despite paying $100 to T-Mobile for SIM cards and to port my numbers, I felt like I’d been let out of prison when I moved back to Verizon. All I’m saying is buyer beware and that free lunch might not be free.

    • I agree the tmobile service is spotty (in the NYC area anyway). I have tried them in the past and didn’t like it but Sprint’s service is not TMobile’s. I’m not sure how they plan to merge the networks after their disaster of merging with Nextel – that was another network with completely different cell technology as is the case w/Sprint & TMob.

    • Which service do you have that doesn’t do that?
      Verizon does it too “goUnlimited: During times of congestion, your data may be temporarily slower than other traffic (only after 22GB/mo on Beyond Unlimited or 75 GB/mo on Above Unlimited)”. I’ve added this to the post – thanks for mentioning the concern.

  2. I tried it a few weeks ago… This offer. It was terrible. Terrible. Terrible. When I was in any place with other people, small stadium, small amusement park, within 3 miles of the airport or at the airport, or any place with a moderate number of people, they deprioritize and service goes to basically zero. It took minutes to load a basic webpage. There’s no 50gb trigger. It’s immediate and no notification. Sprint has terrible customer service, no visual voicemail support, no hotspot with this plan, no talk and data, no hd voice and so much more missing. Very slow
    data in most places. Stay away. I went back to TMobile within a few days. Don’t waste your effort on Sprint.

    • Thanks for the notes. I’d like to correct a couple things plus some more thoughts.
      1) You do get 500mb hotspot. It’s not much but its there. This cheap plan is not for people who need hotspot data.
      2) Visual Voicemail is available only on select Android BYOD devices. Yea, sucks.
      3) Customer service terrible? Yes, I recall them being terrible a long time ago but I don’t give Verizon high ratings either which I’ve had for many years now. So, who has good customer service anyway?
      4) Sounds like you’re more likely someone who needs a heavier plan.
      5) Coverage – I’ve had your type of bad experience on TMobile so I’m surprised to hear you’re going back to them.

      • TMobile coverage is generally really good. However you always need to keep up with new phone because of all the new frequencies being added. The 600mhz network is about a year old and only select phones have it.

        • Yes, I’ve read that the latest iPhone X and 8 don’t work on the new TMobile network. Which phone are you using and in what cities?

    • I have a Moto xPure and do have HD voice. I signed up before Sprint updated the Unilimted plans.
      I switched from Verizon.
      Verizon does have better coverage but Sprint works almost as well in the area we use our phones.
      My bill is about $4 a month.

  3. I’ve been on the free plan for 10 months now. I’m not staying. They have NOT done near enough to improve co erage or data speeds.

    • What cities do you use the service? Do you have the Unlimited Basic or Plus plan? Also what service did you have before and what are you going to switch to?

    • Moved one line, bill is routinely over $20 (taxes, fees). Data speeds have always sucked in my half of my metro area and Sprint has only made them worse via two network “upgrades” in the last 8 years. Now I often get errors in apps that I have no internet service yet have 75% or more LTE signal per the phones.

      • My bill is $4.00 in the second month. I posted a screen shot above. Could you share your the breakout of your fee? Mine is $0.40 Regulatory Charge + $2.50 Administrative Charge = $2.90 for Sprint Surcharges. Then $0.90 State 911 Tax and $0.20 State Sales Tax = $1.10 Government Tax and Fees. There’s also a $5 fee for the plan less the $5 Autopay Plan discount = $0 for the Plan and Equipment. I think once we see what your breakout is we’ll see the problem.

  4. I did this last year and have zero regrets. The total for two lines has been less than $6/month. If I compared it to TMobile, which I had for the previous 15 years, I wouldn’t be able to tell you the difference. I live in Vegas, and travel to LA, SLC, and Portland regularly with few issues with coverage. Totally worth it.

    • Do you have the Unlimited Basic or Unlimited Plus? I think there was only 1 unlimited plan back then equivalent to the Plus plan. Also, are you going to keep the plan and pay the $60+$40=$100 for the 2 lines?

  5. Sprint still has the whole ‘no data if you are on a voice call’ thing for almost every current phone. It is frustrating.

    • Why do you say that? This is what Sprint says:

      Liz: All the latest phones that are available in the market are capable of talk and surf at the same time. Phones such iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X, Samsung Galaxy S9, S9+, Note 8 and Note 9.

      • Yeah, I brought that to their attention along with a post in their support forums by a Sprint employee stating the same. The response was “oops” and promised to take the THREE YEAR OLD post down (not sure if they did or not). Don’t believe them if they tell you most (if any) phones do voice and data simultaneously.

  6. Last year I tried switching to this free plan, but Sprint had put a restriction on which MNVO carriers they would allow to switch from. My carrier at the time was Redpocket, so they would not allow the switch. I do not see anything listing specific MVNO carriers and I’ve seen comments stating non-Sprint MNVOs are now allowed. When I was chatting with web rep, I was told my phone and number are eligible to switch and I ordered the Sim. My current carrier is Mint Mobile. Will I have a rude surprise and find I’m not eligible after all?

    • I think if you click the link, and the eligibility check says you are eligible, then you are good to go. I haven’t specifically tried this scenario but did they say you were eligible last time then change their mind?

  7. My son and I switched our lines over on Saturday (after a long, painful mess with numerous phone reps, AND after having had to buy return Sprint phones since our Verizon phones were deemed ineligible). Today, Monday, we are porting them back. There’s no coverage at our home unless we’re on wifi, no coverage at his school, none at my job, in fact I only evidently very briefly passed through a miniscule data pocket on my way to work in the few seconds it took me to drive past the state fair grounds. Guess Sprint thinks that’s the only area worth servicing in the entire Milwaukee area? Or maybe they have a little service on the wealthy east side, but I live on the regular people west side and work on the flat broke northwest side, so no data for me. Or my son. So….yeah, saving money was a nice idea, but then again, I could save on rent by moving into my car if I wanted an extreme life downgrade.

    Funny thing is, round about the turn of the millennium I switched from ATT to Sprint, and spent a horrible month during which I was hit with hundreds of dollars of roaming charges even though during that month I only went from home to work to school, all of which were within a few miles of downtown Denver. After this I swore no more Sprint, ever again, but then when I heard about the BYOD free year deal I thought surely they must have improved a bit in 18 years??? And a different city, no less, one where the Sprint reps assured me the coverage was excellent. Yeah, maybe if I was a cow and lived in a dairy barn at State Fair, but then, they’re only there for a few weeks anyway. Anyway, I’ll leave Sprint to the cows and creampuffs, as soon as I get off work I’ll go groveling back to Verizon and then hope hope hope I can return the $350 worth of Sprint phones I bought on eBay. And next time I think of switching to Sprint, even if they offer to pay me…NO!!!! In 2000 I lasted one (horrible, expensive) month. In 2018, 2 days was my max. In future, never sounds about right.

    • Yea I looked up Sprint coverage in the Milwaukee area and it’s not so good, so I’m not surprised. Painful…yes, I had that too switching over an extra phone (from TMobile). My advice: never listen to store reps… its a little secret that they can boost the signal in the stores to fool you (all of the carriers, not just Sprint). Also the store reps usually don’t know much. They are, after all, sales people. In the NYC area the service is generally good but I rely on Verizon to get service working well inside office buildings.

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