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Updated: 8:27 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 | Posted: 6:00 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014

Get paid $450 to change your cellphone provider

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By Clark Howard


Are you strapped for cash? You can get paid $450 just for changing your cellphone provider. But there's a way to put even more money in your pocket...

AT&T has been hurting for customers, as many have fled to other providers once their contract is up. Their customers are tired of the combo of bad service and high prices. And where do AT&T customers typically go when their contracts are up? To T-Mobile!

So now AT&T has launched an offer just for T-Mobile customers. They will pay you up to a $450 bounty to move from T-Mobile and trade in their old smartphone. That's a $250 base credit and an additional $200 per line if you jump through all the hoops they've set up.

Now we're hearing rumors that T-Mobile may fire back with a bounty of its own to get customers from AT&T. We'll see if that comes to pass.

The reality is every American who wants a cell phone already has one, so we're in a zero sum game where companies have to poach customers from each other!

Meanwhile, I've talked in the past about the new Moto G. It's a non-contract phone with a 4.5-inch screen that's available for $179 through Amazon and other retailers.

Getting the Moto G lets you be a free agent and go to any GSM carrier (like AT&T, T-Mobile, and many of the discounters you've heard me talk about.) You just pop in a SIM card …and that's the service you're on! Right now, Best Buy is discounting it to $99 if you go with Verizon on a non-contract plan, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The whole contract plan business model is going away. There's no question that Apple will suffer damage from these changes in the marketplace. An Apple phone at a non-contract price is a fortune. And getting a subsidized price upfront means the costs will be built into your high monthly service charge.

Ultimately, the cost of a phone is *not* the most important thing. It's what you pay for monthly service that really matters. Going non-contract will typically save you $1,000 annually vs. going with a contract provider.

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