Virgin Mobile and C Spire Wireless experimenting with phone financing programsAlex Wagner - Senior News Editor
Last month we learned that Cricket and MetroPCS were testing handset financing programs in select markets as a way to help customers obtain high-end, expensive smartphones without having to pay the full price all at once. Now two more carriers have come forward to confirm that they're testing similar programs.
Sprint spokeswoman Jayne Wallace has told FierceWireless that Virgin Mobile is currently holding a "very small test" with BillFloat financing in one market that is expected to end in the first quarter. A decision about opening it up will happen later. A BillFloat site has shown that the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, Galaxy S II, Galaxy Reverb and EVO V 4G all qualify for Virgin's test program. One example payment plan allows customers to pay $59 upfront for the Galaxy S II and then follow that up with 12 monthly payments of $49 each.
Another carrier that's testing BillFloat financing is C Spire Wireless. Dave Miller, spokesperson for C Spire, said that the trial has been happening for two months and will wrap up in March. It's being offered at 12 stores in 3 markets and includes 11 different products. One such device is the iPhone 5, which is available for an upfront fee of $170.50 and then six monthly payments of $150 each.
While some think that prepaid operators only get hand-me-down and low-end handsets, we've started to see high-end phones like the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S III make their way onto no-contract carriers. That's good for both the companies and the customers, though the prepaid nature of these carriers means that the high-end devices frequently have high price tags, making them difficult for some to afford. These financing programs put those phones within reach of more people so that they don't have to settle for a low-end phone and instead can get a device that they really want, making them happier with their phone and their carrier. Would any of you take advantage of a financing program like this if you had the chance?