Service providers MetroPCS and Cricket recently launched their financing programs, which enable users to purchase high-end smartphones, like the Galaxy S3 or iPhone 5, without having to put down a small fortune upfront. Instead customers can choose to cough up just a fraction of the initial cost and pay the rest back via monthly installments. But these two carriers aren’t the first to offer financing on handsets. T-Mobile have been offering similar options to customers who sign a two-year contract.
Cricket’s financing options are made available via Progressive Finance, whilst MetroPCS has partnered up with Billfloat. So your loan won’t actually be managed by your carrier, instead you’ll have to be prepared to deal with finance agencies.
Cricket claims that customers will typically only need to put 10% of the initial cost down when they spend over $200 on hardware. Interestingly, you can obtain one of Cricket’s financing options without the need for a credit check; you’ll only require a bank account. MetroPCS is a little more secretive with the exact details of its plans, saying only that it will offer the service for 4G, higher-priced handsets.
But like all financing options it’s a case of buyer beware. You are always going to end up paying back more in the long run than you would if you’d brought the phone up front, and there’s the threat of penalties if you fail to keep up with your payments. So whilst this is great if you’re unable or unwilling to stump up the funds right away, there is a price for the convenience.