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Wave7 Research recently reported to its subscribers that Sprint is now available at a majority of Walmart locations based on sources and checks. Prior to the expansion, Wave7 Research had noted that Sprint was available in an estimated 40% of all Walmart locations, or approximately 1,400 of it's 3,568 US stores.
Sprint’s first real major push into the big box store kicked off in July of 2018, when Sprint’s Chairmen Marcello Claure tweeted out “Big news for Sprint today as we’re expanding into 700 Walmart stores.”
Sprint's presence will continue to grow inside Walmart moving forward, as the carrier works to increase it's postpaid wireless offerings and personnel in the store. The carrier has a goal to have Walmart’s 3k+ locations fully operational and staffed with 3rd party sales experts, as well as Walmart’s own wireless employees by year’s end. The growth at Walmart should help offset any retail losses Sprint may have experienced since splitting from Target earlier in the year.
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Additional sources have indicated to BestMVNO that Sprint's Walmart wireless launches are expected to continue into 2020. Sprint will not be in Walmart locations where adequate coverage is not available, the same for their competitors. Some Walmart locations offer US Cellular in the place of Sprint, while most locations have AT&T and Verizon. In some rare instances, all 4 major carriers are sold in one location.
Sprint’s movement into Walmart is not only good for the brand but is also good for consumers with poor credit in need of a new device.
Sprint’s Walmart Expansion Makes Its Affordable Choice Program Available To More Customers
Launched in stores in 2018, Sprint has partnered with Walmart to offer what they refer to as the "Affordable Choice" program. Internally, it was known as the CORE-4 program, due to the fact only 4 devices had been offered with the program. It is still referred to as the CORE program among Sprint reps, although more device choices are available with it.
The Affordable Choice program has been designed for customers with poor to no credit and it gives those customers the chance to rebuild it.
Affordable Choice allows Sprint customers that don't have a past due balance, and those that have never had Sprint service, to pick up one of several phones with just a down payment. Sprint has stated that there’s a 99% approval rate for customers wishing to join the program. Customers interested in the offering can head over to their local Walmart to inquire about it.
Those who qualify for Affordable Choice will have the option to purchase a phone for as little as $40 down that can be paired with either Sprint’s Unlimited Basic Plan or the Affordable Choice Plan. The devices and plans offered with this program are detailed below.
Affordable Choice Program Devices Include The iPhone 8
- iPhone 8 is $125 down, $0 a month via bill credits.
- iPhone 6S $99 down, $0 a month
- Google Pixel 3A XL $125 Down, $10 a month
- Samsung A50 $80 Down, $7 a month
- Samsung A20 $70 Down, $4 a month
- Samsung A10e $40 Down, $1 a month
- Samsung J7 2018 $35 Down, $5 a month
- Samsung J3 2018 $30 Down, $1 a month
- LG Stylo 5 $60 Down, $4 a month
- LG Stylo 4 $35 Down, $1 a month
The devices offered are the only ones currently available with the Affordable Choice program. Higher-end devices such as newer Androids and Apple devices do not qualify. Those devices require regular credit checks, although you may still choose the Basic Unlimited or Affordable Choice plan to pair with it.
Affordable Choice Program Plan Options
The Unlimited Basic plan starts at $65/month (after $5 auto-pay discount) and includes unlimited talk, text, and LTE data, as well as a subscription to HULU's basic package (1 shared per account), TIDAL music, and 500 MB of mobile hotspot.
There is also a multi-line discount available for the Unlimited Basic plan as follows:
- 2 lines $110 ($100 after auto-pay discounts at $5 per line)
- Lines 3-5 are included in the $100 auto-pay discount pricing but will increase to $20 per line starting on 1/31/2021, making the total $160 a month. Device payment charges will still appear on the subscriber's bill. This offer is for new customers.
- Existing Sprint customers are charged $5 for lines 3-5, until 4/1/2020, where they will see an increase of $20 for lines 3-5 as well, bringing their total to $185.
Affordable Choice Plan
If you don't need unlimited, there is also the Affordable Choice plan which offers 6GB of data, and unlimited talk & text for $45 dollars a month. The Affordable Choice plan is now exclusive to Walmart.
Both the Affordable Choice plan and the Basic Plan include off-network roaming. According to Sprint's terms of service, "Sprint reserves the right, without notice, to deny, terminate, modify, disconnect or suspend service if off-network usage in a month exceeds: (1) voice: 800 min. or a majority of minutes; or (2) data: 50, 100 or 300 megabytes or (based on plan)."
Global roaming is available in over 200 countries and offered on the Unlimited Basic and Affordable Choice plans as well as on all Sprint plans using Smartphones. Sprint's website indicates global international roaming calls are billed at 25¢, however, it isn't clear if it's 25¢ per call, or per minute. After reaching customer support, they confirmed it is a per-minute charge. Free basic text and data at 2G Speeds are included at no additional cost. High-speed data passes are available at LTE speeds at an additional cost that varies by location.
The Unlimited Basic plan includes free talk, text, and data roaming while traveling in either Mexico or Canada, however, only 5GB of roaming data is available at 4G LTE data speeds.
Affordable Choice Program Fine Print
- An activation fee may be included on your 1st bill, depending on which location you visit.
- Other taxes and regulatory fees may also be on your bill.
- A down payment is initially required to sign up, as well as sales taxes.
- Device financing is for a term of 24 months, which you can pay off as early as you please.
- Auto-pay discounts appear after 2 billing periods.
- Sprint may deprioritize data speeds during times of congestion, once 50 GB of data have been consumed.
- On Unlimited Basic Plan, video streaming is at 480p (DVD quality), gaming at 2 Mbps, and music at 500 kbps.
- Mobile Hotspot speeds are reduced to 3G speeds after 500 MB of usage on unlimited basic on both plans.
- Bill credits for the iPhone 8 will appear on 2nd Bill. A $13.54 dollar device charge will appear on first bill. Bill credits will last remaining 23 months. Early termination will result in remaining balance of device being due, based on remaining $325 after initial down payment.
- This is not a lease program, which Sprint traditionally offers at their stores, and other retailers.
Before Sprint & Target went their separate ways, Target also offered their version of Affordable Choice for $40 after a $5 auto-pay discount, and the LG Tribute HD was the only available device option. Target's plan included 4GB of high-speed data with unlimited talk and text. A 6 month trial with TIDAL music was also included. Through Walmart though, Sprint has really pushed to extend and grow the program by offering customers more device options and another plan option. That growth will continue thanks to Sprint's continued expansion into Walmart stores.