Update – July 25th: Bell’s new SmartPay device financing option is now live. All the details are below or check them out at Bell.
National carrier Bell will introduce device financing on July 25th, according to documents obtained by MobileSyrup.
SmartPay will be available for any smartphone, smartwatch and tablet installment plans, it revealed. Customers can now get any smartphone for $0 with monthly payments.
The new device financing options are in direct competition to what Rogers and Telus have already released.
Similar to Telus though, Bell’s device financing plan offers customers the option to pay for their smartphone off in 24 monthly payments with zero percent interest.
Rogers’ device financing option allows customers to pay off their smartphone in 24 or 36 equal payments.
In the document, Bell noted that after the 24 months, payments will be complete and they will only have to pay for their monthly rate plan. It also added that this new payment option is only available for select Bell Unlimited and Bell Share plans.
The option can’t be paired with hardware discount offers.
Customers are also subject to credit approval and if a customer ends their SmartPay before the commitment period, then monthly payments are due immediately.
CRTC wants to know more about device financing
It is worth noting that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has sent a letter to Canadian telecommunications carriers to understand device financing plans. Carriers have until July 30th to answer questions.
In particular, Rogers’ device financing option would essentially let customers pay off phones over a period of three years instead of two. This option has not been evaluated by the CRTC yet.
According to the Wireless Code, wireless service providers that sell phones with an up-front subsidy have to make up the cost of the device in equal payments over 24 months. Companies are also not allowed to charge a cancellation fee.
This rule allowed customers to have more options and for it to be more affordable for customers. A three-year financing option could have customers facing a financial burden of paying off their phone even if they switch over to another carrier after two years.
In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Brent Johnston, president of wireless service at Rogers, said that by separating the two (device and monthly phone plan cost) it would stay within the rules of the CRTC.
“Clearly it’s the right thing from a customer perspective. It offers a more affordable choice and that’s the primary consideration here,” he said.
He emphasized the difference between a subsidy plan that packages the two (device cost and monthly plan price) versus separating the two.
In the latter case, once a person pays their phone off fully, the cost of their bill will automatically drop down to just their monthly wireless service.
In subsidy agreements, the price of the plan remains the same even after the customer pays off the cost of their entire device.