Vodafone's new Bonus Bank scheme offers prepaid phone users credits to spend on new hardware every time they purchase recharges. We're never against something for nothing here at Lifehacker, but as with most loyalty schemes, you're going to have to spend a lot of money to rack up an actual reward.
Once you've signed up, the scheme is pretty simple: every time you purchase a recharge, 10% of the value of that recharge goes towards your Bonus Bank account. You can then redeem that money on purchasing a new phone from Vodafone. Right now, there's no separate listing on the site for what's on offer (or whether you need to buy a recharge at the same time you claim a phone), but a Vodafone spokesperson told Lifehacker the credits could be used on "any handset in the Vodafone range".
The cheapest outright buy phone on Vodafone's site is the $29 Nokia 1661, which doesn't even sport a camera. To purchase that, you'd need to spend $290. True, you'll have made all those calls, but a cheap postpaid phone will ultimately cost you less. To get an iPhone, you'd have to have spent a whopping $8790 on recharges.
The offer currently only applies to prepaid credit for voice calls, so prepaid mobile 3G broadband buyers miss out. Vodafone says it is considering expanding the range of redemption offers to include other options like additional recharges, and that would certainly make the bonuses more attainable. If you're already a Vodafone prepaid customer, there's no obvious reason not to sign up — just don't expect a 'free' phone in a hurry.