I pre-ordered and got 100 cartel coins when it went free. Only reason I know is because the day before I noticed I needed 1 cartel coin to buy speeder level 2. I was going to wait for the stipend but even that seemed to have come about 5 days early.
Unless they need the subs or they have to close the game which makes me glad I am on my last character storyline just in case.
Yes, they need the subs or they have to close the game. That's how it is for every MMO and how it will be for every MMO forever. Subs pay for the game.