Are you thinking about upgrading your Sprint phone?
The carrier does have some tempting offers and programs. If you're trying to keep your budget under control, however, there is a better alternative to signing up for a new device installment payment plan.
In this guide, I'll go over the Sprint upgrade policy plus show you another way to get a great deal on a smartphone.
Table of Contents
Sprint Phone Upgrades
Here are the phone upgrade options through Sprint.
- Make a down payment (possibly $0 for well-qualified customers).
- Choose the Sprint early upgrade fee of $5 per month for the option of upgrading after 12 months if you wish.
- Own your device after 24 monthly installments.
Sprint Flex is a combination of leasing and owning options. One version is just for flagship smartphones iPhone and Galaxy and one is for other phones.
iPhone Forever & Galaxy Forever
- Sign an 18-month payment agreement
Then you can either:
- Trade up to the newest version after 12 months
- Buy at the end of 18 months
- Continue payments on a lease basis
- Return your phone
As always, restrictions apply so make sure you read the fine print.
Any other phone
If you're not on the iPhone Forever or Galaxy Forever program you can:
- Sign an 18-month payment agreement for another phone.
- Pay $5 extra per month for the option to upgrade after 12 months.
Sprint Plans With Upgrade
Sprint has two postpaid plans:
- Sprint Unlimited Freedom: $60 ($65 without autopay).
- 2GB of data: $40 a month ($45 without autopay discount).
Cost example with device payment:
- iPhone 8 on 18-month lease: $30/month.
- Sprint Unlimited Freedom (with autopay discount): $60/month.
- Total monthly cost: $90 per month plus taxes and fees.
Cons of Upgrading With Sprint
- You may have to make a down payment.
- If you keeping trading in with the iPhone Forever or Galaxy Forever plan you're simply leasing long-term with nothing to show for it.
- Any payment plan - whether the traditional 24-month installment plan or Sprint Flex - works just like a contract, which ties you to the carrier.
- You have to turn your device in and it has to be in good working condition.
- You'll pay an upgrade fee every time you trade in ($30 at the time of this writing).
- Financing is only available with the Sprint Unlimited Freedom plan and Affordable Choice plans, not with prepaid service.
Benefits of Buying a Used or Refurbished Smartphone
There is an alternative to getting caught in the upgrade cycle. Instead of using a Sprint upgrade program you can buy a used or refurbished phone for half the cost of a new one.
Why Buy Used?
- You'll save 50% or more off the cost of your smartphone.
- You avoid the monthly payments on top of the bill for your cell phone service.
- You're free to take your unlocked phone to any carrier so you can get the best rate available.
- You won't be tied to your carrier by a device payment agreement.
- There are plenty of reliable cell phone sellers with return or exchange policies and even warranties.
- You can resell your device when you're done with it, giving you more cash toward your next
Cost Comparison: Sprint Flex vs. Buying Refurbished
Let's look at one example of the money you can save by opting for a refurb or used cell phone.
iPhone 8 (64 GB) with Sprint Flex
iPhone 8 (64 GB) with MVNO
|Phone Price Upfront||$0||$500|
|Total Upfront Cost||$30||$500|
|Monthly installment Price with Flex||$29.17||$0|
|Monthly unlimited TextNow price on network||$0||$39.99|
|Total Monthly Cost||$94.17||$39.99|
|Total Cost for 2 years||$2,354.08||$959.76|
Total Cost for 2 years + Upfront Cost
By purchasing your phone upfront and switching to an MVNO on the same network you can save more than nine hundred dollars in the two years it would take for you to purchase your phone outright through the network's plan! Be sure to use our comparison tools to get the best price on a refurbished phone.
Related: Use our comparison tool to find the best price on a refurbished phone in seconds
Key Factors to Consider When Buying a Used or Refurbished Phone
Shop smart by keeping these things in mind.
- Used vs. refurbished: A refurbished phone has usually been thoroughly inspected, repaired, and refinished by the manufacturer or a third party. Used smartphones are typically sold as-is.
- Device certification: You may prefer a site that puts the phones through a multi-point inspection and certification process.
- Guarantees or warranties: Various seller sites have different policies. For example, Gazelle provides a 30-day guarantee while Decluttr has a 12-month warranty. Other sites connect you with the seller so you don't get a warranty through the company that owns the website.
- Insurance: You may be eligible for third-party phone insurance to give yourself further peace of mind.
- Returns: When you buy through a used phone site you'll typically enjoy a 30-day return period. Sites that connect you directly with sellers - like Swappa and Glyde - let you return an item if it's not in the condition that was advertised.
- Post: You usually get free shipping with used phones.
- Device payments: Some sites, like Gazelle, offer phone installment payment plans. We don't recommend these unless absolutely necessary due to the high interest. You're better off saving up for a few weeks and paying in full.
Buying a Refurbished/Used Phone
Save time trying to hunt down the best place to buy a used phone by reading reviews of our top five favorites.
Compare Prices: Use our price comparison tool to find the best deal on a refurbished phone
Save Even More Money With an MVNO
The savings aren't over yet - you can cut your mobile service bill in half by going with an alternative wireless carrier.
What Is an MNVO?
MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. You've probably already heard of a few of these carriers, like Boost Mobile and Cricket Wireless.
These low-cost carriers buy extra capacity on the big four networks and sell it to you at lower prices.
How can they do this? MVNOs don't have the same overhead and marketing costs as the big guys. They typically operate online so they don't have the expense of brick-and-mortar stores either.
Benefits of MVNOs:
- Cheaper rates - typically 50% or lower.
- The same trusted 4G LTE networks you're used to.
- Customized plans so you pay only for what you need.
- No contracts, credit checks, or commitments.
- 24/7 customer support.
- Easy signup - order a new SIM card online and swap them out.
- Bring your own phone and keep your phone number.
What if you like the Sprint network but not Sprint prices? Check out MVNOs that operate on the Sprint network.
- Has free Wi-Fi only plan.
- Unlimited data plan available.
- 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Extremely flexible build-your-own plans.
- All plans include tethering and calls to Canada, China, and Mexico.
- Custom plans with no data up to 10GB of data - ideal for any type of user.
- Perfect for basic users who need zero to a small amount of data.
- Ideal for senior citizens.
- Custom plans for both basic phones and smartphones.
- 50% off first two months.
- Satisfaction guaranteed.
Sell Your Used Cell Phone
In addition to the savings you'll enjoy on your refurbished smartphone and cheap cell phone plan, you can put some more cash into your pocket by selling your current phone.
Don't just throw it in a drawer - post it on one of the sites listed above like Decluttr or Swappa and put the money toward something else, like a vacation!
You have options other than committing to monthly device payments with a Sprint upgrade. Leasing through Sprint Flex means you'll never own your device.
- Buying a used cell phone is a great way to save over 50% without sacrificing the features you want.
- Buying an unlocked phone means you're free to compare cell phone plans on any network.
- Sell your old phone for cash.
MVNOs save you 50% on wireless service on the same reliable networks as the big guys. The market is rapidly changing which means more ways for you to save money on your phone and service.