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T-Mobile Phone Upgrade? There is a Smarter Way...

Last Updated:

Considering a T-Mobile phone upgrade?

Stay tuned to find out how the T-Mobile upgrade plan works and how you can save up to half off your smartphone and wireless service by going a different route.

T-Mobile Phone Upgrades

With T-Mobile, you can choose regular device payments or the early upgrade option, called T-Mobile Jump!

Monthly Installments

The Equipment Installment Plan (EIP) is the standard device purchase version of T-Mobile's two upgrade programs.

  • You must be a postpaid plan customer.
  • You sign a 24-month payment agreement.
  • A down payment may be required.
  • You own your device at the end.

With this option, you can either sell your phone once your EIP balance is paid off or you can do a device trade-in for credit on a new phone.

T-Mobile Jump

T-Mobile Jump! is the early upgrade option, it comes in three versions.

Jump!

  • Requires a 24-month payment agreement with possible down payment.
  • Costs an extra $9 - $12 per month.
  • Comes with Premium Device Protection phone insurance.
  • You can trade in your qualifying device (in good condition) after a year, or after 50% of your remaining device balance is paid.

Jump! Plus

This version is just like Jump! with the addition of McAfee Security and Tech PHD personal help desk support. Jump! Plus costs $12 - $15 extra per month depending upon your device.

Jump! On Demand

  • Requires 18-month lease agreement with possible down payment.
  • You can upgrade once every 30 days.
  • Jump! On Demand is free but does not come with Premium Device Protection, McAfee Security, or Tech PHD.
  • After 18 payments you can buy your device or continue leasing.

T-Mobile Plan With Upgrade

T-Mobile offers one plan at this time, called T-Mobile ONE.

Cost example with device payment:

  • Apple iPhone 8: $29 a month for 24 months
  • T-Mobile ONE plan: $70 a month
  • Total monthly cost: $99

Cons of Upgrading With T-Mobile

  • You may have to make a down payment.
  • Upgrade fees may apply.
  • You must trade in your eligible device in good working order which means giving up any progress you've made on paying it off.
  • A payment agreement ties you to the carrier just like a contract.
  • The condition of the device must be good when you trade it in. If your phone is accidentally damaged you'll be responsible for the repair cost or the insurance deductible before you can turn it in for a new one.
  • Realistically, who needs a new upgrade every 30 days, as with the On Demand plan? New models only come out every one to two years, and even then, changes are slight.

Benefits of Buying a Used/Refurbished Cell Phone

Want to shave those monthly device payments off your budget? There is another way. Buying used is a great way to upgrade your phone without upgrading your costs:

  • Save half or more off your device cost.
  • Enjoy the flexibility to take your new-to-you unlocked phone to any network.
  • Used devices are big business - which means there are plenty of trustworthy seller sites.
  • There's a growing market of third-party insurers that will sell you coverage even on used phones.
  • You won't have to trade in which means you can sell your phone when you're ready for a different one.

Cost Comparison: T-Mobile ONE vs MVNO with Refurbished Phone

Let's look at one example of the money you can save by opting for a refurbished or used cell phone.

iPhone 8 (64 GB) with Jump!

Refurbished iPhone 8 with TextNow

Phone Price Upfront$0$500
Sim Starter Kit$20$0
Total Upfront Cost$20$500
Monthly T-Mobile ONE price$77$0
Monthly unlimited TextNow price on network$0$39.99
Monthly Jump! Fee$12.00$0.00
Total Monthly Cost$89.00$39.99
Total Cost for 2 years$2,136.00$959.76

Total Cost for 2 years + Upfront cost

$2,156.00

$1,459.76

By purchasing your phone upfront and switching to an MVNO on the same network you can save almost seven hundred dollars in the two years you would be paying for T-Mobile Jump! And don't even get us started with Jump! Plus.

Be sure to use our comparison tools to get the best price on a refurbished phone.

Bring your own phone and save even more money. But be sure to unlock your phone first.

Key Factors to Consider When Buying a Used/Refurbished Phone

Here's what to look for when shopping for a used device.

  1. Refurbished vs. used: Refurbished means that the device has been repaired and restored. Used means you're getting the phone as-is.
  2. Returns: Most phone seller sites offer a return policy if you change your mind. The standard is 30 days, although some sites - like Swappa - only offer returns if the item wasn't as advertised.
  3. Warranties: Warranty policies vary widely. Gazelle offers a 12-month warranty on many devices, while Decluttr provides a 30-day guarantee.
  4. Insurance: If you're nervous about buying a used cell phone you can typically purchase third-party cell phone insurance that covers the standard issues.
  5. Shipping: Most online phone sellers offer free shipping and handling.
  6. Certified devices: You can find used cell phones that have undergone a rigorous inspection. For example, Gazelle puts devices through a 30-point certification process.
  7. Phone payments: Monthly installments are available through some sites, however, high-interest rates make this a poor choice in most cases.

Buying a Used or Refurbished Smartphone

We've made your search for an affordable smartphone simple by reviewing the best used cell phone sites.

Compare Prices: Check out our price comparison tool before you buy a used phone!

Want to Save Even More Money? Consider an MVNO

You've saved 50% or more off your device. Now you can save over half off your mobile service as well.

What Is an MVNO?

MVNOs - or Mobile Virtual Network Operators - are smaller wireless carriers that use the same cell networks as AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint. MVNOs rent the use of the big four networks and resell it at cheaper rates.

The low-cost carriers can afford to offer cheap cell phone plans because they don't have the high overhead, marketing, and store location expenses. Most operate only online, in fact, which means you'll never have to set foot in a store.

Benefits of an MVNO:

  • Lower prices - typically over 50% lower than the big guys.
  • Wireless service on the same four reliable 4G LTE networks you already know.
  • No contracts, no credit checks, and no commitments.
  • Custom plans that let you pick exactly what you need and pay for.
  • Flexibility to bring your own phone and keep your number.
  • High customer support ratings & extensive service hours.
  • Easy online signup.

Not sure which network is best for your location? Examine coverage maps before choosing a wireless provider.

T-Mobile MVNOs

Love the T-Mobile network but not their prices? Pick a T-Mobile MVNO and keep your reliable service while paying less.

TextNow

  • Free Wi-Fi only plan
  • Great value unlimited plan available
  • Can use your phone number on other devices like your tablet
  • 30-day risk-free guarantee

Mint Mobile

  • Plans sold in bulk - three, six, or 12 months at a time
  • Data buckets from 2GB to 10GB - perfect for light, medium and some heavy use
  • Bring your own phone only

US Mobile

  • Very flexible custom plans
  • Unlimited plans
  • Uses both CDMA and GSM technology

TPO Mobile

  • Good for light to medium data users
  • 10% of your bill and 25% of company profits go to charity

Recap

There's a smarter way to buy your cell phone and service:

  • Make sure you fully understand your carrier's upgrade policy.
  • Buy used instead of taking on expensive monthly payments to upgrade your device.
  • Take your phone to the carrier with the best deal.
  • Keep your service on the 4G LTE T-Mobile network.
  • Sell your phone and pocket the money instead of giving your device back to your carrier after paying hundreds of dollars in monthly installments.

Compare phone plans now and start saving today.

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