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Verizon Phone Upgrade? There is a Smarter Way...

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Thinking about using the Verizon upgrade program? Read this guide first for answers to the question "How do Verizon upgrades work?" and learn about the Verizon phone upgrade policy as well as budget-friendly alternatives.

Verizon Phone Upgrades

There are two ways to upgrade your device through Verizon. Both require a $30 upgrade fee.

Monthly Installments

The Verizon Wireless device payment program is a standard phone financing plan.

  • 24-month payment agreement
  • Possible down payment
  • Upgrade after the device is paid off

Verizon Annual Upgrade Program

This is Big Red's version of the early upgrade.

  • 24-month device payment agreement
  • Only the most recent two models of iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S series are eligible
  • Possible down payment depending on device and credit standing
  • Upgrade once 50% of device balance is paid
  • Must trade in your current device in good condition

Verizon Plans With Upgrade

Verizon offers two sets of plans.

Shared data plans: 2GB to 8GB, $35 to $70 per month for a single line.

Unlimited plans: $75 to $95 per month for a single line.

Cost example with the upgrade:

iPhone 8 with Verizon

Refurbished iPhone 8 with MVNO Plan

Phone Price Upfront$0$500
SIM Starter Kit$20$0
Total Upfront Cost$20$500
Monthly Installment Price$29$0
Monthly Verizon gounlimited Price (one line)$80$0
Monthly Standard Unlimited US Mobile Price$0$26
Total Monthly Cost$109$26
Total Cost for 2 years$2,616$1,104

Total Cost for 2 years + Upfront Cost

$2,666

$1,604

By purchasing your phone upfront and switching to an MVNO on the same network you can save a thousand 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.

Cons of Upgrading with Verizon:

  • 24-month payment plan works like a contract, keeping you tied to the carrier.
  • The device must be in good condition to trade in, otherwise, you're responsible for paying for the damage.
  • If you stay on annual upgrade plan you'll never own your phone, despite paying over $350 per year.

Key Factors to Consider When Buying a Refurbished/Used Phone

Here are some tips on how to buy a used cell phone.

Used vs. refurbished: It's important to know the difference. Used phones are sold as-is, and any issues or cosmetic wear should be noted in the listing. Refurbished means the device has been thoroughly inspected and repaired.

Phone warranties: This depends upon how the site works. Some sites - like Swappa - connect you to the seller, so they don't offer a warranty. Other sites sell the devices themselves. Decluttr, for instance, gives you a limited warranty for a full 12 months.

Returns: You may get 30 days to return, no questions asked, or, with Glyde for example, you can return if the item isn't as advertised.

Shipping: Shipping to you is usually free, and sometimes even returns ship at no cost.

Certification: Looking for a certified pre-owned device that has been rigorously inspected like a pre-owned car? BuyBackWorld and some others offer that option.

Device protection: You can purchase after-market insurance for your used phone.

Phone payments: You may find a site with used cell phone payment plans. This is seldom a good deal as interest is typically high. You're best off paying in full.

Benefits of Buying a Used or Refurbished Phone

More people each year are choosing the more affordable option of buying a used smartphone instead of purchasing a new device. Why?

  • You can save up to 50% or more off the retail price and get a device just a model or two old.
  • You're free to take your no-contract, unlocked phone to any carrier you want.
  • There are plenty of reputable phone sellers servicing this growing market.
  • Most sites offer returns in case your device isn't as expected.
  • You can buy device protection directly from phone insurance providers.

Concerned about how long a used phone will last? You might be surprised to learn that, according to the Consumer Technology Association, the average smartphone lifespan is 4.7 years!

Buying a Refurbished/Used Phone

If you're convinced, as we are, that buying used is a financially savvy option, you'll need to know where to look. So check out our review of the best used phone sites.

Compare Prices: To ensure you get the best deal on a refurbished phone make sure to use our price comparison tool.

Want to Save Even More Money?

Once you've got your new-to-you unlocked phone you're then free to shop around for a cheaper cell phone plan.

Consider Switching to an MVNO

Mobile Virtual Network Operators - or MVNOs - are carriers that lease the use of the big four networks (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint).

Because these smaller carriers don't have the massive overhead and marketing expenses the big guys do, they sell the service at much lower rates.

More and more people are switching to MVNOs. Why?

  • You get the reliability of the major 4G LTE networks.
  • You save over 50% off typical cell phone bills.
  • There are no contracts or credit checks - which means no early termination fees either.
  • You're free to bring your own phone and keep your number.
  • MVNOs offer custom prepaid plans - only pay for what you need.
  • Sign up quickly and easily online - you'll never need to set foot in a store.
  • MVNOs have great customer service ratings and extensive support hours.

Here's the best part - even if you love the Verizon network, you don't have to pay Verizon prices. Pick an MVNO and stay on your favorite cell network. Check out our guide to Verizon's best MVNOs!

Use our cell phone savings calculator to see how much money you'll save over your current carrier.

Sell Your Old Phone

When you buy a "new" used cell phone, don't forget to sell your old device. There are multiple benefits to doing so:

  • It's environmentally friendly.
  • Even selling for parts puts more cash in your pocket than throwing it away or in a drawer.
  • You'll get more money in cash than you will by trading your phone in for credit with your carrier.

Recap

There's no reason to pay $80 or more for your monthly phone bill.

Be budget smart and save over half off your mobile phone and service, then refer a friend to this guide so they can save too!

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