The Cheapest Way to Upgrade Your iPhone

Bearded man with iPhone and coffee
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Back in the time of cellphone plan contracts, it used to be that the big carriers were more than happy to pay for your new iPhone in exchange for your two-year commitment. Some months after you signed your contract, they would even offer you an upgraded iPhone in exchange for an extension of your contract.

Nowadays, with the extinction of cellphone plan contracts, carriers keep many of their customers long-term by offering them finance plans for devices that would be otherwise very hard to pay for in one lump sum. If you want a phone upgrade, you’re going to have to pay for it.

Here are some tips to upgrade your phone as cheaply as possible.

Early iPhone upgrade with your carrier

If you are making device payments, chances are your carrier offers an early-upgrade option. All you’ll have to do is turn in your current phone and start paying for your new device. Typically, carriers require you to have at least half of your current phone paid off. AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon all have early upgrade options.

This might be the easiest way to upgrade your phone, but it’s not usually the cheapest way. That’s because the biggest deals for new phones are usually reserved for customers switching to a new carrier. This leads us to our next tip.

Switch carriers

If your current iPhone is completely paid off, your best bet for a cheap upgrade is to switch carriers. The big cellphone carriers always want new business, so they usually save their best deals for customers who switch over from another carrier. Thanks to the decline of cellphone plan contracts, It’s easier than ever to switch carriers.

Deals you might expect to see include big discounts on your new phone, a huge trade-in credit for your old phone, or buy-one, get-one offers. Oftentimes, you can get your new phone free from the new carrier.

Switch to a smaller carrier

Your best bet for big saving on your iPhone upgrade is switching to one of the major carriers — AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile.

However, if you’re waiting for the newest iPhone to be released or you’re happy to keep your current phone until it absolutely needs to be replaced, consider switching to one of the smaller carriers.

This could help you save money between having your current phone paid off and getting an upgrade.

Smaller carriers have much cheaper prices for similar services, and nearly all of them will let you bring your current iPhone to their plans. With no contracts, once you’re ready to upgrade, you’ll be free to make the switch to one of the major carriers and get a great deal on your new phone.

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