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Early Cell Phone Update Plans: Are They Worth It?

It seems that right after you get a new cell phone, a newer one with improved features comes out. Standard mobile service contracts allow you to upgrade after two years. Several major carriers are offering a new type of contract that allows you to upgrade sooner.

While standard phone contracts require you to pay only a portion of the phone’s full cost (up to $250), these new plans may require to pay the full cost of the phone ($600 or more). Before you sign up for these early upgrade plans, do your homework.

Some question to ask include:

  • Is there an upgrade fee?

  • Does the upgrade fee include insurance?

  • How soon after you sign your contract can you upgrade?

  • Are you required to pay a down payment? Is a down payment required for each upgrade?

  • Does your old phone have to work and be in good physical condition to upgrade?

  • How frequently can you upgrade per year?

  • How many months will you have to pay for the full price of the phone?

  • Is the early upgrade option available with all of the carrier’s plans or only select ones?

  • What percentage of the phone’s full value are you responsible for paying before you are eligible to upgrade? After how many months?

Keep in mind that if you have an early upgrade plan and pay the entire phone’s price, you may still be required to return the phone to your provider on your next upgrade. Also, if you owe money on the phone, you may not be able to switch carriers until the balance is paid.


Learn more about shopping for cell phone plans.

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