I would like an iPhone for Christmas, please.
December 21, 2012 1:22 PM   Subscribe

I would like to get an iPhone and have some questions about the cheapest way to do so. Questions about Verizon within.

I am currently on my parents' old Verizon family plan. All of us have texting, but no data, on the free phones Verizon seems to give us every two years. I assume this means we're grandfathered into one of Verizon's old family plans, because the Share Everything plan doesn't seem to work quite the same. My parents last renewed our two year contract in August.

I can finally afford the monthly bill for an iPhone, and I would like to get one. What is the best way I can do that without knocking my parents out of their Verizon plan? I've been looking at the Verizon website to see whether I could just upgrade my phone without affecting theirs, but it doesn't seem like I can. Upgrading in the middle of their two year contract also seems exorbitantly expensive.

Would it be cheaper for me just to get my own phone plan with two year contract? I really want to keep my phone number.

Any help would be appreciated!
posted by kingfishers catch fire to Technology (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can't address the family plan part of it, but you can easily keep your number even if you switch plans. I recently switched from AT&T to Verizon and transferring the number to the new carrier was completely painless at the Apple Store.
posted by enn at 1:45 PM on December 21, 2012

We have a family plan with 2 smart phones and 2 regular phones. There was no problem creating that - just an extra $30 a month for the data part of the plan per phone. I don't know why you think adding an iPhone would "knock them out" of their plan.

For us, both smart phone users had the unlimited data plan, but when one of us upgraded, that phone got pushed onto a < 2GB/month plan while the other one is still on unlimited. Still the same $30 per data plan.
posted by jasper411 at 4:18 PM on December 21, 2012

Don't know for sure, but you'd probably be extending the plan commitment for two years, so ask that question when you buy.
posted by cnc at 4:25 PM on December 21, 2012

You really should ask Verizon. I personally had huge problems just switching from a grandfathered solo plan to a shared plan, which seemed so theoretically easy that it didn't occur to me that I would lose my number (I did, because they wanted to charge me a ridiculous monthly fee to keep it). YMMV. Your Verizon Rep may vary, too. I do know that the two of us save an average of $10 per person on our shared plan (both iPhone users, 2GB/month) and our phones are on different contract timelines.
posted by sm1tten at 6:20 PM on December 21, 2012

it didn't occur to me that I would lose my number (I did, because they wanted to charge me a ridiculous monthly fee to keep it)

I feel pretty certain they're required by law to let you transfer / keep a number these days, but I'd definitely agree that reps vary in what they can/will do for you. If you're having a bad interaction, it can be worth just bailing and trying back later.

I transferred to my own account from a shared one with my folks a few years back, specifically so I could upgrade to a smartphone with a data plan. There was a little bit of hassle with my dad needing to call them and explicitly authorize me to make changes on their account (make sure you do that before you switch), but overall it was fairly straightforward. As far as I know this didn't really have any impact on my parents' account, other than costing them $15 or $20 less a month.
posted by brennen at 9:31 PM on December 21, 2012

The two year commitment is usually by phone, not the entire family. Sounds like y'all got your phones at the same time so it appears that the whole family plan is linked to a same date. Just call Verizon and ask.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:33 PM on December 21, 2012

Okay there are a couple factors here. One is your phone number. Legally, the account holder owns the number. If you want to switch to a different provider, the new provider contacts the old one to "port" the number. If you just want to switch the number to a different plan under the same provider, the current account holder (your parents) call Verizon to authorize a "transfer of liability," then you call and tell them that you want to set up a new account with an existing phone number.

Two is the types of Verizon plans. It used to be that you could share voice minutes with the other users on the account but not text/picture messages or data. The new Verizon plans share voice/text/data.

The the third is your contract. You said you're still under contract. You can switch around the type of plan without affecting your contract, that's not the problem. However if you want to get a *new* phone and pay the contract price (aka the advertised price, I think the iPhone 5 starts at $199), you need to make sure that your contract is up (meaning that it's been at least two years since you got a new phone). Otherwise you'll either have to pay an early termination fee (ETF, usually starts at like $179 and is pro-rated down the length of the contract) or pay full price for the phone (usually starts at like $599). The thing to remember is that carriers discount the phones because they lock you into paying a monthly fee for two years.
posted by radioamy at 11:06 AM on December 22, 2012

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