How to Upgrade with 2015
December 21, 2015 7:21 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to stay off contract in order to keep my unlimited data plan, but I also want to get a new phone. I've never purchased a phone off-contract so this is kind of uncharted territory.

I've been told by a Verizon CSR that since I'm now paying $20 more for my unlimited data, I can upgrade with a device payment plan. Before, if I wanted a new phone, I would have had to pay full retail value if I wanted to keep my unlimited data. (Note: I really, really want to keep my unlimited data. I use a lot of it, and my bills will go way up if I switch to a tiered plan.)

I've been trying to go over it in my head to make sure there's no catch. I plan to go to a Verizon store to do this (unless that's a bad idea?), though not right now (but probably within the next few months).

-Would I need to get a SIM card for this new phone, or transfer one from my old phone? (Because it's off contract, I guess?)
-Could I trade in my old phone without it affecting the unlimited data? I understand I'd be getting a gift card back, so I don't see why not, but I thought I'd ask.

For the record, I want to get an iPhone 6s. I currently have a 5s. It's been a while since I've upgraded, and the plans have changed so much that I'm kind of out of the loop. Thanks in advance.
posted by bookwibble to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I bought an Android on ebay and I think I had to have the store set up a new SIM card for me. This was a Verizon unlimited data plan a couple years ago, they didn't give me any hassle.

IME, Verizon stores aren't good at weird asks and will refer most people to call the support line. I had good luck with the support line when I was swapping numbers to sell my unlimited data plan last year, and got escalated to more skilled people when it was needed. Maybe start there.
posted by momus_window at 7:50 PM on December 21, 2015

If you're not in a hurry it is possible to navigate through their pages to one where they offer to send a SIM to you. Possible, painful and annoying but possible.

The clerks at the store will get you a sim but it'll take some patience.
posted by sammyo at 8:12 PM on December 21, 2015

Sorry but you may have just a few more months of unlimited, it's hard to know the regulatory details but it's clear they really really want that to end.
posted by sammyo at 8:14 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Verizon really, really, really wants you off that unlimited plan. I had a grandfathered unlimited plan, and any change I made, including switching phones, would have knocked me off. I eventually caved to upgrade, so I'd make very sure that upgrading in any way doesn't end your plan.
posted by Ruki at 8:21 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Are you sure you are best served by unlimited? My husband and I are both real estate agents, use a lot of bandwidth, and used to have unlimited-when we moved to tiered we actually wound up spending less.

As for help, I go to Best Buy. Customer service is better than Verizon, at least here locally.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:53 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The thing re: the device payment plan has been pretty consistent with what I've read online as well, including the Verizon subreddit. I'll call again and visit some stores to confirm. It's not technically an upgrade, though, in the sense that it's not subsidized-- I'll still pay full value, just over the course of 24 months.

It's also very recent-- they introduced it right after they raised the price on the unlimited data.

Speaking of: yes, St. Alia, I do need it. I've talked with a rep and with my data usage I'd definitely be paying way more than I am now.
posted by bookwibble at 9:42 PM on December 21, 2015

I did that with my phone at Verizon, went with the $20/mo payment plan for my new device. They do give you slightly better incentives for using it, I think because they're hoping to keep a little friction in keeping you from jumping ship to another provider now that contracts are fading. Basically you just pay $20/mo until the phone is paid for, and you may pay it off in person any time (they bet you won't bother). You keep your SIM, etc. Trade in depends on what other deals they're running usually.

I can't answer if they'll pull you off unlimited -- get it in writing, their salesmen are such liars -- but it's pretty straightforward and there's no real catch to that part.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:10 AM on December 22, 2015

If you can afford it, I'd buy the iPhone outright from the best source you can get, then go through the options on Verizon's website to add the phone to your account and confirm the plan is the same as you have now (you should be paying more per line, but still get unlimited)..
posted by sandmanwv at 5:41 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

We dropped the unlimited data a while back since we weren't using all that much and the regular tiered plan was a lot cheaper, so I can't speak to that part. But I recently switched to just buying the phones outright and found that (perhaps because of the increased portability) Verizon was all of a sudden willing to offer serious savings. You may find that the negotiations on this will be a lot easier if you are able to just buy the phone, rather than trying to make the combined plan and phone pricing work. (It should all be the same, but in our case it clearly was not.)
posted by Dip Flash at 5:57 AM on December 22, 2015

It sounds like you want to do this, which I just did last spring: buy a new phone at Best Buy in an "update my phone" setting, and activate it on your line but using your old SIM card which keeps your data.

This is the backdoor to keeping your unlimited data. There are also forums/threads on android central -- there are people doing complicated multi-line, multi-phone upgrades there, but the basic idea is the same.

I do not expect that Verizon or one of their CSRs is going to help you do this -- they want (badly) to put you on a metered data plan, and for you to pay for the phone over two years.
posted by Dashy at 7:24 AM on December 22, 2015

Response by poster: Not to thread sit, but Dashy: I actually don't want to do that. That has too many steps and I know I'll screw something up. When they raise the price on unlimited data a month or so ago, they made it so that you could get a phone with the direct payments through Verizon. I just spoke to a rep and he confirmed it. I still plan to ask at a store though, but it looks like a viable option.
posted by bookwibble at 7:27 AM on December 22, 2015

A problem when dealing with Verizon Wireless, even if you get things in writing, is that their service agreement includes the following gem:
"This agreement and the documents it incorporates form the entire agreement between us. You can't rely on any other documents, or on what's said by any Sales or Customer Service Representatives, and you have no other rights regarding Service or this agreement."
The agreement also requires you to waive your right to sue Verizon Wireless over any dispute you may have with the company, except in small claims court.

So, be careful, and good luck.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 2:58 PM on December 22, 2015

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