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iPhone On Us – What’s the catch?

If you’re in the market for a new iPhone 15 or iPhone 14, and even if you’re not, you’ve likely heard a lot of wireless carriers promoting iPhone On Us offers lately. But what does "Get an iPhone on Us" really mean? For those looking for the best Apple iPhone deals, an iPhone On Us offer may be worth it, but, to be clear, it’s not without cost. There’s simply no such thing as a truly free iPhone. Let us explain.

iPhone On Us Requirements

The message "Get an iPhone On Us" is marketing at its best. It sounds too good to ignore. What if it’s true? But it’s also too good to be the whole story. The truth is that iPhone On Us deals come with requirements, and usually quite a few of them:

  • Trade in an eligible cell phone in good working condition
  • Switch or upgrade to a qualifying phone plan, often of the unlimited plan variety
  • Sign up for autopay
  • Receive your promotional bill credit in monthly installments over anywhere from 24 to 36 months depending on the wireless carrier

Do I have to switch or add a new line?

The details of iPhone On Us offers vary by carrier and promotional period. At the best of times, these deals are available for both new and existing customers, with no trade-in required or with any trade-in device in any condition. However, we’ve also seen iPhone On Us promos reserved for new customers or those adding a new line, with max trade-in credits limited to newer trade-in devices. That’s why it’s so important to read the fine print.

What’s my phone worth?

To take advantage of an iPhone On Us carrier deal and get an iPhone for $0, you’ll typically need an eligible trade-in that’s worth the max trade-in value. Of course, this begs the question: what's your phone worth? The confusing thing is that the answer not only depends on the age and condition of your current phone but can be different from one carrier to the next.

Suppose your trade-in is a fairly new phone, in good working condition. In that case, you may have yourself an eligible device that qualifies you for a promotional bill credit equal to the full retail price of an iPhone 14 or iPhone 15—and there’s the truth in the iPhone On Us advertising. However, older trade-in phones that aren’t worth the max trade-in value generally won’t cover the full cost of a new iPhone.

To quickly find out how much your trade-in will fetch toward a new iPhone, try our free, unbiased Phone Deal Finder. It shows you how much you’ll receive in promotional monthly bill credits toward a new iPhone model of your choosing based on your current trade-in by the carrier. FYI, we also keep up-to-date lists of iPhone offers at top providers on our Phone Deals page, including the best AT&T iPhone deals, T-Mobile iPhone deals, and Verizon iPhone deals.

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What’s a qualifying phone plan?

In addition to having an eligible trade-in device, another requirement for iPhone On Us carrier deals is a qualifying phone plan. While plan details and requirements vary by provider, iPhone on Us deals usually require you to sign up for an unlimited plan. 

Unlimited plans can be a great option for those looking for the most high-speed data without limits, but they’re not for everyone. For some phone users, unlimited plans may be more access and speed, not to mention cost, than needed. That’s where our Best Cell Phone Plans article can help you understand whether unlimited data or capped data is right for you.

iPhone On Us Bill Credits

It used to be that service plans locked you into contracts ranging from 2 to 3 years. Not anymore. Nowadays, most wireless companies tout contract-free plans, meaning you’re not required to stick with a plan for a designated amount of time. 

However, when it comes to iPhone On Us offers, promotional bill credits are applied in monthly payments over a 24 to 36-month period depending on the carrier you choose. If you cancel your service before the promotional bill credits are fully applied, the credits will stop and you’ll be on the hook to pay the remaining credit installment plan balance for your supposedly “free iPhone”. In other words, while the qualifying phone plan is contract-free, your iPhone On Us deal is not. As of the writing of this article, AT&T and Verizon iPhone On Us monthly bill credits span 36 months, with T-Mobile’s payments spread over 24 months.

Autopay May Be Required

These days, it’s not uncommon for wireless carriers to require customers to sign up for Autopay to qualify for an iPhone On Us promotion (or any other promotion for that matter). The reason is simple: Paperless billing cuts down on the costs associated with mailing monthly statements. In this case, at least what’s good for the carriers is also good for the environment and your wallet. 

The Bottom Line

Everybody knows there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Well, the same can be said for a free iPhone. But that doesn’t mean iPhone On Us deals aren’t worth considering. You just need to make sure that the qualifying phone plan and the carrier’s coverage meet your needs.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s at AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, or another provider, iPhone On Us promos come with requirements. We know that carrier deals can be confusing, but with Navi’s free, unbiased Phone Deal Finder, it’s easy to find and compare the best iPhone deals you qualify for in no time. 

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