Five Tips and Tricks to Score a Great Deal on a New Phone

Phones have become an absolute necessity in our daily lives. From work to shopping; social media to navigation; choosing the right phone is an investment. With the flagship models creeping well over $1,000 retail, wanting the perfect phone and being able to afford that perfect phone can seem like two very different things.

The good news? It’s still very possible to score a great phone deal on the latest versions of popular phones like Apple, Samsung, and Google! Read on as we explore five tips and tricks to get the phone you want at a price that won't break the bank.

Buy Your Next Phone at the Right Time

It’s probably no surprise that phone prices fluctuate wildly depending on the time of year, but things like promotions, product life-cycle, and even new phone plans can cause a phone’s price to vary throughout the year.

Based on historical data we’ve collected for over a year, the graph below shows the retail value of the iPhone 12 alongside the promotional value (the incentives carriers offer to retain/acquire customers buying specific devices). The lower the individual trend line, the more consumers pay for specific devices. The closer the trend line to the retail price, the closer that device is to being offered for free.  

iPhone 12 Carrier Promo Chart

While the iPhone 12 varied in retail price, interestingly enough, T-Mobile (which had the highest retail price at $829.99), offered the most savings opportunities for consumers. Dropping promotions at the start of the winter holiday season and resuming offering substantial discounts right after Christmas. T-Mobile and Verizon varied considerably over the year, AT&T kept their prices fairly consistent, offering the highest promotional value when the iPhone 12 launched in October 2021, then providing around 700 dollars in savings throughout the following year.

Simply put, timing is everything when it comes to getting the latest model. Give yourself some time to shop around and monitor prices; you may be able to score a premium device at a mid-range price. You’ll want to act fast, however, as deals can come and go very quickly.

Consider Switching Carriers

Without a doubt, the easiest way to save money on a brand new phone is to capitalize on carrier’s switching promotions. Carriers need new customers, and they are willing to give a ton of discounts and incentives to acquire them; especially when new phones are being released. So if you’re already on the fence with your current carrier, it may be worth taking a look at any alternative plans from new carriers alongside the deals you can get on that new phone.

While there are offers out there that will pay for you to end your contract with your current carrier, keep in mind that there are always terms and conditions you will need to agree to get such a great discount on your new phone. For example, some carriers offer rebates to give you money back once you switch. However, those rebates can be credited to your account over a period of 18-24 months, so it’s important to understand the terms and conditions before you make a switch.

Trade In Your Current Phone

Carriers will offer guaranteed trade-in promotions that can get you a steep discount on a new model, especially if your current phone is in decent shape. In fact, most carriers will stipulate that your current phone be in good condition. If you want more money for your phone (and you’re ok waiting longer to get your new one), you can also go through dedicated trade-in sites, which can sometimes offer you more money for your device at the cost of having to wait for payment before using that cash towards your next phone.

Check for Discounts

Most of the time, there are a number of discounts available to qualifying customers, regardless of whether you’re staying with your existing carrier or switching to a new one. The most common ones include:

Autopay Discounts: All Big Three (AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon) carriers offer a $10 autopay discount. This is a simple and effective way to save $120 a year on your wireless bill—while having the peace of mind of knowing that your bill is getting paid on time, every time.

Non-Advertised Discounts: While new carriers want your business, your current carrier wants to keep your business. Sometimes your current carrier will go the extra mile to keep your business—using pre-approved, non-advertised “retention” offers that customer service reps can use at their discretion to prevent you from canceling service. We’ve seen carriers give up to 20% off service or special discounts on devices, but these offers vary based on your unique circumstances.

Upgrading Your Plan: Most deals for brand new phones require a trade-in and a specific phone plan to get the best deal. For example, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is available for much, much cheaper when you trade your phone and either select or already be on their Magenta Max or Magenta Plus plans.

Bring It All Together

When it comes time to buy a new phone—especially the latest model—it’s important to remember that getting the best deal is a combination of a lot of what you’ve just read. For example, trading in a phone, switching carriers, and changing your phone plan will score you a much better deal than if you simply traded in your phone. The trick is to buy at the right time, with the right options best suited for you in mind (switching to a new plan that caters to your preferences for example). While this can be a lot of work, it can mean the difference between $1,800 or paying $300.

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