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Apple recently launched a new iPhone trade up program that gives U.S. consumers a new way to buy an iPhone. The program combines Apple's existing iPhone Upgrade Program with trade-in offers to reduce the monthly fee when consumers trade in their old iPhones.
How is this Different from Apple's Upgrade Program?
The iPhone Upgrade Program is an installment sales contract for new iPhones. Under your monthly installment plan, you are eligible to upgrade your device yearly by trading in your existing smartphone.
The Trade Up With Installment program requires that you have a completely paid off smartphone - and the trade-in value is then credited against the purchase price. This reduces your monthly installment payment on your new iPhone.
And, obviously, the larger your trade-in value, the smaller your monthly payments will be going forward.
And, the good news is, under both Apple programs, your installment payments are interest free.
As we discussed in our article about Apple's Upgrade Program, there may be better deals out there from the carriers. So, is the same true about the Trade Up with Installments Program? Well, let's find out ...
If you just want a quick summary of the Trade Up with Installments program, and don't plan on reading any further, here is what you need to know:
- Available at U.S. Apple Stores
- Trade in an old iPhone, Windows, or Android phone and apply the value to a new iPhone
- Pay off your new iPhone in 24 monthly interest-free installments
- New phone is unlocked so you are not tied to a specific carrier
Keep on reading for more details on how the program works and our thoughts on whether it is worth pursuing.
How the Trade Up Program Works
The Trade Up with Installment program is basically an interest-free 2-year loan with credit decisions handled by Citizens Bank. If approved, Citizens Bank will purchase the phone on your behalf and give you monthly payments that have no hidden costs or interest charges.
There's no word on the minimum credit score to be approved, but you should have at least average credit.
If approved, your monthly installment payment will be based on the value of your trade in device and the cost of the new iPhone you buy. The newer your trade in, the lower your monthly cost. And you will then pay off your new iPhone over 24 monthly interest-free payments.
For example, trading up from an iPhone 4 to a 128GB iPhone 6S Plus will give you a monthly payment of just over $35. Trading up from an iPhone 5 to an iPhone 6 will give you a payment of less than $15 per month.
You can trade in iPhones going back to the iPhone 4. And Apple also is accepting Android and Windows phones as well!
The program will offer up to $300 in trade-in value for Android devices and up to $350 for iPhones. You can get $290 by trading in a Samsung Galaxy S6, for example. You can use this link to see what Apple thinks your current smartphone is worth.
Before you get too excited, you should know that you will need to bring your old phone into an Apple store to get started. (You can find your nearest Apple retail location using this tool.)
Explain Again the Difference from Apple's Upgrade Program
The Trade Up Program differs from the iPhone Upgrade Program in two key aspects:
First, you are trading in an existing smartphone that you own free and clear as a credit towards your purchase price.
Second, you cannot trade in your iPhone every year for the new model. You are entering into an installment sales contract, not a lease.
So you will need to pay off your remaining installments before you can trade up again.
Also, unlike the Upgrade Program, AppleCare+ coverage is not included with the Trade Up with Installments program. You can choose to buy AppleCare+ coverage for $99 or $129 separately.
Is the Trade Up Program a Good Deal?
According to Apple, the Trade Up with Installments program is designed for people with older iPhones that are already completely paid off.
If you get approved, you can enjoy a new iPhone with low monthly payments and no hidden costs. Your monthly payment is exactly the cost of the new phone (minus your trade in value) divided by 24.
While the program is very similar to Apple's existing Trade Up program, it does combine decent trade-in offers with a no-interest installment agreement that can give you a new iPhone without extra costs.
But, despite its ease of use, Apple is not offering any better trade in values than the phone carriers are. And by going through Apple, you will miss out on being able to take advantage of the deals that the carriers are constantly rolling out.
Additionally, I have had great success re-selling my old smartphones on Craigslist and getting more that what carriers or recycling programs offer for trade-ins. While this does not reduce the monthly payment for the phone, overall I end up better off.
So the real value of Apple's Trade Up program is its ease of use versus re-selling the phone yourself. And not having to deal directly with a wireless carrier.
On the other hand, you will not be saving any money. And may even be leaving money on the table whether from better incentives from a carrier or spending a bit more time to sell your old phone on your own.
In the end, I think this program is okay - but does not change the landscape of buying a new phone or selling your old one. And I think you may well be able to get a better deal by checking out what the phone carriers are offering.
If you are not ready to jump on to the Trade Up with Installment Program bandwagon, you may want to consider reading one of these articles to see what else is out there: