Your Guide to Buying an iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus: Lease, Trade-In or Pay Up-Front?
Image: Apple Inc.

The Apple iPhone 8 has started pre-sales at all the major mobile carriers and apply.

How do you buy an iPhone 8? That’s the golden question and, if you don’t spend some time researching what each mobile carrier and Apple is offering, you could get stuck in terms you don’t want.

Over the next few minutes, we’re going to help you understand exactly which ways you can buy an iPhone 8 from Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and Apple.

Before we get there, here’s a quick rundown of the pricing on iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus:

  • iPhone 8: 64GB, $699; 256 GB, $849
  • iPhone 8 Plus: 64GB, $799; 256GB, $949

Buying an iPhone 8 Through T-Mobile’s Trade-In and EIP Program

T-Mobile gives you the option of pre-ordering the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus outright, using their Equipment Installment Plan (EIP) or by participating in their trade-in program.

EIP

T-Mobile’s EIP program splits your phone’s cost into 24 monthly payments. For the iPhone 8, you won’t be required to put anything down and your monthly payments will be $29.17.

If you want the iPhone 8 Plus, you’ll have to put $79.99 down and make monthly payments of $30. The EIP plan doesn’t charge any interest or fees to finance.

Trade-In Plus EIP

That trade-in program will give you up to $300 toward your iPhone 8 if you trade in the following iPhones: iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 6, 6 Plus or 6s Plus.

There are a couple of catches, first, your $300 trade-in value isn’t deducted from your phone’s price all at once. Rather, it’s split up into 24 payments monthly credits of $12.50 that are applied to your EIP payments, reducing them down to $16.67/month.

If you’re on an EIP from the iPhone 7 you bought, remember that you’ll lose any credit from your iPhone 6 trade-in.

Also, half of your iPhone 7 needs to be paid off before you can do an EIP for your iPhone 8.

Buying an iPhone 8 Through Apple’s iPhone Upgrade and Trade-In Programs

Apple brands their iPhone Upgrade Program as a way to work directly with Apple to finance your phone instead of through a carrier.

Their program is similar to T-Mobile’s in that your payments are split up over the course of 24 months and that there’s no interest charged.

What’s different about Apple’s payment plan is that you’ll have to add Apple’s in-house warranty, AppleCare, to your order, which results in monthly payments of $34.50 for the iPhone 8 and $39.50 for the iPhone 8 Plus.

You also have the option of pairing Apple’s upgrade program with a trade-in. At the time of publishing, Apple was offering the following trade-in values for their phones:

  • iPhone 5: $40
  • iPhone 5c: $35
  • iPhone 5s: $60
  • iPhone SE, iPhone 6: $145
  • iPhone 6 Plus: $175
  • iPhone 6s: $200
  • iPhone 6s Plus: $250
  • iPhone 7: $325
  • iPhone 7 Plus: $375

According to the fine print, trade-in values can vary based on what kind of condition your phone is in.

Buying an iPhone 8 Through AT&T’s Next and Next Every Year and Trade-In Programs

Aside from paying for your phone in-full at the time of purchase, you have a pair of options for paying for your new iPhone 8 through AT&T, plus the ability to trade in your iPhone 7.

Next Payment Plan

AT&T’s Next plan is based on 30-months of payments, which reduces your monthly payment by a few dollars but extends the typical 24-month repayment plan by six months.

If you’re choosing the 64GB iPhone 8, your monthly payments will be $23.24/month and $26.67/month for the 64GB iPhone 8 Plus.

Compared to T-Mobile’s 24-month EIP program, you’ll save yourself about $6 a month by extending your payments to 30 months via AT&T’s Next plan.

The main catch to this plan is that you have to have 80% of your current phone paid off in order to upgrade to the new iPhone 8.

Here’s the deal: 80% of the purchase price of the 32GB iPhone 7 is $519. If you’ve been on a Next plan, then 12 monthly payments amount to $260. You’ll need to pay another $259 out of pocket to close out your old Next plan and start a new one for iPhone 8.

What you decide to do is your choice, but ask yourself: Was it worth it to pay $519 to use the iPhone 7? Because that’s exactly what you’re doing when you pay 80% of your old iPhone to get the new one.

Next Year Payment Plan

This plan functions just like the Next plan but takes place over 24 months and requires a 50% buyout in order to get a new iPhone. So, instead of being on the hook for $519, you’re required to pay $324 of your iPhone 7 to get the iPhone 8.

Here’s the good news: 12 months of payments will meet the 50% requirement, so you won’t pay anything out of pocket.

Based on these two options – Next and Next Year – we suggest signing up for Next Year so you’re not required to front 80% of your iPhone 8’s purchase price in order to upgrade to the iPhone 9, presumably, next year.

iPhone 7 Trade-In

At the time of publishing, AT&T was offering up to $300 if you want to trade in your iPhone 7 for an iPhone 8. Here’s the deal, though.

Whereas T-Mobile will string out your trade-in bonus in the form of monthly payment reductions, AT&T gives you an AT&T gift card if you process the trade-in online and instant credit if you do it in the store.

According to AT&T’s fine print, the gift card can only be used to pay your wireless bill or for purchases in AT&T stores.

Buying an iPhone 8 Through Verizon’s Trade-In and Payment Plan

Verizon is running their iPhone pre-sales just like everyone else. They offer a 24-month payment plan that you can pair with an iPhone trade-in program.

There’s a little wrinkle to the program, though. You’ll have to pay a down payment on your payment plan if you have poor credit: $280, according to Verizon’s website, for a 64GB iPhone 8.

If you have to make that down payment, your monthly payment will be $17.49 per month. Without the down payment, your monthly payment is $29.16.

Verizon’s trade-in plan is really straightforward. These are the prices you can expect if, as the fine print states, your phone is in “good working & cosmetic condition”:

  • $300 for any iPhone 7
  • $200 for any iPhone 6 and SE
  • $100 for any iPhone 5

The credit is applied over the span of 24 months, just like T-Mobile.

Buying an iPhone 8 Through Sprint’s iPhone Forever Lease or Free iPhone for New Customers

At the time of publishing, Sprint was running a pair of iPhone promotions for existing and new customers.

iPhone Forever

Sprint’s iPhone Forever plan is an 18-month lease plan in which you pay 18 months of equal payments. You can upgrade to a new iPhone after 12 months as long as you’ve made 12 payments.

In other words, Sprint wants to make sure you’ve paid for about 66% of the phone before you can upgrade, which puts this plan in between the two AT&T plans that require a 50% or 80% payout to upgrade.

New Customer Offer

Sprint is offering new customers a free iPhone if they can trade-in their current phone, open a new line and “buy” their new iPhone on an 18-month iPhone Forever lease.

Here’s the trick, though. You have to own your trade-in and the trade-in has to be one of the following phones in order to get a free iPhone 8:

  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8

If you don’t have one of these phones, Sprint has a list of other phones that can get you your new iPhone 8 with a 50% discount. Sprint’s list of 50%-off trade-ins includes 17 phones: all iPhone 6 models, both Google Pixels, five different Motorola moto Z’s, the two Galaxy S7’s and a couple of other phones.

Don’t forget about the “you have to own your trade-in” rule, either. What this means is that you can’t have a phone on lease with another carrier and then trade it in to Sprint. You have to pay that phone off before you can trade it in.

A Quick Word About Cell Phone Insurance

For many years, the easiest way to insure your phone was through your mobile carrier.

For example, Verizon charged $7.15 a month for insurance on a 32GB iPhone 7. The deductible was $149, which means you’d pay $149 to get a new phone in the event that it was stolen or damaged.

Thankfully, you aren’t forced to use Verizon or any other carrier’s insurance plan. Wells Fargo offers multiple credit cards that carry free cell phone protection as long as you pay your bill with the card. The U.S. Bank Platinum Visa and the Chase Ink Business Preferred also offer cell phone insurance.

The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa is a good example of what you can expect from a credit card’s protection plan.

If you have to make a claim, you’ll pay a $25 deductible. The catch is that your reimbursement is capped at $600.

So, if you have to replace a new 64GB iPhone 8 ($699), you’ll pay your deductible plus $99.

Either way, what you pay out of pocket via your credit card’s insurance is cheaper than the Verizon deductible plus monthly premiums.

The big plus of carrier insurance is that, in the case of Verizon, they’ll cover any headphones, cases, and chargers stolen along with your phone.

Are iPhone Leases a Good Way to Buy an iPhone 8?

Wireless carriers have formed their leases in such a way that they make money when you upgrade after one year.

For example, Sprint’s iPhone Forever plan guarantees that Sprint will get 12 months of payments whenever someone upgrades to a new iPhone.

AT&T crafted their plans to earn them 50% or 80% of an iPhone’s purchase price if you decide to upgrade.

On the other hand, you have carriers like T-Mobile and Verizon who give you big trade-in values to reduce the cost of your new phone.

Apple has mediocre trade-in values and forces you to purchase AppleCare along with your phone.

Whichever plan you choose, you’re going to be making monthly payments but your phone will never be yours. In fact, not only will you be paying your carrier or Apple to use an iPhone, but then you’re giving the phone back.

Basically, you’re renting your iPhones year by year. It may not seem like a big deal, but think about it like this: Is using an iPhone for a year worth the more than $240 in phone rent you’re paying?

If it’s not a big deal, we get it; iPhones are amazing and there’s really nothing like them. But if you’re trying to be a savvy consumer, pick an iPhone you love – 6, 7, or 8 – and stick with it until you pay it off. At that point, you can probably get a better payout selling it yourself than trading it in to your mobile carrier.

Think about this: Verizon is handing out $300 for iPhone 7 trade-ins, but, at the time of publishing, New York’s Craigslist had more than 800 iPhone 7’s for sale and many of those phones were being sold for around $500.


J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren is a personal finance reporter who examines credit cards, credit scores and bank products. J.R. is a three-time winner at the Florida Press Club’s Excellence in Journalism contest and his advice has been featured in MSN and Fox’s money sections.


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