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How to Score a Cheap iPhone This Holiday Season

By Adam Levy – Updated Nov 21, 2018 at 2:18PM

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Everything you need to know to save some money on your iPhone upgrade.

Black Friday can be a great opportunity to pick up the latest iPhone at a reduced price. Apple (AAPL 2.44%) typically announces the newest iPhones in September, and sales start shortly after. But if you can wait a little bit, you can usually snag a pretty good deal from one of the wireless carriers or a retailer during Black Friday.

Whether you're aiming to get a new iPhone XS and iPhone XR for yourself or a loved one this holiday season, here's how to score one for less.

A woman using an iPhone in the rain.

Image source: Apple.

Get a deal from your carrier

Every major carrier is offering an iPhone promotion this holiday season. Here's a quick rundown.

Verizon (VZ -0.77%)

Verizon is offering new customers up to $300 off (in statement credits) a new iPhone with select trade-ins (iPhone 6s or newer, Galaxy S8/Note 8). Older devices may qualify for a smaller statement credit. Existing customers will only get $100 for their trade-in. The statement credits are spread across 24 months.

AT&T (T -2.22%)

AT&T is offering a buy-one-get-one deal on the iPhone. Customers purchasing an iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone XR, iPhone X, iPhone XS, or iPhone XS Max are eligible for a free iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone XR, or $750 off one of the more expensive devices. The rebate comes in the form of statement credit over the next 24 months or 30 months, depending on the installment plan chosen, and it requires at least one new line of service.

T-Mobile (TMUS -1.20%)

T-Mobile is offering customers a free iPhone XR with the trade-in of an iPhone 6s or newer model iPhone. Existing customers will have to add an additional line to their plan, and new customers will have to activate at least two new lines in order to qualify. Additionally, T-Mobile requires customers to stick around for at least 36 months to receive full credit for their iPhone, otherwise they'll owe a balance on the device.

Sprint (NYSE: S)

Sprint is offering a lease-one-get-one deal on iPhones this year. Customers that lease an iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, or iPhone X are eligible for a free lease on an iPhone XR in the form of a $31.25 statement credit; no trade-in required. Customers can choose a more expensive phone, and pay the difference. Sprint requires two new line activations or one new line and one upgraded line, and the lease is for 18 months.

U.S. Cellular

U.S. Cellular is offering new customers a free iPhone XR with no trade-in required. The $750 comes in the form of a statement credit spread out over 30 months. U.S. Cellular also requires customers to subscribe to its Unlimited Plus Plan and its Device Protection+ plan in order to qualify. (Note that U.S. Cellular may not offer service in your market.)

Other providers

Prepaid and virtual network operators are offering special promotions as well. U.S. Mobile, for example, is offering $100 in statement credits (over 12 months) when you bring your own iPhone XR, iPhone XS, or iPhone XS Max to its service. Sprint's Boost Mobile is offering $100 off the iPhone XR at purchase. AT&T's Cricket Wireless is also offering $100 off for customers porting in a new number.

The iPhone XS displaying a photo of some cyclists.

Image source: Apple.

In-store deals

Some stores are offering special discounts on iPhones this Black Friday in order to get more customers in the door (or to their websites). Consumers may be able to combine some of these deals with deals from their carrier of choice in order to score a really cheap iPhone this year.

Walmart (WMT -1.33%)

Walmart is offering customers $400 back in the form of a store gift card when they purchase and activate one of last year's models: the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone X. It's also offering those that want one of the latest models -- the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, or iPhone XR -- a $300 gift card. Walmart only supports Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint, so T-Mobile customers will have to shop elsewhere. The deal begins Nov. 22 and it's only available in stores.

Target (NYSE: TGT)

Target is giving customers $250 back in the form of a store gift card when they purchase an iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max and activate it on Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint. Customers that want one of last year's models -- the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone X -- are eligible for a $150 gift card. The deal is available from Nov. 23 through Nov. 25.

Best Buy (NYSE: BBY)

Best Buy is giving Sprint customers the chance to upgrade to an iPhone X 256 GB model or iPhone X 64 GB with a $200 cash discount. Both devices are only available in silver for the discount. Customers will have to sign up for installment payments for 24 months with Sprint to pay off the rest of the balance.
Best Buy is also giving new Verizon customers $300 off an iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, or iPhone X. Existing Verizon customers may be eligible for a $100 discount on those devices. Customers will also have to sign up for 24-month financing and trade in an eligible device. It's very similar to the deal Verizon offers directly to customers, but Best Buy is offering a cash discount upfront instead of the statement credits offered by Verizon.


Costco is offering new Verizon subscribers $130 in Costco Cash on top of the $300 trade-in credit for their eligible device. Existing customers are eligible for $30 in Costco Cash on top of the $100 trade-in offer from Verizon. The deal expires Nov. 21.Costco is also offering Sprint customers who upgrade a single-line plan with an iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, or iPhone XR $200 in Costco Cash. That offer cannot be combined with the buy-one-get-one offer from Sprint. The deal expires Nov. 21.

Save room in your pocket for your extra cash

The new iPhones might all have bigger screens, but be sure to leave some room in your pockets for all of that extra cash you could save this holiday shopping season. Whether you go directly to your carrier for a deal, or brave the madness of in-store shopping, you should be able to save hundreds of dollars on a new iPhone this year.

Adam Levy owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Costco Wholesale, T-Mobile US, and Verizon Communications. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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