How to Upgrade Your Cell Phone Before Your Contract Is Up

By Amy McClain

Waiting two years to get a new cellphone can be vexing to say the least. Shiny new devices with ever more powerful features are continually being released; old phones get lost or damaged, and yet months remain on your contract. Buying a phone at full retail price can put a serious strain on your wallet, but that may not be your only option. With a little research and some negotiation, you may be able to upgrade early. This could save you hundreds of dollars on a new phone.

Step 1

Review your mobile carrier's upgrade policy. Some providers offer an early upgrade program that allows you to upgrade a few months before your contract expires. Find the details on the company website, in your contract or by calling customer service.

Step 2

Negotiate with customer service. There are exceptions to every rule, and in some cases, a representative will make one for you. If your old cellphone has been lost, stolen or is broken, offer to sign a new contract early for a discount on a new phone. You will probably have more luck with this approach by calling your provider's toll-free hotline than going in to a store. It helps if your account is in good standing and with no past due balances.

Step 3

Call your service provider's customer service hotline and ask to speak to a representative in cancellations or the customer retention department. This is a last resort, to be used if you were unsuccessful when speaking to customer care. Explain your situation and mention that you are dissatisfied with the response you received from other representatives. Explain that you are considering canceling. You may be offered a discount on a device or an early upgrade as an incentive to remain a customer.

Step 4

Consider using auction sites or buying a used device from a friend. This is one way around negotiating with your mobile carrier and you may be able to get a phone at a much lower cost than full retail. Once you have your phone, simply move your SIM card over from the old phone or call your provider to have the phone added to your account. You won't need to sign a new contract to activate the new device.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be persistent and polite when contacting customer service. If you don't have success with one representative, call back in a few hours and talk to someone else rather than arguing.