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How to: Upgrade Phones at Verizon and Keep Unlimited Data

moto x verizon

What’s the number one worry around these parts when it comes to upgrading to a new phone? Keeping unlimited data on Verizon, of course. Over the last couple of years, we have seen wireless carriers realize how important data is to their bottom lines and future earnings potential, which has in turn allowed them to start charging you a premium for every single GB you consume. With that realization and price hike, we also saw the death of unlimited data and the introduction of tiered or shared data plans that offer you less for a steeper price. Yes, you are now getting screwed by most carriers. They are finding ways to take away your unlimited data, while offering up services and phones that beg you to consume more, so that they can continue to nickel and dime you. It’s a terrible situation for consumers, but since you have chosen a carrier more than likely because they offer you superior coverage in your area, you are stuck taking it.

Thankfully, there are a few ways for you to work the system to continue to enjoy that unlimited data that you locked into years ago. We have a couple that we’d like to go over to, so that as you approach contract end dates, you’ll know the proper steps to take to not give up your freedom. 

Option 1:  Buy at Full Retail

If you’d like to keep unlimited data going forward on Verizon, all you need to do is continue to buy phones at full retail. This means paying $500-$650 for top tier 4G LTE Android phones, so that you don’t have to sign a contract. You see, as you sign contracts, that’s when Verizon has the power to take away your current unlimited data plan and force you into something you aren’t going to be satisfied with. If you buy at full retail, all you need to do is then slap your current SIM card into the new phone and continue to enjoy your current monthly plan. Since there is no upfront discount or contract signing, you get an expensive new phone on the same data plan you already had.

This is probably the least attractive option upfront for most consumers to choose, since it’s the most expensive, but we still feel that it’s your best overall. If you can force yourself to save up for phones and pay for them at full retail once your contract has run out, not only are you then keeping unlimited data, but you are also turning your account status to “month-to-month,” which means Verizon no longer has control over you. With a month-to-month account, you can walk away at any time without having to pay an ETF (early termination fee).

The best place to order phones at full retail from Verizon is through the Iconic Portal.

Option 2:  Steal Another Line’s Upgrade

If you have more than one line on your Verizon account, the easiest way to keep unlimited data is to steal or transfer upgrades between lines and then use the newly purchased phones on your line with the unlimited data. Let me try to explain further, as there are details you don’t want to miss.

If you have multiple lines on an account, Verizon will let you take upgrades and transfer them between lines as long as the transfer is going from phone to phone. For example, my situation looks like this – 3 line account, two have unlimited data, with a third setup as a feature phone that runs me $9.99 per month. Since I keep my phones on a month-to-month status for the most part, I almost always have an upgrade available on one of my two unlimited data lines. So should I want to upgrade one of those two unlimited lines and keep unlimited data, all I need to do is transfer my upgrade over to that feature phone line and use the upgrade for a new smartphone.

There are a couple of ways to do this. The first would be to walk into a store, tell a sales rep that you have an upgrade to use, but don’t want to lose unlimited data. So you are going to transfer your upgrade to a different line, use the upgrade there, and then actually use the phone on an unlimited data line. They should be able to walk you through the process with no problem, just make sure when paperwork and signatures are flying around, that your unlimited data line isn’t being touched. They may have to add, remove, or tweak a data package on the line that you are technically using the upgrade for, but again, just make sure no changes are happening to your unlimited line. If you are like me, and use a feature phone line for upgrades to keep unlimited data, you can always remove a data package and return that line to a feature phone line of $9.99 per month once the entire process is all sorted out and your new phone is running on your unlimited line.

upgrades

The second method involves ordering a phone online from Verizon’s store. To begin, you need to transfer an upgrade to a line that you don’t care that much about (a feature phone or tiered data line). You can transfer upgrades in the dashboard through My Verizon. Once you have the upgrade transferred to a non-unlimited data line (could be a feature phone line), you walk through the ordering process with that line, buy a phone, and likely deal with some sort of smartphone data package add-on (likely 2GB for $30).

Once the phone arrives, some recommend that you activate it on that feature phone/other line temporarily using the instructions that arrive with the phone. Be aware that this will also temporarily activate the previously mentioned smartphone data package. After activating, you will then need to call customer service to get the feature phone placed back in the system on that line as a $9.99 feature phone. This will kill off the 2GB $30 smartphone plan you just had on there and return your account to its previous state. Once that has been completed, grab the SIM card from your current phone with unlimited data and place it in the new smartphone that you would like to use on your unlimited line.

This may seem like a lot of work, and I’m not 100% sure those extra steps are needed, but it is a proven method. Should you receive your new phone and activate it immediately on your unlimited data line without addressing the feature phone/other line, there is a chance that Verizon will take that as you using an unlimited line as an upgrade, which could in turn wipe out your unlimited data. I personally don’t think that’s possible, since you are only making changes to your feature phone line and not your unlimited line, but it’s better to play it safe.

*Note – You may be able to remove the smartphone plan on your feature phone line through your account at Verizon’s website. Also, customer service can look back through your history to find the feature phone you’d like to use over and over again, so there is no need to keep that feature phone handy.

Keep in mind that even if you transfer your upgrade to another line and then use the upgrade, you are extending your contract on the line which the upgrade originated (could be your unlimited line), not the line you transferred the upgrade to.

This is probably going to be the most commonly used, assuming you have an account with more than one line attached because it is the least expensive.

Option 3:  Find an Awesome VZW Store Manager

This may sound silly, but there really are ways for managers to override systems and return your account to unlimited data after purchasing a new phone at a discounted price. I haven’t personally gone this route, but a number of readers over the last year have emailed in with their success stories from select Verizon stores and dealing with employees who help get authorization on unlimited plans. I don’t have any stores to recommend going to to keep those unlimited plans, but I’m sure readers can help you out in the comments.

Option 4:  Sign-up for New Service, Cancel, and Pay the ETF

This last option for you should technically work, but it definitely sounds like a lot of work and won’t save you all that much in the end. Should you choose to go this route, this is how it could go down.

If you sign-up a new line on your account or even completely new account altogether, you could in theory buy a phone at a subsidized price for say $199, then cancel the line or account, pay an ETF (early termination fee) of $350, and come out slightly lower than a full retail priced phone. Most top tier phones run you $600 to $650 off-contract, but at $199 for the subsidized price plus $350 for an ETF, you are looking at somewhere around $550. And that’s assuming that Verizon doesn’t charge you up front for the first month’s data and minute package, an activation fee, and any other new account costs.

I know unlimited data is important, but that all sounds like one massive headache. To keep it simple and clean, save up another $100 and buy the phone outright.

Wrap-up

As I mentioned in the beginning, carriers are going to do whatever they can to get you out of your unlimited data plan. Hopefully these couple of options will help save some of you from being nickel and dimed with overpriced tiered data options. None of them are pretty, and you’ll more than likely use the option 2 loophole until Verizon closes it up, but you do still have options.

Also, if you successfully upgraded recently and managed to keep unlimited data, please share your story in the comments.

  • edmicman

    Just recently, I changed my plan from unlimited data to a share everything plan with 4GB. I was grandfathered in with two smartphones, 1400 shared minutes on a family plan, and a hodgepodge of text message allotments between the two of us…she had like 1000 messages and free in-network messaging, I had 500 and mobile to mobile or something. And my bill was ~$180 before corporate discount.

    I looked at my numbers and we weren’t coming close to using 2GB/month combined for the past 6 months. This is with me on a GNex and her on an iPhone, and I’m streaming music or podcasts on my commute most days. The share everything plan let me stop worrying about text messages and 4GB should give me plenty of headroom. And it’s costing me $150 before corporate discount.

    I realized the unlimited data thing was purely psychological – I didn’t want to lose it because I already had it, yet I realistically never would come close to using even a moderate fraction of what I could get at a much cheaper rate. Is it worth 30 bucks a month to have a clumsy old plan and data availability that I’ll probably never need to use? For me, no.

  • UncagedChipmunk

    You forgot one Kellen, I went to buy a DROID MAXX (which fried its screen in 6 hrs and its replacement was filled with bugs so I’m back on the Nexus) at full retail and they offered me the Device Payment plan. They spread the full cost of the phone in twelve equal payments plus a $24 dollar charge for the program. You first payment is due right then an there but they don’t touch you plan whatsoever. Yes, you pay $24 over the full price but it lessens the sting for most people who can fork out the full amount on the spot. I found it weird they offered it to me but I guess they want to make money somehow. Your account has to be in good standing though.

    • Adam Medina

      They offered this to me on the day they started it. It’s called Verizon Edge. I was swapping phones and needed a sim card or i wouldn’t have gone in. They said I would still lose my unlimited data package but they would offer me 6 GB per month for the price im paying now. But they also told me not to do it because my three month average was 19GB per month. So I don’t think this is an option for us unlimited data users.

      • Uncagedchipmunk

        We are not speaking about the same thing here. I am not referring to their Edge program which is a complete rip off. I am talking about the Device payment program which they rarely speak about to customers as it is a better option for unlimited data users.

        http://yourguide.vzw.com/devices/device-payment-plan/

        • Adam Medina

          Ahhh. Nice. Didn’t know there was 2 payment plan options. Thank you for clearing that up.

      • VetteVert

        No, it’s called the Device Payment plan. Edge is completely different.

  • moosc

    You forgot the device payment plan. It’s 2$a month to use this option but not a bad deal. I just did this for my lg G2.

    • Adam Medina

      Really? The store said I would lose unlimited data and they offered me 6GB plan for the 29.99 I’m currently paying for unlimited???? Verizon Edge right????

  • djcs219

    What if you have two phones that are both able to be upgraded? You don’t want to lose unlimited data. I am confused how I would be able to keep my unlimited data. Won’t I have to get a third phone and when I do since I want a new smartphone I will have to pay the $30 for the internet access? Can someone help me out? Thanks.

    • Tim242

      If both of your lines are unlimited, you can’t upgrade either to keep unlimited. You can add a 3rd line, it adds a $30 2GB plan to that extra line. Then, swap SIM’s. Then, all is left is to find a non smartphone to put on the extra line. Then, you just pay $10/month for the extra line

  • Nathan Devall

    Also I used to work at Best Buy so I know how to finagle the systems so unlimited data can be kept so if anyone has questions let me know

    • Mark Faustino

      You mean finagle the systems in which we would pay the discounted price *AND* still keep unlimited data?

      • Nathan Devall

        Yes

    • Dinky Peterlage

      Yes, I want to get the HTC One at Best Buy for $50 and keep my unlimited. I didn’t want to think I was wasting my time talking to a blue shirt about it.

      • Nathan Devall

        Just to clarify the upgrade must be on any other line but yours. If you really can transfer upgrades between lines on verizon’s website (I didn’t know this was possible but if it is that is awesome) then it’s quite easy to keep the unlimited data while still getting a subsidized phone in a Best Buy. If the person in store doesn’t know how to do it it’s simple. You basically are “upgrading” the other line on your account that has the upgrade to whatever phone you want to get. Then they go back in the system and put the previous device for that line onto that line. That frees up the phone you just bought to now be hardware swapped (this doesn’t touch the data on your line since you aren’t signing a contract for this part of the process) onto your line and thus keeping the data but still getting the upgrade price.

    • Adam Medina

      I see on the best buy website when I put in my verizon info it says they can sell me a discounted phone and keep my current data plan, but I didn’t trust it. They can upgrade me and let me keep my unlimited data??????

      • Nathan Devall

        No if you upgrade a line directly with unlimited data you will lose it (unless it’s an error) or if you go into a Best Buy and have them just do an alternate upgrade so you get a new phone but use another line’s upgrade that also loses the unlimited. The method I described above is a way to keep it. It’s basically an alternate upgrade done the harder/manual/long way because Best Buy has a button in their system for alternate upgrades but it removes unlimited data. Swapping hardware manually does not though.

        • Adam Medina

          But can I still buy the phone at the subsidized pricing?

          • Nathan Devall

            Yes. As long as you don’t use YOUR upgrade you can keep it. It requires work arounds like I described above or in the article here

  • Dustin Casper

    Most “OBVIOUSLY” post evar from DL.

  • Nathan Devall

    The easiest way I have found to keep my unlimited data is to order a phone from Bestbuy.com under the line that has the upgrade (in my case it is one of my family members that either has a feature phone or a non-unlimited data plan) and then when it comes to my house I pop my SIM card in it and voila it is now my phone with unlimited data and never touches or affects the line that had the upgrade. This is by far the easiest way to do it. This won’t obviously work if your SIM card doesn’t fit the new phone but you can always cut/punch it down to size or go to verizon and have them activate the new SIM on your line.

  • richkoos

    So the way I got my htc one at contract price and kept unlimited data was by opening a new line on our family plan with no phone attached to it. They made it a demo unit or something, and the plan is only $10 a month + $35 activation. So in the end I paid $200 for the one, and I am going to pay $10 a month for the next two years. Which adds up to be $475 over the two years, which I think is way better than spending $600 all at once, and in 2 years I can upgrade this number again or use my upgrade finally.

  • Jason Self

    Here’s what I am wondering about getting a phone at Costco.
    The phone you get there is the wholesale cost of the phone.
    You only pay tax on what the phone cost…so if the phone is $200
    then the tax is biased on $200.
    After you buy the phone you walk back to the phone area and they
    set up a new contract.
    The thing is – if your rep at Costco is willing – they will set you up for
    an added line for $10 per month on a dumb phone just like in “option 2″

    They just want to get the 2 year contract. Weather or not it is for a
    smartphone or a dumb phone.
    So what I am getting at is: Why could we not …
    1 buy the phone at the register
    2 walk to the phone area
    3 setup an account with an old phone for $10 per month (add a line)
    and 2 year contract.
    4 use new smart phone for unlimited account
    5 go home
    6 cancel account for dumb phone and pay 175 ETF for dumb phone
    7 ????
    8 profit from the savings over the cost of buying a phone at full cost

    • Tim242

      Not so fast there. If you cancel the line, it’s $350, not $175.

      • Jason Self

        It is 175 to cancel a dumb phone line
        Moreover in step 3 an account was set up for a dumb phone
        therefore the fee would be 175

  • jownzy

    Well, too bad this post wasn’t made around the lunch hour. Just went in and bought a full price Maxx. For the 30 minutes it took for them to sell it to me at full price, they certainly did the hard sell trying to convince me I didn’t need unlimited and nobody thinks they need that much data anymore, blah blah blah. I have 5 lines on my plane, two of them are dumb phones which don’t require their upgrades.

    Right before they cutoff the upgrade with unlimited two years ago, I used all the upgrades to buy SG3’s and sell them for profit. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this this time around.

    Now I wonder, should I go back to the store try and “return” the device and re-buy it with an upgrade? I guess I’d have to pay the 30 dollar restocking fee, but I could still potentially save a couple hundred dollars.

    I’m not real interested in extending my contract with Verizon, so I may just be satisfied with option 1.

    • Tim242

      They don’t even try to tell me that I don’tneed unlimited haha

  • David’s

    one question. i have a family plan with my wife. i have unlimited data; she has 4 gb x month. i have an upgrade available she does not. mine is a note 2; hers is a gs4. can i transfer my upgrade to her, order one phone then switch sim cards and keep unlimited data?

    • Tim242

      Upgrades don’t transfer. Your line would be upgraded, and contract extended on your line. It is a cross upgrade, meaning upgrading your line, but phone goes to the other line. So unfortunately, your plan won’t work : (

      • DanSan

        what he said is exactly what kellen described in method #2…

        transferring his upgrade to a dumb line or a phone u dont care about.

        Back in april i used my moms upgrade, extended her contract on her dumb phone and stole the S4 from it, reactivated her dumb phone.

        Now i have an upgrade on my line. I dont want to use it because ill lose my unlimited data but my mom wants a new phone soon. I am going to transfer that upgrade to her and let her do what she wants with it. this way it shouldnt affect my line at all.

  • IanAndersonLOL

    You forgot the adding a new line to your family plan and having them put the ESN of an old dumb phone you used to have on it so you don’t have to pay for data, just the $9.99 dumb phone charge, and put the new smart phone onto your primary line.

  • yummy

    Time to make the donuts

  • mcdonsco

    I have another method that I just used that worked too…best method so far.

    Setup a new $10/month line, got the phone, then changed NUMBERS on accounts (not phones), then changed phones, then changed numbers back…the new contract went onto my unlimited plan and I was able to cancel the $10/month plan with no etf and kept the new phone…this results in a new contract on the unlimited data line, but who cares?

    • tomn1ce

      What happen to the other data plan. In order to get a smartphone you have to get a data plan….

  • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

    Regarding option 4. If, I go to, say Amazon Wireless, open a new line and buy a discounted new smartphone like the HTC One here:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EN68XJC/

    It’s $49. Activate and then cancel the service, pay the $350 ETF. Now, the $649 HTC One becomes $399. Will that work?

    • Ray

      I was thinking the same thing! anyone know if there is a problem here?

      • Dusty

        Yes it will work but you have to remember that you have to cancel after 14 days in order to keep the device. So to add some missing fees. $49 for phone + $350 for ETF + $35 Activation Fee + Prorated amount of monthly bill (Assuming you go with lowest shared plan of $80 for 500mb??? and paying 1/2 of that for 15 days of service = $40) so you are looking at roughly$475 or with taxes rounding up $500 ish… and for Amazon remember they charge a double ETF if im not mistaken if you change something within 6 months can’t remember but double check their fine print.

        • Tim242

          Nope. Amazon charges a separate ETF. You’d pay them and Verizon.

      • Tim242

        No. Amazon also has an ETF.

    • Tim242

      Nope, Amazon charges a separate ETF than Verizon. So, you’d be hit twice.

  • Sam

    Here’s my scenario.

    Two Lines: $139.99 unlimited data/text, 1400 minutes 3rd Line: $9.99 plus $29.99 unlimited data MINUS $20 data discount.
    4th Line: Standard $9.99 plus $29.99 unlimited data.

    3 lines are month to month, my line is not upgradable until Jan 2014.

    3 of the people are looking to leave to other family plans because they use next to no data.

    How can I get one of their upgrades before they leave and retain my unlimited? Trying to get down to one line.

    • Tim242

      TIf you use their upgrade, it extendsthe contract on that line.e

  • Chippah

    Can Anyone help with my scenario?

    Line #1 Gnex Upgrade AVAILABLE
    Line #2 Gnex Upgrade Available on 02/14
    Line #3 dumb phone on month to month.

    I need to turn the 2 gnexes into Note 3s and keep unlimited.
    Do I have any options?

    Cheers!

    • Aj Bastedo

      yes…upgrade the dumb phone line,..get a note 3
      put the note 3 on line 1
      transfer line 1’s upgrade to the dumb phone line….get a note 3
      wait til 2/14 to get your third note 3 by transfering the upfrade again to the dumb phone

      • Chippah

        Aj, Thank you sir! You are the mane, and this finally makes sense now. This here is a PLAN!
        Cheers to you !
        Now I dont have to listen to the old lady bitch and moan when i sit there with my Note 3 while she still rocks the gnex with the shattered (but still running) screen.. Bububububu Boooyah! Double gunz! pew pew!

      • Tim242

        You can’t transfer upgrades and keep unlimited.

  • Riza

    Or you can do the option I do, get a best buy credit card buy the phone from them purchases over 300$ are 6 months no interest. pay it off in monthly installments before the 6 months is over not any cheaper but at least it don’t hit you all at once. also as they added bonus become a reward zone member and get yourself points towards best buy gift certificates in which you can buy more stuff ;)

    • Riza

      As a added bonus

  • Aj Bastedo

    HELP!…this is my senario and my question:
    Line A: unlimited data …month to month..upgrade available
    now i have old feature phones…what if i added a line and activated one…and then transfered my upgrade….to the dumb phone…whats my best option to get the upgrade…and how much would i have to pay for the dumb line….and could i cancel the dumb line after the upgrade is complete?

    • Nathaniel Newman

      I’d use the Add a Line option. Is cheaper up front. But it does add up over the years.

      • Aj Bastedo

        so id have to pay 9.99$ for 24 months? is the etf for a dumb phone the same cost?

        • Nathaniel Newman

          You’d be using that new line for a lower cost Smartphone buy. So ETF is based on smartphone purchase. No matter if you put a feature phone on it or not. $350.

          • Aj Bastedo

            just got done talking with vzw….i could add a dumb phone line with one of my old dumb phones…upgrade asap…switch the phone over…and just pay 9,99 for the added line a month for 24 months…

          • Nathaniel Newman

            You got it. I did that 2 years ago to get the Bionic.

  • Nathaniel Newman

    I did option 2. It was painless. I wanted to get the free Commando 4G to go along with my Galaxy S4. So I used one of my upgrades on my 3 line account. Bought and activated on that line. Then swapped SIMS to my phone. Called VZW had Data dropped and feature phone put back on.

  • TheDrunkenClam

    Great.. Now if only Verizon had a device worth upgrading to. As in not locked down all to hell. And the Moto X has only 16gb storage. Is there not a 32gb version or have I missed something here?
    16gb.. You guys can’t be serious here.

  • Bryant

    Option 4 would be a real pain.

    There are so many automatic fees in place that you’ll be calling back for months getting each one waived. My situation. Preordered the MAXX. Canceled before it shipped and was told everything is A-OK. I was slapped with activation ($35), device cost ($300), ETF ($350), 1st Months fee ($110), pro-rated current months fees (~$50 or whatever).

  • RepsolRider

    Line 1 (mine) unlimited – upgrade available
    Line 2 (wife) 4GB plan – upgrade available.

    If I upgrade line 2 and then move that new device to line 1 what happens to my other upgrade? Does line one still have it? I want to upgrade both devices, keep unlimited on line one and not pay full price for either. Is this possible to do?

    • Tim242

      Yes, that will work just fine. All you have to do is swap SIM’s.

      • RepsolRider

        So after I upgrade line two and move the new phone to line 1, I will still have an upgrade left on line one? that I can then transfer to line 2 and upgrade that one again.

        • Tim242

          I’m sorry, I misread your post. You can’t use line 1’s upgrade at all, without losing unlimited. A cross upgrade extends the contract on the original line, not the one that gets the phone. So, only one upgrade is possible. You can add a line though, if you can find a dumb phone to put on it. Then, you are only out $10/month.

          • Cameron

            I have been told at least by a few managers in my area at Verizon stores that if you “give” the upgrade to line 2 from line 1 you won’t lose unlimited data. That is what I was told by a few people.

            Go into a Verizon store talk to a few people and ask the coolest one and they will probably get you what you need.

          • Tim242

            Line one cannot be upgraded without losing unlimited…unless a manager goes against policy. The contract applies to the line with the the upgrade, not the line the phone goes to.

          • RepsolRider

            Well in that case, I guess it’s new phone for me! In about 6 months or so, when my wife can’t stand her gnex anymore, she can have my phone and I’ll have to suck it up and pay full retail or add a dumb phone line.

  • luthi3n

    Went into a Verizon store today and asked about option 2. Was told it wasn’t possible. Two lines on the family account. I currently have an S3 with unlimited and am eligible for an upgrade. My father is the other line on the account. We asked if I could transfer my upgrade to him, have him get the new phone on his line with tiered data, and then just swap my S3 with the new phone he got. The rep said we couldn’t do it and Verizon Customer Service said the same thing on the phone. But from reading #2, it sounds like what we tried and others are saying it’s possible. Were we getting the run around?

    • Tim242

      It would have to be his line eligible, for it to work. If you transfer your upgrade, your line is still the one that gets the contract. You can add a line, put your SIM in the new phone, then put a dumb phone on the added line. Then, you pay $10/mo for your new phone.

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

    My new strategy: buy last year’s device on eBay. Then put CM on it. My new(old) S3 >>>> the Gnex I replaced it with.

    Next year around this time, I will . ve this summer’s hottest device, so long as it runs CM.

    Of course, if Verizon does kill my unlimited, i will be gone

    • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

      Oh, and the best part is that Verizon doesn’t make any money selling phones to me (I know profit margins are slim but still).

  • Altnine

    Okay so i have a question. This is all fantastic news, because i plan on getting a new phone in the near future. My parents both have unlimited data currently. I currently have a tiered plan of my own. If they were to add a new line, not just a feature phone, say the Moto X, would that new line also get the unlimited data?

    And if so, since their upgrades are coming up soon, they have the 4s now, possibly want to upgrade to the 5s this weekend, would option 2 of the above instructions work on my newly acquired unlimited line?

    • Tim242

      An added line gets the 2GB tiered plan. You can just put your SIM in the new phone, put a dumb phone on the extra line, only out $10/month.

      • Altnine

        Thank you. :)

  • Ian

    If you have an older family plan like my wife and I (2 smart lines on unlimited). You can add a new line (up to 5 lines total for our plan), purchase the smart phone on that new line and then transfer the new phone to one of our original smart lines and place a dumb phone on the new line. In our case I didn’t have a dumb phone handy so the VZ employee put a dummy test number on the line. At the end of the day I got the new device for $200 + $10/mo. for 24 months on the new line, so $440 for a $600 device ($240 of which is spread out). I keep my unlimited data and this doesnot extend my contract. (Yes, i now have a line on my account that is under contract for 2 years) If I want to leave I can ETF that new line and still come out under $600 for the device.

    And as a bonus we can use the new line as an emergency line if we lose a phone or something or even give it to a family member who could use a phone, maybe the family/friend would even pay you the $10 for access since it just pulls from our 700 mins shared and unlimited text.

    • Tim242

      ^^^Best Option^^^

    • Frank512

      I guess this only works if you already have a family plan? I have an individual plan and I can’t seem to find any way to add a line without switching to shared data plan.

  • 213ninja

    i can confirm that when using the second (online) method described in option 2 that there is no need to activate the new phone on your dummy line first. just slap your sim card in that summamabitch and you’re done. i have done this at least 5 times with zero issues over the past 2 or 3 years.

  • NIGHTSCOUT

    How come you skipped used phones? Craigslist? eBay? Swappa? All used LTE phones will work on unlimited data accounts. I do this all the time. Why pay $650 for a device, when you can get a barely used one on Swappa for $400

  • they call me Rob

    I currently have 3 devices – my GNex (contract ends 12/2013), wife’s iphone 4 (month to month) and a feature phone for my mother-in-law (month to month). I’d like to upgrade my GNex and the wife’s iphone but since there’s only one feature phone, that means only one of us can shift the upgrade, right? We both have individual UNLTD data plans, so one of us would need to lose it – if I understand this correctly? OR I can just upgrade one of ours and pay full retail for the other device (even over 12 months, non-EDGE).

    I’m leaning toward an HTC One, but I’m holding out for it to be unlockable and rooted. The Wife already told me she wants an Iphone 5S so we’ll have to decide which one gets the upgrade – but how do I get the SIM into the iphone?

    • they call me Rob

      or do I just go full retail on both and eat the cost. Ugh.what a PITA.

    • Tim242

      You will have to get a nano SIM for the iPhone. That, or get her a Moto X haha

  • LiterofCola

    Paid full retail, totally worth it.

  • Haqodeshim

    Having worked as a VZW CSR through AFNI and being a former SME (Subject Matter Expert – reworked bills and had to proficient in policy), I can tell you that GRANDFATHERED means they can’t take it away from you. I have an AT&T account personally, and when I went to upgrade my last smartphone the clerk behind the counter started to say, “Well we need to get you a new data plan!” And immediately I said, “I have the unlimited data plan, and it’s GRANDFATHERED and so you are changing nothing” and he got a “shocked” look on his face, but then proceeded to upgrade my phone and leave my GRANDFATHERED unlimited data plan in tact.

    Basically, technology wise is the only way any WSP could change your Grandfathered feature. VZW was full of little companies that they acquired and bought, and customer’s still had Grandfathered features going back to those little companies, and they COULD NOT CHANGE THEM, by policy and law.

    The on exception was the old analog car and bag phones – once everything went digital, the customers were forced to upgrade to digital phones, because analog service was being phased out by the US Government itself, who had ordered it done by such and such a date.

    Now if the US Government or the WSP comes up with some NEWER technology and frequency upon which to use your data access, then in theory they could FORCE you to upgrade, and lose your Grandfathered feature, and when I left 4G was coming into existence over there, and they might forbid you to get a new 4G phone with SIM card without changing the data plan from your previous 3G phone which didn’t have the new CDMA SIM card.

    However, over at AT&T they already had SIM for the GSM, and you really only need to upgrade for travel overseas to access GSM or CDMA frequencies, but domestically you are okay.

    Basically last I heard VZW was throttling towers to slow them down when traffic got to heavy, verses AT&T throttling USERS once they passed a certain GB threshold of data but consider how small AT&T’s real 4G network is, I use WIFI as much as possible as it is 52 times faster on a good day, especially here at home. So I’ve not been throttled yet, and even if that happens, well at the end of the month it resets.

    • Tim242

      AT&T lets you keep grandfathered unlimited when you upgrade. Verizon does not.

      • Haqodeshim

        Apparently, you can keep that unlimited data plan on VZW, and here is how:

        http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57564716-94/unlimited-verizon-data-customers-beware-make-sure-your-next-phone-is-4g/ – unless they changed the policy since this posting in January.

        • Tim242

          Not if you upgrade. That article is mostly about throttling. LTE isn’t throttled. The author was saying to avoid throttling, be sure to get a 4G device…but you have to get it subsidy free

        • Zach B.

          Tims right. Not if you upgrade. Second, that article is hilarious, as Verizon hasn’t sold a single 3G only smartphone since late 2011/early 2012, kinda making the whole point moot.

  • Tim242

    Option 5: Add a line, put SIM into new phone, put a non smartphone on the extra line. That way, you can remove the 2GB data plan from the new line. Then, you only pay $10/month.

  • ushneb

    Option 2 would work only if the line eligible for upgrade was the feature phone line. The new device would go to the unlimited line and the contract, the feature phone line. If, for example, we used the example of buying a new device on contract for the feature phone line, with the contract going to the unlimited line, the contract itself would eliminate the unlimited data because you can’t extend the contract on an unlimited line whilst keeping unlimited. At least that’s how it has been for a long time unless something have changed in the past year.

  • SoccerRef12

    This is really a great comprehensive list of options! Thanks!

  • SchnitzTech

    I was just able to get my Droid Maxx using EDGE (payment plan) without loosing my unlimited data (my lines contract just went month-to-month) because of a company discount. I guess some companies have an arrangement with VZW that lets employees keep the grandfathered unlimited data. Helps that I work on the campus of a certain major hardware/software company in the Redmond, WA area that has a lot of pull. Either that or the sales guy was just able to give me a major hook-up.

    • Tim242

      There’s a difference in edge, and payment plan. Maybe you are just on the payment plan…everybody keeps unlimited on that.

      • SchnitzTech

        Just verified. It is EDGE. Shows I’ve paid 5% of it off so far. Upgrade is available at 50%. Strangely enough my data plan is listed as “Unlimited Blackberry/EVDO” on my wife’s (iphone 5) and my (D-Maxx) lines. All I care about is that it’s unlimited and only costs $20 per month per line.

        • Tim242

          I hope for your sake that all goes well. But usually, you have to have an LTE data plan on LTE phones. Cross your fingers!

  • jmiranda3983

    I get my upgrade through my third party insurance and with my phones on the 3rd tier which is the highest I get any phone I want for the deductible price of 140. Insurance is called esecuretel. Did it to go from Galaxy nexus which believe it or not was a 3rd tier device to my note 2 and plan to do it again for my note 3. Brother went same route to get his droid 3 replaced by an s3.

  • Daniel Russell

    BTW, according to the jerk of a manager at my local store in LA, I was not allowed to do the second method in store. He told me flat out that you couldn’t do this option anymore without altering the data plan of the line with unlimited. He did tell me that you can do this online or by calling Verizon and having them upgrade which I successfully did giving me my new Droid Maxx. So you’ll probably have to check with the local store/if your store’s manager is a douche.

  • kashtrey

    Here’s a question somewhat related to Option 2: Can I have a friend who has an upgrade available to a non-smartphone line on a completely separate plan upgrade their phone to a smartphone, give them the money for it, and then have them go back down to a non-smartphone? So it’s not really a transfer per se, they are just upgrading their dumb phone line to a smartphone which I will purchase for/from them, and then immediately downgrading back to a dumb phone. My big concern is, will they be able to downgrade back to a completely dumb phone line.

    • Ian

      That should work. Only thing to make your friend aware of is if they want to cancel before their contract expires is that they will have to pay the smartphone ETF fee $350 minus $10 for each month paid, opposed to the dumbphone ETF which is like $170 minus $5 for each month.

      • kashtrey

        Awesome. Now just to wait out moto maker for Verizon.

  • IBT

    I just did this by way of upgrading another line on my account from the web. When the new phone arrives, simply power down YOUR phone, remove SIM, place in newly arrived phone and you’re done. You activate and assume the new phone, the phone you used to upgrade with reverts to its original state. Any data plan you chose will automatically fall off if its a dumbphone. Easy, no contacting of Verizon required.

    • mh0520

      Not waiting for the dev edition moto x or a 32G version? I’m tempted as well. How are you planning to deal with no SIM in the droid incredible? Going to go to the store and get one once you get your new phone?

      • mh0520

        Never mind. Some weird glitch on here is saying that that you’re not who you are…mn bad.

  • umbrellacorp

    So, what if I don’t have multiple lines on my account? It’s just me.

    • Tim242

      You’re screwed : ( full price, or payment plan for you!

  • JBartcaps

    What about financing plans offered by Best Buy and Amazon and other places. Pay off ful, retail over 18 months

    • Ian

      Plus financing fees

  • http://www.baldypal.com/ BaldyPal

    “Keep in mind that even if you transfer your upgrade to another line and then use the upgrade, you are extending your contract on the line which the upgrade originated”

    This concerns me. I was going to upgrade twice on one line within a 1 week period. 1) use my wifes feature phone upgrade and get me a MotoX. 2) transfer my upgrade to her line then try to upgrade again on her line and get her a Moto X. The above quote from the article makes me think i couldn’t do that. thoughts?

    • Tim242

      You can only upgrade a line once every 24 months. Upgrade = contract.

      • http://www.baldypal.com/ BaldyPal

        um. I’ll have to disagree with you on that. otherwise, why would they even have an option to transfer an upgrade at all. the point of the transfer is to upgrade any phone on your account at anytime. say my phone breaks but my wife has an upgrade and I’m still under contract. I can steal her upgrade and get a new phone at discount price rather than pay full price. I would have thought I was extending my contract but according to Kellex I’d be extending my wife’s contract.

        • Tim242

          That’s correct. It extends the line that is upgraded. I’m saying that you can only do that once every 24 months

          • http://www.baldypal.com/ BaldyPal

            so my plan won’t work according to you but will according to Kellex. who to listen to here? I don’t know.

          • Tim242

            You are misunderstanding what he’s saying. If you have 2 lines, with only one of them eligible for upgrade, you can only use that upgrade once. Once you use her upgrade to get your phone, her line is no longer eligible for an upgrade for 24 months.

          • Tim242

            You can’t transfer an upgrade, if both are eligible for upgrade.

          • http://www.baldypal.com/ BaldyPal

            I was only going to transfer an upgrade when only 1 had an upgrade. not when both. the whole 24 months can’t transfer upgrade is really killing my theory. a VZW chat rep even suggested I do this whole plan once the moto x comes out on moto maker on Verizon.

          • Tim242

            I’m still not sure that will work. If you upgrade her non unlimited line, then move it to your line, all will be good. But, to use your upgrade, transferred or not, you will lose unlimited.

          • http://www.baldypal.com/ BaldyPal

            just goes to show how much you can trust info from aVZW chat Rep I guess. good convo.

          • http://www.baldypal.com/ BaldyPal

            I figured out the best option. Buy a 3rd line. Yes it will cost me $9.99 (old plans) but with my wife’s employee discount on data, it’ll only cost about $5 more per month. And I still get to keep my unlimited. AND it still costs less than going to tiered (which really wasn’t an option to begin with for me IMO).

  • Detonation

    If you like to upgrade often Full Retail is the way to go. Keep your phone in good shape and you can sell it for $300-500 after 6-12 months, making the net cost of the next full retail purchase only a couple hundred dollars – not much more than the on contract price.

    • ben7337

      Except you’re paying that $200-$300 every 6-12 months, which is quite a lot of money, and if you kept it for 2 years the same as you could keep it on a contract then you’d be paying the $600 vs the $200. Also current phones are holding value longer. A used GS3 on verizon is still $250-$300

      • Detonation

        Right, but if you like to upgrade often (more than once every 2 years) it’s going to cost you more either way.

  • nickyb

    Anyone wanna buy 1 or all 4 unlimited data lines on verizon?

  • http://jonathangrubb.net/ Jonathan Grubb

    Has anyone tried/had success with using a mobile device with unlimited data as your home’s primary internet connection? Here’s why: I moved two lines from a gloriously large and feature-filled corporate account after I left that company. Long story short, only one line kept unlimited data (my wife’s; unlimited data for $20…yes $20 per month). Of the tens of thousands of gigabytes she could be using each month, she uses about half a gig per month. Our current home network is through AT&T’s notoriously-awful Uverse “service” (12/2MBps for around $56/month that normally clocks in around 9MB/.5MB). FiOS is NOT available in my area (or I’d jump on it). If I were to move my wife to a different line and tether from her current line, I’d double my maximum down speed, increase my up speed ten-fold, and save money. Thoughts?

    • Tim242

      I do it. I dropped Uverse internet a few months back. I have used 60 GB this month. I figured that since I have to double pay Verizon, might as well use it.

  • John Suh

    Avoid the store in College Park, MD at all costs!

    The manager played me for 30 minutes, trying to get me to buy every single accessory for the Droid Maxx, then proceded to tell me that an “alternate upgrade” was not possible. I told her, “yes it most definitely is”, and could not persuade her. After asking her to simply transfer my upgrade to a dumbphone line and leave my data plan alone, she finally consented to do so and only upgrade that line. I repeatedly asked her to avoid changing my unlimited data plan on my line and simply add a 2GB plan to the dumbphone line.

    After she hands the phone to me, I see that I no longer have unlimited data and have been switched to a 2GB plan on MY LINE! She essentially lied to my face the whole time. I got another manager to switch everything back to normal and that manager even goes as far as telling me I am “cheating the system” and says people like me should not keep unlimited.

    The kicker: after all that is finished and my unlimited data is restored and I am Droid Maxx-less, she then charges me a restocking fee of $35.

    I am done with VZW stores

    • Tim242

      Next time, upgrade the line, and just switch the SIM cards. You then log onto your account and put the dumb phone back on the line it was on.

  • dprk

    There is another option that I use. A lot of people use an available upgrade on their accounts to buy the latest phone, then sell them at full retail price for a profit on Craigslist. Buy it there after the phone is released and you should pay slightly less than the full retail price and NO TAX! Win!

    • Detonation

      So you’re selling the phone only to just buy it again? Why not just keep it and switch it to your line? That way you keep your warranty and don’t have to deal with craigslist. You can’t be saving that much to make it worth it.

      • dprk

        Sorry let me clarify. I don’t mean I’m using my upgrade. I’m just saying there is another option for people who want to get the latest phone without losing unlimited data. For example, I want a Verizon Note 3 when it comes out but I don’t want to lose unlimited data nor do I have an upgrade available. To get the phone, cheaper than the most expensive option above, which is to buy at full retail, I would buy from Craigslist to save some plus the not pay tax. :-)

  • hfoster52

    Another way if you have a Family plan, have an old flip phone, and have a new line open get a new smart phone and then swap it out for a flip phone. They will drop the data off the new line because it has a phone that cannot use data. Issue with this you are stuck with an extra line with no use but at a cheaper rate than moving into a share anything plan. (There is a rumor you can do this with a ghost IMEI number)

    I call this operation desperation.

  • Sixto Manuel Hernandez

    amazon wireless is letting me keep unlimited data.

    • Travis Keany

      Huh?

    • DJ ILLusive

      I keep reading the same thing and did a trial order on Amazon for an HTC One and verified the same thing, although I didn’t finalize the order. So you logged into your VZW account and does it say you still have unlimited data and your contract is now good til 2015? Let us know! Werd.