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How to: Upgrade Phones at Verizon and Keep Unlimited Data

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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.


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.


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.

  • angelycam

    I just tried to you the upgrade on my unlimited line and transfer to a feature phone and the store told me even though I am transferring my upgrade, I would still lose unlimited data because I am extending my contract by transferring my upgrade. I called Verizon to verify and they also said the same thing. They said the only way to keep unlimited is to not upgrade at all. WTf? I told them I walked through the step online to transfer my upgrade and it didn’t touch my unlimited data, but she said it would because it asks you what data package you want and that package would apply to you transfer line and unlimited line. So have they finally closed the loop hole or am I needing to try again? I don’t want to lose my unlimited data. HELP!!!

  • If you don’t have to have the latest greatest new phone, you can get a really great deal buying on eBay and then activate the phone with Verizon. I did it and it’s saved my 10 year old unlimited data plan and I’m now free as a month-to-month customer. I got what appeared to be a new Motorola Droid Bionic and a charging stand for $200 and then I had to get a new sim card for $20. My cell phone bill is the only bill that hasn’t gone up in the last 10 years, in fact it’s gone down since my company qualified me for a total of 22% discount.

  • RB

    I would appreciate any help with my situation:

    I’ve been on the same family plan with unlimited data for over 7 years.

    There are 4 lines on the family plan.
    Line 1: Iphone 4 w/ unlimited data (upgrade available)
    Line 2: Iphone 4 w/ unlimited data (upgrade available)
    Line 3: 1phone 4S w/ unlimited data
    Line 4: Samsung Intensity III w/ no unlimited data

    I want to upgrade Line 1 (Iphone 4) to the new Iphone 5S. Based on what I read, would I be able to transfer the upgrade from Line 1 to Line 4 (Samsung Intensity) and do option 3? How would I be able to do this if there are no sim cards in the iphones? I spoke with a VZW rep on the phone and she mentioned to go into a store and have them help me keep my unlimited data, which I am assuming she was hinting at option 2 by going into a store. So what exactly would I need to tell them in a VZW store to upgrade my iphone 4 to the new iphone 5S by transferring the upgrade to the Samsung phone on my family plan?

    Any help would be so appreciated! Thank you!

  • Senor

    My wife and I have two lines on our plan that is now month-to-month. One line with unlimited data and voice minutes and one line for a basic phone thats shares the voice minutes only.
    From reading all this, my take is we could upgrade the basic phone and move it over to the line with the unlimited data. This would give us unlimited data on a month-to-month basis for that phone alone. If we want to have a second smartphone we could buy an unlocked smartphone at the retail price, but we would have to pay for another data package since the original unlimited data plan is for only the one phone.
    That is the conundrum. The extra charges start adding up just to preserve unlimited data on only one of the two phones. Right now, if we just go with the tiered data plans we could get two smartphone upgrades. As much as I want to keep the unlimited data, I am not convinced that we would use the unlimited data on the one phone enough to justify buying an unlocked smartphone at retail prices and adding the second data package.
    Does anyone have any advice or thoughts? Thanks.

  • Dennis

    Sorry if this has been answered but does option 2 not work if you’re on a family plan? I have a family plan with one unlimited data line and one basic phone, no data – I went into best buy and was told that I could not do this because of the fact that it was a “family plan.” But the girl had a few other facts wrong and her mind was also blown by the fact that my phone was rooted so not sure I should trust what she had to say!

  • I went to Best Buy to do my upgrade. I took my mom’s dumb phone with me thinking I could tranfser the upgrade there, but Best Buy’s portal doesn’t do that.. Thankfully my dad’s line (another dumb phone) had an upgrade too. I upgraded that line. We called Verizon to put his old phone back on the line, then I took my SIM card from my RAZR and stuck it into my new HTC One.

  • UbiquitousTimmy

    I need unlimited text and data but I don’t have anyone else on my contract. So… I was with Vz for 8 years… had unlimited data, went to a store in Florida where the manager offered me a Note 2 for 199 (tag said 300+) also allowing me to KEEP my unlimited data contract … To get this deal I showed him I was interested in the Note 2… he looked up my Vz history…. and then I simply told him I was going to Straight Talk unless I could find a deal with Vz. … but even after this deal I was still dishing out $140 for unlimited text, data, and a high minutes calling plan ( including fees and taxes ) …. so I decided to switch to Straight Talk. Got a Nexus 4 (199 ) got the AT&T sim with unlimited (2 gig soft cap per month data ) … and have averaged 700 meg data (not even halfway into the max data soft cap) and … ok …. 2.3 GIG wifi per month…. yeah I stream a lot of music. But still I would never look back. The ONLY reason I would recommend anyone stay with VZ is if they can’t get service for Straight Talk where they live. But with Wifi everywhere… the only people needing high data plans are those on the road to NEW locations. Heck, even McDonalds has free wifi.
    — last two cents — IF you are a single guy / gal and don’t share your phone plan with another … ST is the best deal. IF you have more than two on your plan … then the unlimited data stuff with Vz like mentioned in this article makes better sense.

  • chris13417

    I’m not sure if anyone is still reading the comments to this article or not but I was wondering if I were to use method 2 (upgrade a dumbphone, activate new phone on dumb line, deactivate and switch to my unlimited line) will I be able to go in to a verizon store and ask for a new sim card and still be able to keep unlimited? I have a GNex with a micro sim card and don’t know if i want to risk cutting it with a nano sim cutter.

  • David N

    The Verizon wireless stores I went to have been of no help to me. My fathers line is eligible for an upgrade and he already has a tiered data plan. I wanted to use option number 2 as described above. The two store reps at two different stores and the one phone rep told me that if I upgraded his line, activated and then switched it to my line that it would be tagged as an “upgraded” phone and would cancel the unlimited data on any line it was attached to.
    Was I just lied to by 3 separate Verizon wireless employees? I’m afraid what they said may be true and spending the money and then losing the data seems like a scary proposition to me…
    Any suggestions?

  • Michelle

    I also got to keep my unlimited data. all i had to do was get a line for my son- which i was going to do anyway- and that qualified me for an upgrade (the main reason for all that). that allowed the rep to juggle everything around and keep my unlimited data. we got a basic phone for my son so all it cost was the $35 activation fee and now just $9.99/mo extra for the additional line.

    i didn’t even have to mention that i wanted to keep my unlimited data- she suggested it and i told her to go for it. i had already talked to a rep beforehand who explained the whole process, so i knew i was going to be able to keep it.

    the rep that i talked to beforehand was really cool, he even offered me the BOGO promo that had just ended the day before. it really does pay to get chummy with the reps. i would have gone back to him for the upgrade but i got the new Droid Ultra and it was only available at a Verizon Wireless store, and he was at an authorized dealer retail store and didn’t have the new phones yet.

  • JustinD2473

    I have a question….

    I have a 5 line family plan, all with smartphones, all with unlimitied data, ALL WITH AN UPGRADE AVAILABLE.

    I can’t add another line to my plan to transfer the upgrades, because 5 lines is the max.

    my question is, if I added a separate line to my account that was NOT part of the family plan, would I still be able to share the upgrades with that new line ??

  • rjw2

    I currently have a 1400 minute family plan with a company discount. The main line has a 4GB data plan and the 2nd line has unlimited data. The 4GB line is under contract until 6/2014 but the unlimited is month to month with an upgrade available. I would like to get a new phone for the 4GB line. Can I transfer the upgrade from the unlimited line to the 4GB line without losing the unlimited data or do I have to wait until the contract is up?

    Also, is it possible to change the unlimited data plan from the second line to the main line (switch phone numbers on the lines) without losing the unlimited data?

  • RussyJo

    However, I do hate that the unlimited data plan does not seem to allow wireless tethering without root. Dumb how verizon makes you upgrade to a tiered, limited data plan, just so you can use the features that DEMOLISH data.

  • RussyJo

    I have done option 2 about 4 times, in order to get a new phone every year. Me and my family have a deal, whomever lets me use their upgrade gets my current phone for free. Lets me keep unlimited data too.

    • Juan

      russyjo when you did the transfer of upgraded and you got the email confirmation did it showed the unlimited line phone number on the confirmation? i am just curios caused I transferred my upgrade and bought the phone with the dumphone line and wen’t trough the process smoothly but when I received verizon’s email confirmation it shows the Unlimited data line’s phone number there.

      • RussyJo

        I believe you have to activate the new phone on a different line and then LEAVE IT ON THAT LINE for 24 hours at least, THEN transfer it to you unlimited data line.

        Verizon thought about this so they added the 24 hour window to f*** people over.

        Dont remember the specifics of any email confirmations i received though.

        • Juan

          ohh ok thank you. Yeah well i ordered a phone online did the transfer to the dumbphone line and everything looked ok with the dumphone line number showing at checkout but when i received the confirmation email it said order status for line xxx-xxx-xxx which was the unlimited data one.

          • NoMoreNostalgia

            Did everything work out for you in keeping Unlimited?

  • troyboy162

    any word on option 1 working when your current phone is 3G? I dont have a 4G sim card yet

    • Michael Martin

      as far as I know, the change from 3g-4g wont work

  • Coop

    While looking to sell my Verizon unlimited data accounts I saw this Verizon unlimited data option on ebay. http://www.ebay.com/itm/How-To-Get-Unlimited-Data-On-Your-New-Existing-Verizon-Wireless-Plan-Bundle-/171081377878?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item27d53ea856 I don’t know what the details are other than what I read in the seller’s description. You have to pay the $1 to get the fine print. May be an option for some but by all means proceed with all due caution…if it sounds to good to be true…

  • Michael Valadez

    So, I’m on the fence about paying full fare for a Moto X. I’m coming from a GNex which has had its share of problems. For anyone else in my boat, the latest build of the Shiny ROM (AOSP 4.3 from 9/2) may have just bought me a few more months.

    Thanks to all the DL staff and commenters. You guys are always informative and helpful.

  • acontreras426

    There is another option. The Verizon Device Payment Program. This program allows you to purchase a phone at full retail and spread the cost over 12 months. You keep unlimited data by going this route and don’t have to be hit with spending $600 – $650 up front. The only catch is you have to go into a Verizon store to take advantage of the deal and the whole time they will be trying to push you off of your unlimited plan and get you onto Edge. http://yourguide.vzw.com/devices/device-payment-plan/

    • MasterEthan

      Looking at the prices, it’s cheaper to “Add A Line” with the new smartphone, then swap it with a feature phone and only pay $9.99 a month for 24 months. You pay around $100-$160 less then the full price.

      • acontreras426

        That’s true but I didn’t want to be tied into a contract (all 4 of my lines are contract free now). That’s why I went with the payment plan. It could be useful for people who are off contract and don’t feel like renewing for another 24 months.

    • cg

      I did the Device Payment Program, and it is garbage!

      1) There is no easy way to separate device payments from the other charges in your bill. You have to call Verizon and let them know you are putting “x” amount toward it.

      2) If you replace the phone you bought with Device Payment Plan with another phone (such as the last one you replaced) and you want to do a warranty replacement, you can’t do it without going to a Verizon Corporate Store (and it has to be Corporate; no Authorized or Premium Resellers.) I ended up selling my phone for around the cost of the balance just so that I can enjoy the “Alternate Upgrade” method (Option 2, second method) described in the article above. The guy who bought it is happy, I’m happy, and I keep my unlimited data plan on that line. Yay!!

      But I do not recommend the Device Payment Plan/Program. It is garbage, through and through.

  • VZW fraud investigator

    Social engineering… pass it on.

    • Adam Medina

      Not breaking rules. Just finding loopholes. SUCK IT VERIZON I USE 30GB PER MONTH SUCKERS.

  • Asianflavor

    Alright, here’s my situation:

    Main account – Unlimited Data
    Second account – Unlimited Data with an upgrade

    Can I add dumb phone as a 3rd line and then trade the upgrade from the 2nd phone to this new one when the Note 3 comes out?

    • A.J.

      If you’re going to do that, you might as well just buy a cheap phone off of ebay (if you don’t already have a dumb phone) and then open a new line with the Note 3 and then put the dumb phone on the new line and use the Note 3 on one of the other lines. That way you keep your 2 upgrades.

      • Asianflavor

        I only have the one upgrade… I do have several dumb phones that I can use. So basically I should be able to add the 3rd line with no effect on the two other data plans. My wife wouldn’t mine having a dumb phone for an emergency and she is happy with her phone so I’m not worried about losing an upgrade.

        • A.J.

          Yeah as long as you don’t have any other promos you should be fine. I would just wait until the Note 3 is out and then buy it by opening a third line and then put one of your dumb phones on that new line and put the Note 3 on your line.

          • Asianflavor

            Thanks, A.J. What do you mean promos? I do have a company discount but other than that, nothing else.

          • A.J.

            Well like I got in on the Talk & Text Plus Data promo where they take $20 off of my data plan and I have that on 3 lines. If I would have done what you want to do I would have lost that promo because it would change my voice plan as they have updated those since the last time I upgraded. So for me paying full retail was the cheapest way for me to go to get the G2.

          • Asianflavor

            Ah…gotcha. Then I have no promo on my account and should be good. I’ll talk to the warden (wife) about this and should be good. She’s more worried about losing the unlimited data than me. I rather just jumped to T-Mo. Thanks again!

          • A.J.

            Just make sure they put the Note 3 on the $30 2GB individual plan when you add the new line so it doesn’t mess with your other lines. When you put the dumb phone on that line the $30 a month data plan will automatically drop off so you’ll only pay $9.99 extra a month.

          • FargoJoe

            A.J. – When you say “put the dumb phone on that line” can you give me more info? Can I do this through the web site?

          • A.J.

            Yeah, once you get the phone you want on the new line from the store or if you order it online once you get the phone in hand you can go to your account online and click manage device and it will allow you to change devices. It’s pretty straight forward.

  • Jason King

    I have a single line and I’ve tried every possible way to get a new phone at reduced price but I’m going to have to pay full retail, which I’m technically OK with. I gobble up data up and down; just depends on how much I’m on the road. With more and more things to stream (music, movies, etc), everyone’s data usage is only going to increase. Someone said VW removed the FM radio from the LG G2 because they can’t monetize it; which makes sense for them. I’ve tried every way to pay less for a new phone but in the end, I’m forced to either 1) lose my unlimited data 2) up my current old plan so I can add a 2nd line 3) pay full retail. Both options 1 & 2 will increase my monthly costs anywhere from $30 to $100 a month which is ridiculous. So my best option is to suck it up and pay full retail up front. It may cost me more up front, but it will be cheaper for me in the long run vs. those other two options.

    • verizonchris

      Usually, the least expensive way to get a new device and keep unlimited data would be to add a line. The increase in monthly cost is greater when going from a single line plan to a family plan, but the increase is usually less than what you would have to pay if you lost unlimited. I can take a look at your account if you would like. You can PM me on rootzwiki under the same username.

      • Jason King

        Thanks, but I had already had my brother try this. My plan is so old, I would have to bump my plan up then add the $10 new line. This would still cost me more over the life the new contract vs. buying the phone outright. If I didn’t have to bump my plan up from $40 to $50, it would’ve be worth it and cheaper…but it won’t work. Thanks though. I went ahead and bought the G2 at full retail today at lunch.

        • verizonchris

          I’m curious what plan you are on. There are very few out there that adding a line wouldn’t be cheaper on.

          • Jason King

            I have an old $40 plan with like 400/450 anytime minutes, unlimited nights and weekends, and unlimited mobile 2 mobile. Back then, $50 plan was the lowest plan for adding additional lines.

  • A.Miller

    Isn’t another option to buy a phone off of Swappa/eBay/friend and activate it? Would that ruin unlimited data for me?

    • faganm24

      Yes, absolutely. This is the same as buying full retail as far as Verizon is concerned. It may be a little more risky, but saves a lot of money.

      • David

        You mean no – the question was will this ruin unlimited data. This will not, but the rest of your response is correct.

        • faganm24

          I edited my response to clarify. I was answering the first question.

    • David

      No. You would not be starting a new contract, therefore they will not touch your data plan.

    • verizonchris

      Bringing your own phone to verizon that you bought used would not ruin unlimited data for you.

  • GJV

    For those who only have one line with unlimited, is it possible to add a line w/ a smartphone, then immediately transfer the new phone to my existing unlimited line and turn off the $30/month data plan on the new line? Or does the two year contract on the new line require you to maintain data service for the duration? I saw this basic scenario discussed below but I’d be concerned you would be stuck with paying for data service on the new line for the entire length of the contract.

    • verizonchris

      If you put a basic phone on the extra line you would not have to pay for the data plan on that line. I am more than happy to take a look at your account if you want. PM me on rootzwiki under the same username.

  • David

    We have 2 phones with unlimited data, no third phone. We are both up for renewal. Can she use mine and I use hers and keep our unlimited? Something tells me that would be too easy.

    • faganm24

      You would lose unlimited. The trick of upgrading with someone else’s contract is that the line you are upgrading either is a feature phone that you can upgrade to a smartphone, then swap the phone to your line and reactivate the featurephone OR you already have a smartphone line with tiered data and you upgrade and then swap. Any line that you upgrade that currently has unlimited will lose unlimited.

      • David

        That explanation was helpful. Thank you!

    • verizonchris

      No, you can’t. Whichever line the phone ends up on as a part of the upgrade would lose unlimited. If you have two lines that both have unlimited, you would have to add a third line to keep unlimited. It would only be an extra $9.99 per month so it is well worth it in my opinion.

  • Ron Perlman’s Jaw

    How can this be done when you are using phones with varying size sim cards? Let’s say my current phone has a micro sim, and the phone I want to upgrade to has a nano sim. Or vice versa.

    • MasterEthan

      Good point! Galaxy Nexus and Moto X are different size SIMs right?

    • verizonchris

      SIM card size doesn’t matter. When switching devices in the system, the correct size sim would have to be used. This might mean buying an extra sim card depending on who you talk to. I for one wouldn’t charge any DL reader for a sim card should they decide to buy a phone from me. SIM cards can also be reused if they are processed in the system correctly.

      • MasterEthan

        So if I add a new line, and get my Moto X. After I add the basic phone on the new line can I reuse the sim in the Moto X on my existing unlimited line? Which btw is a Galaxy Nexus.

        • verizonchris

          Yes, you can reuse the SIM card as long as it is process correctly in the system. There is a way to mark a sim unusable when taking it off the line.

          • MasterEthan

            If I change the new line to the feature phone online does it process correctly so that I can reuse the sim from the new moto x? Also can I activate the Moto X SIM on my existing unlimited line online as well?

          • verizonchris

            I’m not 100% sure when running it through myverizon since I have never done it that way. I would think you should be fine. The easiest thing to do would be to just let me process the upgrade and switch everything around for you 😉 I have already helped a few DL readers upgrade and keep unlimited.

          • MasterEthan

            Alright. I’m not ready right now to do anything but maybe in a few months. Are you an Verizon Employee or a Third-Party Verizon Retailer employee? Also wanting to wait to see if they’ll open MotoMaker up to Verizon by the end of the year.

    • David

      There was a post here on Droid-Life on how to do that. Essentially thought, it is doable.

  • Brett Wcislo

    I’ll have to try it when I get a chance.

  • Brett Wcislo

    This is awesome.

  • Ryan Ropero

    Or . . .
    Keep sending your under warranty phone back.
    For reals. I had some legitimate issues with my gs3.
    Memory Card wouldn’t stay mounted. VZW sent me a replacement.
    Random Reboots. VZW sent me a replacement.
    Phone getting hot. VZW sent me a replacement.
    Randomly Vibrates for no reason. VZW upgraded me into the GS4.

    The other option.
    I had insurance. “lost” my phone and filed a claim. Paid my $100. Asked if they had other options besides the current phone. They did. Got a better phone, free case, free car charger.

    This may sound like a pain but its worth it to keep my 40g a month addiction.

    Download all the things!!!!

  • gmx

    I just have one request in regards to this article as a vzw employee please don’t go into the store and ask a rep to do this for you. We do not get paid on alternate upgrades therefore you are wasting our time helping you to game the system. Do this online yourself if it is that important to you. You can come in after to switch the phones around just don’t do the upgrade in store. Also check your usage on vzw.com before you get all I NEED MY UNLIMITED DATA!!! I see if everyday people say that and I look at their usage and they use like 200MB/Mo. Also if you use unlimited data you are prob a techie and should be able to figure this out yourself. If you couldn’t you prob don’t need unlimited data.

    • SUMmaro400ex

      How you get paid, is not of interest to the customers who are getting ripped off by Verizon… Whether you use 14MB a month or 14GB a month, at the end of the day, Verizon is now charging way more, for way less and that’s just wrong. Why should someone be satisfied with 2GB for $30 when they used to be allowed unlimited GB for the same price?

  • You Stupid Fackers

    The problem with everyone here is that no one is showing Verizon the right way to conduct business. If everyone would just leave Verizon for another carrier, they might get the message eventually. I’d be sure to tell them in person why you’re leaving. I’m going back to my old carrier in November because of this change in Verizons business practices.

    • SUMmaro400ex

      I left. Took 5 total lines from them and went to TMobile. I actually just got an email from Verizon asking “what can we do to win you back”. I made a list, a LONG list, and will be calling them later to tell them why they are losing out on $250 a month ($6,000 over the course of a two year contract).

      Problem is if I’m the only one, it means nothing to them…

  • Ray

    Old family plan

    Line 1: unlimited data upgrade available on: July 2014
    Line 2: dumb phone upgrade available on: Jan 2012
    Line 3: dumb phone upgrade available on: Jan 2012

    Basically I can use my line 2 or 3’s upgrade on an LG G2 and sign up for a 2gb/$30 month plan then return line 2 or 3 back to dumbphone.

    My question is should I activate the phone on Line 2 then transfer or just pop my old sim from line 1 in as I currently own a SGS3? And if I do just pop my sim in, do I have to go back online into my account and remove the data plan from line 2 and put the ESN of dumbphone back in or just leave it as is since a phone was never activated on line 2?

  • tonerrrr

    Just did option 4 with an old LG enV ha. Being that I used a code to get the LG G2 on a two year contract for $140 + $10 in store pickup fee, switched it to my line, then just switched in the old enV with a pay as you go data plan.

    $150 for the phone, $35 for activation of the line, $240 for 24 months on the contract is $425 total paid for the phone without losing my data. So ultimately I’m saving $175.

    Without that initial activation fee I would have saved more, so in two years if it’s even still possible to do this, it should be cheaper for me. Also, I was already on a family plan.

    • A.J.

      I thought about doing something like this however I have the Talk, Text, and Data $20 per month promo on 3 of my lines ($60 a month I’m not paying) and if I would have put a new line on the account I would have needed to change my voice plan because apparently those went up as well so I would have lost that promo. So I would have paid $425 plus have to pay $20 more a month for my unlimited data. So for me paying full retail up front was the best way to go. Just on one line I save $480 over 2 years because I only pay $10 a month for unlimited data.

      • Kyle DeVaney

        Exactly the same thing here. Cant give up that free $40/ month for two lines of unlimited data.

  • Could this work if you have a relative with a separate account due for an upgrade but they want to keep their feature phone?
    My in-laws don’t want a smartphone and have never upgraded their phone (they use my old feature phone). So could I get a new phone on their line then move it to my account?
    Thinking about it maybe I should just add them to my account and cover the extra $10 a month so I can get a new phone more often.

  • RealisticConsumer

    If you use 100 gallons of gas a month, you pay for 100 gallons of gas. If you use 10 gallons of gas, you pay for 10 gallons of gas. Data is no different. Why should somebody who uses 1GB of data monthly subsidize those that use/abuse 50GB of data monthly ???

    • arthuruscg

      Because that is not now the TCP/IP system works.
      Honestly the way to do it would be to offer minimum data connection speeds( assuming good coverage) BUT allow us to hold carrier responsible for properly building the network.
      There is a great Youtube video

      Verizon artificially created the tiered data plans.

    • arthuruscg

      Here is a more accurate example. If you drive during rush hour, but I only drive between the hours of 8pm and 4 am. Why am I paying taxes to subsidizing road construction to increase capasity when you need it, when the road surplus capacity when I use it.
      So, if use data when the network has it’s lowest load, I should pay less then someone trying to use data during peak times.

  • Michael Martin

    Ok few questions/scenarios.

    I am on my own independent unlimited line. I had actually taken the buying outright route by buying a phone off ebay (got my gnex brand new for 400 shipped the december a few months from its release). My mother and grandmother are on their own account with my mother being unlimited as well with her droid 4 and my grandmother with a dumb phone.

    1st. If I had my grandmother upgrade her line since its available, get the phone, then return her line to her old dumb phone, could I then use the phone on my line or would my mom be the only one available?

    Also, verizon doesnt attempt to charge you the rest of the phones value if you use a upgrade to get the discounted price only to remove the phone from your line and put it on another?

  • Colby Edwards

    Question about second part of method 2 (or really upgrade transfers in general). If I transfer my upgrade to another line and use it would it affect their upgrade cycle at all?

  • chocolate8175

    Are they still offering the option to pay for your phone over the course of a year, monthly?

    • Tim242


  • Vu

    I’ve tried using my moms upgrade as she doesn’t have a smart phone. That’s how I grabbed the note 2. Verizon still try to make me lose unlimited data. But I kept calling around and a verizon rep was nice enough to give it back to me. But said next time I try to transfer an upgrade, I WILL lose unlimited data.

    • Tim242

      All you have to do is upgrade her line, put your SIM in the new phone, then reactivate her phone on her line. You don’t even need Verizon to do anything but the upgrade. You do the rest.

      • I have three lines, one is mine (unlimited) and my mother and grand mother) thats how we do it. then they get my usually 8-12 month old phone and i get the new hotness. ha

  • googlyeyedfrog

    Thank you for writing this well-written and concise article Kellen

  • btbk2010

    As a Verizon store manager I have 3 things to say. Yes, if you already have a second line that has either has 2gb of data or no data, the 2nd option is a no brainer (provided your sales rep has a brain of course). 2nd- Beware that if your sales rep does this, there may be a buy-back associated stuck to the store (Verizon screws us over too, if you are in-direct like I am of course). Third, Option 3 is NOT an option. I would keep every single one of my customers on Unlimited if I could, but I can’t. Hell, even if you bring the phone back within 14 days I have to fight Verizon to give you back Unlimited Data.

    3.5th thing to say. Droid Life, you should have ran this article a while ago, this is nothing new. My store has been doing these work around options since December…

  • Bradley Michael

    So I have a family plan with my dad that shares minutes, and I have unlimited data and he has tiered data. He wants to switch to T-Mobile or Sprint to cut costs. Is there any way to turn my family minutes plan into an individual account and keep unlimited data?

    • Tim242

      Unmm, switching from a family plan to individual plans will increase cost. Tell him no haha. But, once his line drops ooff, you can change the base plan without changing the data plan.

  • James Hill

    If you order the phone through the VZW website the phone will be sent to you in a non activated state. You can then proceed to place your sim card (if your current sim fits in the new phone, otherwise cut it) in the new phone. This works; since you already ran the upgrade through the non smartphone line the system will not automatically do a switch-a-roo on you. I’ve done this before and plan on doing it again.

  • Tim

    Just when I think I have got it….
    My Wife and I are both eligible for upgrade.
    I have unlimited…she has 4gb.
    Can I use her line to upgrade my phone to a Moto X and keep unlimited.
    Then take my upgrade that I had and use it to upgrade her phone to the Droid Maxx…and she then loses her 4gb of data and now only has 2gb of data?

    • Tim242

      No. If you upgrade your line, you lose it. You can only use one of the upgrades.

    • Dr. Idiot

      I think that this will actually work. well, i certainly hope it will, because i’m about to try almost the exact same thing.

      I talked to two VZW CSRs. one said no effing way, but he was also definitely factually wrong about some other things i tested him on. the other was surprised at the question and had to think about it, but eventually he said he couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t work.

      my plan is: use my wife’s current upgrade to get her a galaxy s4 this week. wait til next month (next bill) and transfer MY upgrade to HER line. using HER line (4gb/mo) with her new upgrade (my transferred upgrade), order a galaxy note 3. once the note 3 arrives, activate it on her line, thus deactivating the s4. then reactivate the note 3 with my sim on my unlimited line. then reactivate her s4 on her 4GB line.

      honestly… why wouldn’t this work?

      the CSR who shut me down said that if i transfer my upgrade to any line at all, i will automatically lose unlimited, period…. which we all know is false. rather than argue with him, i just decided to disregard that and try again with a different person. the second person followed my logic and basically said “i dunno, it seems like it’s worth a shot”


      probably gonna try it regardless, heh.

  • Gordon

    I used my upgrade to get the LG G2 for $200 while keeping my unlimited data and what I did doesn’t seem to have been mentioned so far…this is what I did:

    I went to the Diamond Premium Verizon Retailer at AMC 16 Santa Anita and told the manager that I wanted to keep my unlimited data and use my upgrade. He told me that they had a special promotion where he adds a ghost line for $7/month, and me, and both my parents will all be able to upgrade our phones and all keep our unlimited datas. I am not entirely sure how this works, but I just got it done.

  • MetroGnome711

    So I had a crazy experience after reading this post today. My wife purchased the HTC One from Best Buy yesterday at full price to keep unlimited (the Blue so we can have the same phone and know which is which). However, last night we noticed the camera had some issues and decided we needed to return it this evening. During the day i read this post and thought why the heck not? So driving home i called customer service. The woman on the other end basically said: “if you go to Bestbuy, exchange the non-working phone and just buy it again at upgrade price, it will kill your unlimited data… but i will call you back at (given time) and re-add it for you.

    This sounded nuts and certainly couldn’t work. But the upgrade price of the phone is $49 vs. $700 at full retail, so we took a gamble.

    We returned non-functioned Blue One, and re-purchased through upgrade process. We signed away her unlimited plan. At the given time, no phone call was received. Sweating bullets as i’m not sure who the wife is going to blame, me or verizon.

    An hour after given time, the phone rings and the Verizon operator on the other end quickly and easily removed the 2GB plan, and re-added the 29.99 unlimited option.

    I’m still in shock that this worked, and certainly know that we took a HUGE risk moving forward this way, but suggesting the options listed above over the phone didn’t seem to work and she said this was the only way. Needless to say, super relieved that things worked out but please: TREAD CAREFULLY.

  • Macloven

    I bought a phone from vzw certified pre-owned which doesn’t renew your contract. You just have to check often as inventory varies. Cheaper than new,full warranty and no hassle.

  • nmac9

    I just dealt with all of this a few days ago… Due to some bizarre circumstances, I (18yo at the time) became the account owner of a plan with 1 unltd. line, 1 2GB line, and a 9.99 feature line. Both my unltd. and the feature had been renewed 2+ years ago on a BOGO phone deal and both ran up in April. I went in to get the G2 last week, and upon saying I wanted to upgrade, I was turned away saying I needed the account owner and administrator access to the account (due to not looking the part as a college soph.), which my line has.

    I finally got through to this lady that I was permitted to make changes, after checking my ID, providing the last 4 of the social on the line, and the account password. I said that I wanted to renew the feature phone, get the G2, and activate it on my line. I was sternly shot down and turned away being told “things no longer work like that” and that they “can revoke your unlimited data if they find you did that”.

    Realizing that this woman clearly hated making commission and that she wasn’t interested in helping me, I left disappointed and called customer service. I was told that it wasn’t an issue what-so-ever, to add the data package as I renewed the contract, then to call in when I had the device to have the ESN activated to my line. F*** that VZW rep for trying to sell me into the VZW Edge program for an additional $25/mo with limited data.

  • schlanz

    If this hasn’t been posted before, then it is long overdue. I’m kind of surprised this isn’t common knowledge at this point for DL readership. Still, it’s a good refresher for anyone with an upgrade coming up.

    I feel bad for all the sad bastards I’ve kicked off unlimited data when they could have kept it with one of these methods. This stuff is tracked in the stores so if you want a sales rep to process everything for you they may advise you to do it online.

  • ckdk44

    To be honest, I almost pulled the trigger today on a Maxx, just because battery was impressive and looking at all droid/moto x devices side by side. It was tempting. But the price tag is where it will hurt. I do say that these devices and any new ones out now are really pretty. But I have an unlimited data plan to look after, its my baby, cant go out and splurge willy-nilly! So I said to myself, ‘ if you are going to spend $500 + on a device you better be able to customize it. So i looked at the Moto X and said, ‘man your pretty just add my fav team colors on you and your perfect’. So got off that train wreck, my advice is if you have unlimited data and buying a new phone outright is the only way make sure its a phone you will LOVE…….for a couple of years at least =D

  • Brandon

    I guess I’ll be giving option 2 a shot once the Note 3 drops. Cheers for the information.