AT&T changes iPhone 5 upgrade eligibility policy

by Justin Horn on Sep 13th, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

A little over 3 years ago I wrote an article describing how your AT&T upgrade eligibility date was formulated. Your date for full upgrade could range from as little as 12 months out of your 24 month contract or as many as 20. They also sometimes offered early  upgrades giving you a $200 discount instead of the full $400 discount.

This has been consistent till I went to check my upgrade for the iPhone 5. First I noticed that my main line billing over $100 a month which used to be upgrade eligible every 12 months was now 19 months (May 2013).  This is the same date as the second line billing only $40 a month. Second I noticed that the price for the early upgrade has changed. Instead of getting a $200 discount, they are now only giving $150 discount.

UPDATE Fun fact: Based on that early upgrade discount of only $150 off, it would actually be cheaper to pay the $225 early termination fee and then get a new contract the full discount price. $299 + $250 early upgrade fee vs $299 + $225 early termination fee. Way to go AT&T!

UPDATE 2 From what I’m reading, Verizon doesn’t offer upgrades until your full 24 months is up and no early upgrade discounts. So I guess AT&T isn’t as bad as I thought. $150 is better than nothing.

Apparently they are moving all phones, regardless of price to 19 month upgrade policy.

Here’s a portion of my ATT chat:

Justin Horn: But that’s besides the point, can you tell me why I’m not eligible before 5/15/2013? My account has always been eligible after 12 months, not 19. So my date should be 10/15/2012, not 5/15/2013.
Linda Ramirez: I apologize. Upgrades are now done every 19 months.
Justin Horn: Since when?
Linda Ramirez: Since 6/25/12.


How times have changed.  Here’s my article on how the iPhone 3GS upgrades went:

At&t just posted “an update for our customers”which explains the upgrade process for iPhone 3G oweners and the new policy:

We’re now pleased to offer our iPhone 3G customers who are upgrade eligible in July, August or September 2009 our best upgrade pricing, beginning Thursday, June 18.

So just a few years ago AT&T was moving up the full upgrade eligibility date by as much as 3 months. Even for the iPhone 4 they bumped it up a bit.

Now back to present day and they move my upgrade back by 7 months! I understand for a lot of people (with non family plans), this doesn’t matter as you never billed enough to make it to a 12 month upgrade. So at worst you are being moved back from 17 to 19 months, but I would hope the extra $50 for the early upgrades would piss you off. I mean they are already raised the bull shit “activation” fee to $36 bucks, which was bull shit when it was like $24.

One day I will finally make the move to Verizon because AT&T’s list of things that piss me off just keeps getting longer.

Here’s a few highlights:
AT&T and FaceTime
AT&T changes data plans again: more GB, more money
Will iMessage really affect AT&T’s SMS cash cow?

Follow me on Twitter @justin_horn

View 3 Comments
at&t, iPhone, iPhone 5


  1. [...] UPDATE This is no longer true. AT&T made some significant changes to their policy in June of 2012. Read More: AT&T changes iPhone 5 upgrade eligibility policy [...]

  2. 2.
  3. zo
    September 17th, 2012 6:33 pm

    Same frustrations here. I got the 4S when it came out. I ordered the 5 with an early upgrade price but now realize that it is cheaper to pay the ETF and sign on as a new customer with Verizon. Now that ATT is not allowing features like facetime over cellular, i am getting tired of them. I’ve always had ATT because of GSM but now that Verizon’s iphone is more GSM and world friendly, that differenciator is moot.

  4. 3.
  5. Preston Horn
    September 19th, 2012 12:26 am

    I’ve had the same experiences you’re describing. See my precious post about the iPhone Upgrade Vortex. ( However, with a little convincing, the Retention department of AT&T will hook you up with either an early upgrade or a “secret” promo plan for an additional line. Just tell them you want to cancel service. Don’t bother with normal CSR.

    P.S. Nice name. Are we related?

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.