Verizon contracts

First it was lengthening the early upgrade benefit, and now Verizon's apparently doing away with 1-year contracts altogether starting April 17. We'll let that sink in for a minute.

Here's the deal: Most of the time normal consumers (that's not likely to be many of you out there, right?) purchase a smartphone, they do it on contract. That's 24 months in which you're legally obligated to pay Verizon the monthly penance, and in exchange Verizon subsidizes the cost of the phone, getting it down to $300, $200, or maybe even less -- all the way down to free.

But what's not often talked about is the one-year contract. You pay a little more up front for the hardware, but you're only indebted to the carrier for 12 months. And, really, it's the way to go.

But Verizon apparently is about to do away with that. So you'll either have to pay $500 or $600 for a top-end smartphone, or get ready to sign away two years of your contract life. Up to you. Thanks, W!

 

Reader comments

Verizon nixing one-year contract option beginning April 17

83 Comments

This is crap. I can't afford to buy a new phone outright every year, but I'm fine with a one year contract and paying a little more up front (versus the more common 2 year contract). First AT&T hikes prices for one year contracts and now Verizon is getting rid of them... And I'm supposed to believe that AT&T buying T-Mo so we have less competition is somehow going to benefit consumers?

Android has become the tool for carriers to force us into their pockets...just as we put our lovely little phones into our own pockets. Either get a slightly older phone for free and pay less for the subsidy through the two years (and wait that WHOLE time before you get another phone - unless you wanna pay full price or run to ebay/craigslist), or pay full price with no contract. These are the only fair options left, and you can probably expect them to disappear sometime soon as well.

BTW the carriers will simply blame the "fierce competition and consumer demand" for these kinds of policy changes, so that they can make sure they get profits. If you think they aren't ALREADY making profits off of us, and believe their ploys, then you might want to put your head back in the sand and stop worrying about any of this.

My personal strategy to save costs, keep my budget down and triumph over the system is that I have sold my old Droid 2's on craigslist, taking about a $50 hit. I used the money to buy out my dad's VZW feature-phone line, then transfered my dad to my old line, still using his same feature phone with my old number. I did the same for my gf's Droid 2 but gave her line away to a friend who has a VZW feature phone with no contract. They took the deal because we had an unlimited mobile to any mobile text promo. My gf got a refurb Samsung Focus WP7 for free (which is an ok phone for someone who likes simple phones with email and great calendar), and I went back to my iPhone 3GS. Only thing is that I jailbroke it, again, and this time unlocked it so I could use it on T-Mo without contract and data plan. I suppose they could always impose a data plan on me, but they don't seem to care since I bought the SIM card by itself on their website. The cool thing is being in the NW near big cities allows me to get plenty of wifi everywhere I go, so there is really no reason to pay $30 a month for unlimited data. My gf pays $15 a month for att's lowest data plan, but never goes over because she keeps her 3G radio off except for when she really needs it.

If you want any info on how to do this sort of thing yourself, feel free to send me a message using this site's contact form. Ciao!

So I've been holding off on renewing my contract for several months now waiting to see what was coming out. I'm not super-excited by the Thunderbolt but I think my plan as things stand now is this:
Take advantage one last time of the one year contract and grab
myself a Thunderbolt. By the time this contract is up, Android
tablets should have matured and I will simply buy a wifi tablet
(unless in a year's time some carrier is offering an amazing deal
on a tablet w/ a data plan) and go back to a feature phone.
Honestly, for most of what I do on my phone, I'd prefer the tablet size and I usually have wifi available. I'll be happy to give Verizon less of my money every month.

Im right there with ya gonna go by verizon today and make sure this is real and if it is guess ill grab a thunderbolt keep if for a year and if things stay this way it was a nice run verizon. But just my luck though by then ATT will have tmoble and Verizon will grab up sprint so the choices will non existant.

Well after talking with verizon and finding out this was true i am now a proud owner of a 1 year contract on a thunderbolt. I almost bet this has something to do with apple, the new every two was because of the iPhone but oh well lets go root this thing and see what it can do.

If you can't afford a new phone every year, don't buy one. Simple. I bought an Epic used from Ebay and am very happy with it. $300 for the phone and I'm not stuck with Sprint for 2 more years... I might stay with them, I might not... But I have the freedom to choose.

Or, if you can't afford it, don't get it.

Right on!

What a bunch of whiners. "I can't afford a new phone every year."

SO DON'T BUY ONE EVERY YEAR! IN FACT DON'T BUY THE NEWEST MODEL AT ALL, BUY LAST YEARS MODEL WHEN THE NEW ONES COME OUT ---- LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS!!!!!!!! Life will be much better for you if you do.

In other words, become an adult.

Actually, I'm still using my OG Droid...I've been eligible to update for awhile, but I've been holding off. My problem is with Verizon and AT&T abusing their market power and taking away options from consumers. It's not about buying a shiny new toy every year, it's about having a choice between $600 or signing a 2 year contract.
What part of my using a phone that's a year and a half old and talking about going back to a feature phone suggests that I live outside my means?

You were the one that said that you can't afford to buy a new phone every year. Then, when told not to buy a new one every year, you come back saying that you actually don't get a new phone every year. OK. Then what are you whining about?

A) I said I can't afford an off contract phone every year...I also said I was happy to pay more for a phone than the 2 year subsidized price...because I can afford to and would rather pay more up front than take the cheaper price and be locked in for 2 years.

B)I got the Droid a little after the initial launch and so my contract ended a few months back so I waited to see what was coming. No, I don't run right out and renew my contract the day it's up if there's a phone I'd rather get that's a few months away.

C)I said what I was complaining about...the two main carriers with the lion's share of the market (and the only options where I live) abusing their power and taking options away from consumers.

"Abusing their market power?"

Oh, grow up.

"and taking away options from consumers"

If they can give options, it stands to reason that they can also take them away, again, grow up. You are not entitled to their products. You have options and choices, use them.

You have more than the two choices you stated: "$600 or signing a 2 year contract."

Here are a few:

1. You can keep the phone you have.
2. You can buy an older model.
3. You can go to a different carrier. (then repeat 1&2)
4. You can start your own cell phone company and give the phones away FREE.
5. You can start your own wireless company and offer minute by minute service plans with no contracts at whatever price people want to pay.

Fantastic, rational argument in favor of the cell phone companies... They should double your pay because clearly you're a master of logic.

Those bastards, they just keep dropping and changing all the reasons I'm on Verizon. What next VZW? I'm looking long and hard at my options next year!

Figures. I just went with a one-year contract and was hoping to keep renewing yearly from here on. I'm the last guy to ask government to do anything, but isn't this a tad on the anti-competitive side? How about someone in Congress look at this rather than focusing on whatever wheel-spinning they're up to this week?

Actually, this week they're trying to make sure the non-essential government services are still running next week: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12994270.

There are text versions around too, and the link is from BBC because I'm scared of what the American news agencies are saying about it - probably something along the lines of, "OH GOD WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE" (and yes, I'm American).

Anti-competitive?! Is Verizon the ONLY carrier where you live?

Want to send a message to Verizon? Don't upgrade - keep what you've got now. If the phone breaks, buy a used phone to replace it.

Here's an idea, BUDGET your money to buy a phone (new or used) every THREE or FOUR years.

If you really WANT the latest and greatest, BUDGET for it. You have CHOICES in life, learn to make good ones.

Good god, this entitlement society thing is really getting old - and destroying our country.

Actually, corporate America has been subtly training us to buy everything on credit. It used to be just cars and houses. Now it's everything. They use it as a way to spurn growth by making it seem like people have more purchasing power than they actually do. Unfortunately, it eventually comes crashing down, as it did in 2008. People need to cut up their plastic, and the contract requirements on cell phones are a form of consumer debt, even if they are cleverly never described as such.

Margins keep narrowing. First they change their phone pricing to their financial advantage, get court ordered to pay 93 million dollars, then nix the 1 year contract. I've had Verizon since 1997 (before they were even Verizon). Now, I don't know if I'll renew. I prefer having options.

C'mon vzw. Next thing that's probably gonna go up is etf fees watch. Im already eligible for an upgrade and was awaiting the bionic but I might just jump ship. Idk

That's funny Im also with Pepsico (Frito Lay) and get the same discount. Some how I think Verizon will lump us in with everyone else. They seem determined to push the 2 year contractand get people locked in. I wouldn't be surprised to see a price increase to match ATT on full priced phones come down the pike soon. With the release of of the Nexuse S and the Google Voice integration Sprint is starting to look more attractive all the time. They also have a discount for Pepsico discount but its 18% instead of 24% but their rates are cheaper so it could be awash.

Oh well. Damned if you do and damned if you don't. All the carriers got a trick up their sleeves with something. Better stick with what you know.

I get it, its nice to have the choice however as devices are becoming more expensive, small computers, u have to ask self, if the subsidy of devices are increasing, a $650 or $750 iPhone, $600 Droid, 1 yr is not long enough to make up for it. Greed? No, prices on plans are dropping, and prices of devices are increasing. What did u think is going to happen? You don't expect to buy a new computer every year without paying for it. Let's be honest, a customer who is buying a basic phone is not upgrading their phone every year, its the smartphone user. Though I empathize with consumers, how else from a business standpoint would u recommend compensating for the decrease in plans and increase in device subsidies??? Verizon Wireless isn't increasing prices of full retail priced devices, ATT is, now that's greed!!!
The fact is if you like smartphones there is no carrier that offers anything close to our 4G network, nor the reliability of our network.

"No, prices on plans are dropping"

That's not what I see. I see the prices going up. And with reduced competition, they'll only keep going up.

In the last 20 years my plans have gone down, the services have gone up and the phones have become amazing.

My first cell phone was $900+, the plan had VERY limited service areas, the minutes were EXPENSIVE and ALL I COULD DO WAS TALK.

NOW, I have a device that is more powerful, faster, has a COLOR screen resolution better than my 1st computer and can do MORE than my first computer ever dreamed of!!!

AND there is 5 TIMES MORE competition!!!!!!!!

While I love my Droid X, and have loved VZW for 10+ years they have been daring me to try someone else...Oh my is that an EVO 3D I see...

It's the way it is. This isn't going to be challenged. If anything, we will start to see more Canadian style contracts, aka, 3 years. Followed their healthcare, didn't we?

The day after a prepaid option comes along that I get good coverage to make calls not just use data, with at least a mid lvl smartphone I'm done with ALL the major carriers and their onerous contracts with price fixing. The new BOOST phone from Samsung wouldn't be bad. Except BOOST doesn't have coverage in my area. The benefits are just getting less and less to stay with the big boys.

I was just doing some research on Boost Mobile the other day and if I can convince my wife to make the change when our Verizon contract is up I'm all in. Since you can use any Sprint phone I'll have no problem buying one either full price or on eBay. Saving $80 a month makes it a no brainier in my book. If she won't go for Boost I'd want Sprint since I'm really fed up with Verizon's nickel and diming.

wow. I never thought perhaps I'd actually think about potentially canceling my verizon wireless account maybe.

i'll never go back to 2-year contracts. *gallant fist pump* NEVER!

DAMN YOU VERIZON. LOOK WHAT YOU'RE MAKING ME DO

I'm on T-Mobile without a contract for the last year and a half. I'd never sign any contract. It's not worth it. Even if the money were a wash, they use the contracts to close off your options and keep you a slave. Rise up and cast aside your shackles.

I don't care. Verizon has the best service, albeit expensive service, so as nice as it is to have options I seriously doubt I'd switch anyway. Especially since I'd be stuck with that decision for a year or more. I will say that the recent company focused changes have made me a little bitter, but that's just because I hate paying huge bills.

I agree. I go with the carrier that gives me the best coverage/service.

What good is having cheap service and or a cheap phone if it doesn't do what you need it to do?

I use my phones for work 80% of the time and personal 20% of the time. But I want them to work 100% of the time!

I suspect most people on these blogs are just tech junkies looking for their next "high." No one is FORCING them to buy these phones and plans, If they can't afford them, they should buy something cheaper and learn to live live with the ridicule of their friends, it will build character.

I willing to put money down that this also the same date for the up coming Droid Charge. Looks Verizon doesn't want any one getting out of a new 4G contract any time soon. Probably also the first step towards tiered data as well.

The most profitable part of the contract is AFTER it has expired.

If they pay off the handset maker in the first year, I wager the second year is all gravy (profit). They also probably want to slow down hanset churn, with some people getting a new phone every year. They would rather keep them paying monthly for that already paid off phone.

I've never heard about any way to get your plan reduced after your phone is paid off, other than by dropping the plan and starting on a no-commitment plan.

The greed is just amazing.

I get it, its nice to have the choice however as devices are becoming more expensive, small computers, u have to ask self, if the subsidy of devices are increasing, a $650 or $750 iPhone, $600 Droid, 1 yr is not long enough to make up for it. Greed? No, prices on plans are dropping, and prices of devices are increasing. What did u think is going to happen? You don't expect to buy a new computer every year without paying for it. Let's be honest, a customer who is buying a basic phone is not upgrading their phone every year, its the smartphone user. Though I empathize with consumers, how else from a business standpoint would u recommend compensating for the decrease in plans and increase in device subsidies??? Verizon Wireless isn't increasing prices of full retail priced devices, ATT is

Actually, you are incorrect. The subsidy is less on 1-year contracts, so it's a wash. People just want more flexibility. It's in Verizon's best interest to deny you that flexibility. Thus, they are eliminating the 1-year contracts to close off your options for a longer period of time.

I had an off-contract Blackberry Curve on T-Mobile that was working fine but I wanted a real smart phone. I couldn't justify paying for the phone outright, so I went another route. I sold a bunch of stuff on eBay that I had no use for, including my old Blackberry Curve (I got $50 for it). After I got to around $300 sold, I bought a used MyTouch 4G for $320, rooted it and installed CM7, and am now in Android heaven. Ironically, I kept selling things and ended up raising $1200 in total.

When you have to sacrifice and scrimp and save and scramble to raise money for a device, it's that much more satisfying.

Its gonna just keep going untill they plateau with markups and such till they lose customers and feel it. Then they will change it again to make themselves look more attractive so people start buying again, and so on.

Things like this is how they see how loyal their customer really is. Notice they didnt send out a questionaire? It's almost like they are saying, "Listen, we are gonna axe the 1 year option, raise the etf, and blah blah blah and you arent going anywhere. We know enough of you will NOT abandon ship for us to care. Have a nice day."

I bet also, that enough people pay full retail for them to come up with things like this. Plus, people being locked in for 2 years sounds to me like they can make even better deals for new customers to get locked into the same spot.

Very smart Verizon, Shitty way to treat your already loyal fan base, but very smart.......

FCC RULING YESTERDAY IS A STEP BACKWARDS TO PROVIDING BETTER COVERAGE AND MBB SOLUTIONS. WHAT'S THE INCENTIVE TO EXPANDING A NETWORK IF U HAVE TO RENT UR COMPETITIVE EDGE TO YOUR COMPETITORS? THE TRUTH IS LIKE IT OR NOT IT'S THE LARGER CARRIERS THAT ARE DRIVING BETTER PRODUCTS AND FASTER SERVICE. FCC RULING JUST TOOK US BACKWARDS.

Stop spamming, and turn off the caps lock while you are at it.

The ruling was correct as it will lead to more competition and make conglomeration less attractive to carriers.

You know I am not all for the FCC to be coming in and telling people what to do but with the NE2 and now 1yr gone, ATT buying TMO, I am happy that today the FCC ruled Carriers must enable data roaming at a rate set by the FCC.

I am also hoping that the FCC will ENFORCE a policy on the carriers that will make ETF rate decrease at a fair rate not the crap that they have now. If ETF is $350 for a 24 month contact then it should be around for every month of service the ETF lowers by $15 so in tweleve month the ETF would be $180. I for one this what VZW is doing is horrible and I think we all need to contact the FCC and express our concerns to see if they could impose such a policy.

If that fell under the FCC jurisdiction, ETFs would have been eradicated years ago. The FCC isn't "all powerful".

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong but didn't VZW just announce that they will no longer honor the additional money to your phone on the 2 year contacts as well? I mean if you are signed up with a 2yr agreement & after a 1yr & 6 months they would take off another like 50 bucks from the phone price right? And they are no longer going to do this as well? So essentially everyone will be paying almost 300 bucks for a new dual core device plus be locked into a 2yr agreement where the hell is the incentive for that? Maybe everyone from all the major carriers will wise up & switch over to metro, boost, our virgin mobile & say FU to the major carriers forcing them to lower their prices to be affordable again (i know this a pipe dream). Now lets talk about the 4g issue & how the carriers are no longer offering unlimited data plans to their customers bcoz they believe people will use much more data bcoz the speeds are faster. They are faster but then again it isn't true 4g either it's more like 3.5gs yet they're constantly touting 4g. & I believe at this moment only VZW has anything close to true 4g, but only a select cities have it in this point & time same goes for Sprint & T-Mo. And the only reason right now that VZW's LTE network is getting those kind of speeds is bcoz only a few cities have it do not many people are clogging up the network with traffic.

Now Sprint charges a $10.00 premium for 4g every month & I believe this may also happen worth the others as well.(We will have to wait & see) But as I mentioned earlier Sprint's WiiMax network is only in a handfull of cities yet they are charging anyone who bought an Evo Shift,& Epic that 10.00 premium even though not everyone can take advantage if the 4g network. So a friend of mine is paying 10.00 bucks extra every month & where we live there is no WiiMax network. So my question is "Is Sprint going to refund her money if she doesn't get 4g by the time her 2yr contact is up?" Also Sprint is switching to LTE. "Will Sprint give anyone who purchased an Evo, The Shift, or Epic a new phone bcoz their old phones won't be compatible with the new network?"

& If At&t buys T-Mo then it's only going to get worse bcoz no other phone company can compete except VZW. So VZW & ATT will jack up there prices bcoz everyone has to choose one our the other to have a mobile phone so they get everyone by the balls & charge you whatever they want. Which I read somewhere else that T-Mo prices are already starting to spike (i could be wrong on that). I love the high end devices they make working at my job less terrible, but if this continues to happen then it's not worth it. Hopefully companies like wirefly & amazon will ease some of the pain. Sorry for the lengthy post I just wanted to raise done questions to debate.

For the last time, Sprint's $10 fee isn't a 4G fee, per se. In fact, they now charge that $10 on ALL smart phones.

... And they're still cheaper than AT&T or Verizon, and they still don't cap and are the only unlimited data plan anywhere NEAR the price point of $79/month total price.

If this article rings true, despite all the comments, in 4 years I think ive sold no more than a handful of devices on 1 yr contracts. I get it, its nice to have the choice however as devices are becoming more expensive, small computers, u have to ask self, if the subsidy of devices are increasing, a $650 or $750 iPhone, $600 Droid, 1 yr is not long enough to make up for it. Greed? No, prices on plans are dropping, and prices of devices are increasing. What did u think is going to happen? You don't expect to buy a new computer every year without paying for it. Let's be honest, a customer who is buying a basic phone is not upgrading their phone every year, its the smartphone user. Though I empathize with consumers, how else from a business standpoint would u recommend compensating for the decrease in plans and increase in device subsidies??? Verizon Wireless isn't increasing prices of full retail priced devices, ATT is, now that's greed!!!

So what new Android units are scheduled to hit before the 17th? I have one available upgrade that I can use. Then all of my lines will be out of contract at the same time next year.

I'll tell ya, the Boost Mobile $50 all in plan is sounding better and better. $179.00 for an Android phone and pay as you go. Granted the phone is midrange, but you get most of the features that any other phone gets.

There you go, God bless America. Now all the whiners have a place to buy their "oh so essential" facebook/twitter/whatever communication gadget to let their friends know how many times they farted today.

I had Verizon for many years, hated them and went to Sprint last year with my Evo. Sprint has great plans but I'm wondering how long it will be before sprint starts doing the same shit.

Sprint already did the same shit. They changed their Premier plan, and not just prospectively, they took away people's upgrades who had already earned them after 12 months on the old Premier plan. They yanked away my upgrade. So I went to Verizon.

Sadly, it looks like I'll be going back to Sprint and playing the Premier game with them: up my contract 9 or more months in for 3 months so I can qualify for Premier Gold in 12 months of service and upgrade my phone. What a ridiculous waste of time.

Lets hope Sprint takes advantage of this to set themselves apart from Verizon. They need something right now, especially in wake of that dual screen brick showing up soon.

The plans are barely cheaper when you consider the mandatory $10 data add-on. There's no such thing as a $69.99 Sprint smartphone plan anymore, even though they'd love you to think that. It's $79.99 minimum.

What's the price on Verizon? $29.99 for data, $39.99 for voice, throw in $5 for 250 texts. That's $75. Just because Sprint says they're cheaper doesn't mean they really are.

This isn't as surprising as one might think at first glance. One of my friends has been an employee of AT&Ts for over three years now and she says that over that period of time AT&T has never truly had an option for a one year contract. It is just something that is available only during promotional periods and even during those periods there is almost never a discount on the phone, you pay full retail. Verizon is just joining the bandwagon.

We do the contract with VZW since we get the discount and arent changing companies anyway...
Where our cabin in in WA state (where I am right now), VZW is the ONLY cell coverage (mother in law has TMo and it goes dead 20miles south on the road) and AT&T, well,its AT&T...
VZW not only has coverage, but its full power in 3G (using 3G Hot Spot to my netbook now)... The antenna is actually at the edge of town, I can see it out our rear window about 3/4 mile away..
So, since we arent getting rid of VZW, just as well get something from them for staying :-)

I liked 1yr contracts...

While the phone itself costs more up front than on a 2yr deal, it is not as expensive as non-contract price.

Besides, after 1 year...

The phone's battery is usually shot and needs to be replaced, and the phone's warranty is over.

So I'd keep 1yr renewing for a new phone under warranty with new battery.

I'm going to miss that.

And, insurance, well, I'm not hard enough on my phones to make it worth while.

I'm confused about the "Apple made them do it" line. You can't buy an iPhone on Verizon with a 1 year contract, even today. So is the reasoning that people were going to go with other phones on Verizon because they could get them on 1 year deals? Seems like a stretch. I think most people spouting the "Apple made them do it" line think that you can get an iPhone on a 1 year deal right now. You can't.

Oh, and Verizon is just following Sprint. Sprint changed their Premier program and took away my upgrade (I had been eligible to upgrade after 12 months since December but never did. On April 1 I couldn't upgrade anymore). So I moved to Verizon, got a TBolt on a 1 year deal. I had been hoping to buy 1 year contracts on Verizon from here on out. This is really disappointing. I'd consider signing a 2 year deal on Sprint because its ETF is reasonable, but the $350 ETF on Verizon is simply too outrageous to justify a 2 year contract. I guess I'll be going back to Sprint next year, and for three months upping my plan so I can qualify as Premier Gold and get an annual upgrade.

Called VZW today and the guy was kinda ticked off by this move also. First they get rid of annual upgrades, now this. He suggest that i contact the VZW Headquarters Executive Relations Team. HQExec.Relations@VerizonWireless.com so i did. Im waiting on a response, really wanna see what they say. We should all shoot them an email.