No, Verizon phones didn't get cheaper, you're just getting locked in longer

Verizon logo
Verizon logo (Image credit: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Verizon has removed the option for 24 and 30-month payments in favor of a 36-month option.
  • AT&T also only offers 36-month payment plans on phones sold through its site.
  • Customers can still pay full price for phones or buy them from the manufacturer for more payment options.

If you've ever gone into a carrier store to buy a new phone, you know the deal. The sales staff works out a new monthly rate for you, confirms it with the sales manager, then tells you about all the wonderful new accessories you're getting in your bundle. One way the month-to-month prices have continued to tumble isn't by offering you a better value in a competitive market; it's about locking you in for longer.

As discovered by Droid Life Verizon is no longer offering 24 and 30-month payment plans on new devices sold by the carrier. Formerly, customers at checkout could choose between paying for a phone with 24 or 30 monthly payments or simply buying the phone outright if finances allowed. Verizon has ditched these options in favor of just two options, a 36-month payment plan or full retail price.

As noted by Verizon's FAQ on the matter, if you've signed up for a 24 or 30-month plan before February 9, 2022, you can still keep your old payment plan. For example, partners like the Google Store still offer the 30-month option if you buy through that website. Apple still has the 24-month plan listed for its iPhones.

Source: Verizon, Google, and Apple

If you haven't been paying attention, the full price of the best Android phones can lead to some sticker shock, with some premium devices coming in at over $1,000. Carriers and manufacturers have made it easier to buy these phones with monthly payment plans that can spread the cost out over a couple of years.

The problem is that if the phone becomes unusable or you need to upgrade for another reason, you're still on the hook for the money. That means if you want to leave your carrier for a cheaper plan, you've got to pay off the phone before you head out. And no, it's not like a rental where you can simply give an undamaged phone back to recoup some of the cost. When you sign up and receive the phone, you've got to pay for it all eventually.

AT&T also uses 36-month plans for its device sales, meaning that its prices roughly line up with Verizon's new prices. For example, the $899 128GB Google Pixel Pro comes in at $24.99 per month at Verizon, $26.12 per month at AT&T, and $31.25 per month at T-Mobile with $149.99 down. T-Mobile only offers 24-month payment plans. They all work out the full retail price for the carrier (AT&T charges $40 more than the rest), but you're stuck paying for your expensive AT&T and Verizon plan for a full year longer than T-Mobile.

It's worth noting that if you want to upgrade your phone early, you can do so by paying off the device in full. If you're an iPhone user, you may also be eligible for Verizon's early upgrade program for iPhones. This program allows you to upgrade if you've paid for at least 50% of your iPhone, turn in the device in good working condition, and buy a new qualifying phone from Verizon.

Samuel Contreras

When Samuel is not writing about networking or 5G at Android Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.