How to check if you are eligible for a phone upgrade with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile

How to check if you are eligible for a phone upgrade with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile
If you're anything like us, you are probably tempted to ditch that old phone of yours and buy a brand new one this weekend. And how could one not be with all of these great Black Friday deals on smartphones and tablets that the nation's carriers are already teasing us with? However, taking advantage of any of these awesome discounts requires your signature under a new 2-year contract with the respective carrier. 

Do you know if you are eligible for an upgrade already? In case you aren't sure, we've made it a bit easier for you to look up your upgrade eligibility status with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or T-mobile. It turns out that doing so is easier than one might think.


Here's a trick you might not be familiar with yet: you can actually check your upgrade eligibility using nothing but your phone. Just dial *639# (*NEW#) and a message with your eligibility status will be sent back shortly. Alternatively, subscribers can go to myAT&T and visit the "Upgrade Phone" section after logging in. Those who don't have myAT&T login credentials yet can register here.

Note that if you have multiple lines registered under your account, AT&T allows you to exchange upgrade rights. Having that convenience comes at no extra charge.

AT&T iPhone owners who want to get the iPhone 5 can check the status of their upgrade eligibility using AT&T Upgrader. Once on the page, the subscriber has to provide the number of the phone they want to upgrade, the last four digits of the primary account holder's Social Security number, and the billing ZIP Code. Those who purchased an iPhone from AT&T with a 2-year pact and have no outstanding bills should be eligible for an iPhone 5 upgrade once they are 18 months into their contract.

For the most part, AT&T subscribers should be eligible for an upgrade 20 months after signing their most recent 2-year service agreement. Keep in mind that a $36 upgrade fee applies, and you'll have to sign a new 2-year contract if you want to buy a new AT&T smartphone on the cheap.


Like AT&T, Verizon also lets its subscribers check their upgrade eligibility from their handsets. The number they need to dial is #874 (#UPG), and a text message will be sent back shortly. Their other option is to visit the Verizon upgrade eligibility check web page or to log in to My Verzion and go to "Upgrade Phone" under the "Account Maintenance" tab.

Depending on their account, some Verizon subscribers who have committed to a 2-year service plan can purchase a new phone at a discount price once they are 20 months into their contract. Keep into account that a $30 upgrade fee applies.


Again, there's a way of checking your upgrade eligibility status straight from your Sprint phone. You do that by sending the word "upgrade" as a text message to number 1311. You can also look that up online on Sprint's web page.

Sprint's upgrade program requires you to have no unpaid bills (naturally), and to sign a new 2-year contract with a plan of at least $40 per month.

Subscribers who have signed their last agreement before October 2, 2011, will be eligible for an upgrade once they are 22 months into their contract. Those who signed after that date, however, will have to wait for only 20 months until they can get a subsidized phone from Sprint. The carrier clarifies that a $36 activation fee may apply.

In case you no longer need your previous smartphone after upgrading, you can give it to Sprint so that it can get refurbished or recycled. Depending on the condition and type of the device being returned, subscribers may receive up to $300 worth of credit. Note that the phone you're returning does not have to be a Sprint device. You may return up to 5 handsets per every 12 months of service.


T-Mobile users may check whether they are eligible for an upgrade by signing into their My T-Mobile account and selecting "Upgrade Phone". 

The carrier may allow you to buy a discounted phone as early as 12 months after your last upgrade, but only as long as you meet its conditions. Most importantly, you must sign up for a qualifying rate plan - customers on a Value Plan or an Even More Plus plan aren't eligible for such discounts as they purchase their phones at full price.

Those who are 12 to 17 months into their qualifying 2-year contracts are eligible for Early Upgrade pricing, and subscribers who have last upgraded 18 to 21 months ago are eligible for Early Upgrade Plus, which offers even better discounts.

Subscribers that are 22 months into their 2-year contracts or 11 months into their 1-year contracts are eligible for the best discounts on phones that T-Mobile has to offer.

Of course, all upgrades require your signature under a new 2-year contract. Also, a $18 upgrade fee applies.



1. psycc

Posts: 12; Member since: Dec 08, 2010

With AT&T you can dial *639# (*NEW#) from your phone and it will send you back a text with your eligibility results.

2. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

Phonearena, I know this is kinda off subject but I have a request...I'm doing a social studies/science fair experiment about what people know about their cell-phones. As I got to doing my experiments (surveys) I learned that people have become confused about the term 4G. All these Sprint, T-mobile, Verizon, and AT&T adds claiming that they have the best, largest, fastest 4G is utterly confusing to them. Verizon doesn't even claim that T-mobile has 4G because of HSPA+. AT&T claims they have the most 4G around the nation because of its LTE & HSPA+. Verizon has the most LTE coverage period (I can vouch for that because, I recently got Verizon's LTE in my stretch of the swamp). I wish could explain them the difference but as a kiddo with nomadic ambition, I'm pressed for time. Seriously, though, I talked to a woman who I explained the difference between LTE and HSPA+ and it made her decide to switch from Verizon's postpaid network to T-mobile's prepaid network. But I'm only one person. Black Friday is coming around and I have a lot of survey's to do. I'd really appreciate it if you can rectify this for your non-geeky website users. (P.S) I have no preference to LTE or HSPA+ Because in my use of the two, HSPA+ performs as good as LTE.

6. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

I do not believe that Sprint claims to be the fastest - their 3G is the slowest and their 4G barely exists. Recent tests show at&t is fastest overall, but between AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile it just depends on where you live and how well built up their '4G' networks are.

3. speed4evr

Posts: 79; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Sprint customers can text upgrade 1311 and also usage to 1311 for usage

5. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Another pointless article by phonearena

7. inertiatic

Posts: 34; Member since: May 29, 2012

If you are in a two year contract and get an upgrade after 20 months and sign another two year contract, does your new contract last two more years or two years and four months more? Just curious.

8. Owlet

Posts: 450; Member since: Feb 21, 2011

I believe 2 more years. You just sign a new one a little early, prior to the existing contract expiration.

9. Jeradiah3

Posts: 1149; Member since: Feb 11, 2010

I like that you can spend less on a phone when you upgrade to a new contract with your respected carrier, but i dont like the amount of time you have to wait until you are eligible. I have AT&T and I had to wait over 18 months to upgrade. you should be able to upgrade after a year because of the rate of newer mobile phones that are available. technology doesnt wait for a carriers upgrade to unveil their new products lol

10. 1ceTr0n

Posts: 549; Member since: May 20, 2012

I want a Note 2 bad enough I may add a line to my note 1 account, get Note 2 at Costco with second line for discount price, and then cancel line a few weeks later.

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