TidBITS: The iPhone Upgrade Program: A Year in Review

classic Classic list List threaded Threaded
6 messages Options
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

TidBITS: The iPhone Upgrade Program: A Year in Review

TidBITS Articles
The iPhone Upgrade Program: A Year in Review

This article was just published by TidBITS and sent to you at your request.

The iPhone Upgrade Program: A Year in Review

By Josh Centers
http://tidbits.com/article/17656

I now have an iPhone X and have returned my iPhone 7 Plus, thus completing one full cycle of Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program, and I thought I’d share my impressions and answer any questions you may have.

For those out of the loop on the iPhone Upgrade Program, here’s a quick refresher: in the United States, cell phones used to be sold via carrier on a two-year contract. You’d get the phone at a cheap, subsidized price, usually $200 or so, and would pay off the rest of the phone’s cost as part of the service fee for the next two years.

Carriers tired of this approach, and after T-Mobile successfully implemented an installment plan for buying the iPhone 5 in 2013, the industry began phasing out subsidized phones and contract service.

Some pundits, like Jay Yarrow, formerly of Business Insider, claimed that this would doom Apple. But as we now know, that was far from reality, because Apple adapted to the new environment.

Many people don’t want to cough up the $649 to $1149 for a new iPhone all at once, so carriers started offering installment plans that let customers pay the phone off over 24 months. Most of these plans let you trade in a phone after a year or so for a new one, assuming the phone is in decent condition. Apart from activation fees, this installment approach costs you nothing extra beyond perpetual device payments. If you pay off a phone instead of trading it in, it’s yours to keep.

Apple, seeing a market opportunity, launched its own installment program, the iPhone Upgrade Program, which is essentially the same as the carrier installment plans, except that it includes AppleCare+, which explains why its monthly fee is higher than plans from the carriers.

(I got a chance to use AppleCare+ with my iPhone 7 Plus, since I stupidly broke the screen while on vacation just days after acquiring it. Getting it fixed required a typical Apple Store visit with the two-hour drive, two-hour wait in the snooty mall with no food, followed by a two-hour drive home. However, I paid only $29 plus $2.68 in sales tax for the repair instead of the usual $149 fee. You get two screen replacements with AppleCare+ at that price before you have to start paying full price to fix a cracked screen.)

Now, to take some of the mystique out of all of this: the iPhone Upgrade Program is actually an interest-free loan administered by Citizens One. Every year, when you order a new iPhone through the program, Citizens One checks your credit (a “hard pull,” which can negatively affect your credit score) and issues you a new loan if you’re approved.

Despite being administered by a third party, the iPhone Upgrade Program has some uniquely Apple pros and cons.

iPhone Upgrade Program: Hands On Experience -- My first impression of the iPhone Upgrade Program in 2016 was not great. It was the middle of the night, and not only was I sleepily fumbling to order an iPhone 7 Plus quickly, I also had to fill out a loan form. It wasn’t onerous, but when you’re fighting the rush and unstable servers, every second counts. Everything went through, but the extra paperwork prevented me from getting the iPhone 7 Plus on day one — it arrived a week after launch.


I know, that’s the very definition of first-world problem, but I do this for a living so I’m under pressure to get Apple products as soon as possible so I can tell you about them. Also, it stands to reason that iPhone Upgrade Program customers are Apple’s most loyal and want each new iPhone right away.

After you place your order, there’s no way to know if Citizens One has approved you until you receive an approval email. That could take hours or even days, so if you’re trying to beat a rush, it adds extra stress. And if you’re denied or entered something incorrectly, which is easy to do in the middle of the night, you’re set for an even longer delay. I hope Apple improves this onboarding process in the future.

However, Apple made up for it this year, when it came time to order the iPhone X. Several days before pre-orders began, I was prompted to open the Apple Store app, choose my model, and work through the approval process beforehand. When pre-order madness hit in the middle of the night, it took only a couple of taps on my iPhone to complete my upgrade. Some iPhone Upgrade Program customers didn’t receive their iPhones on the first possible day, but it seemed to give us better odds. As it should, since we’re giving money directly to Apple instead of a third-party seller.

The process of returning my iPhone 7 Plus was easy. A few days after my iPhone X arrived, I received a nondescript cardboard box containing a bag, a SIM removal tool, two pieces of tape, and instructions. All I had to do was reset the iPhone 7 Plus, pop out its SIM card and replace the empty tray, drop it in the bag, put the bag in the box, tape up the box, tear away the shipping label to expose the return label, and hand it to the FedEx guy when he next delivered a package. It’s almost as painless as Apple could make it; if you’ve ever sent a device to Apple for repair, that’s a similar experience.


A few days later, I received an email from Apple letting me know that my trade-in was complete and that my loan had been closed. That was a relief, because my iPhone 7 Plus had a gouge in the back. If Apple had been dissatisfied with its condition, I could have been charged a repair fee. Fortunately, Apple doesn’t seem to be that particular, although I presume a cracked screen would require repair.

Where the iPhone Upgrade Program Fails -- Apple products are like rides at Disney World: they work great as long as you’re behaving as expected, but the second you go off the rails, things get messy. The iPhone Upgrade Program is no different.

As long as you stick to the plan, the iPhone Upgrade Program works flawlessly. But the second you need to change a payment method, want to pay off a device early, or need to make up a payment, you have to deal with Citizens One, because Apple handles none of that.

Amazingly, I made it over a year without creating a Citizens One account, and I only did so for research on this article. Which is good, because the process is agonizing. I didn’t keep a count, but it probably took 30 to 40 attempts to create a username/password combo that Citizens One would accept. Check the screenshot for the inane list of password requirements.


Once I logged in, there wasn’t much the Citizens One Web site would allow me to do. You can change the payment method, and that’s about it. I dug around until I found a link about paying off my iPhone early, and it told me to call them. Ugh.

But in my experience, Verizon, from which we bought my wife’s iPhone, isn’t any better. Although the Verizon site offered a large, red, PAY OFF YOUR DEVICE button, I couldn’t get it to work, and I ended up paying off my wife’s iPhone via chat.

Ideally, I should be able to just make early payments or pay off an iPhone entirely from the Web site, without having to have a conversation with anyone. My suspicion is that Apple and the carriers don’t want to make this easy, because they want you paying in perpetuity.

If you’re an iPhone X user on the iPhone Upgrade Program, you might find yourself dealing with a hassle in 2018, especially if you want the latest iPhone immediately. The iPhone X arrived a month after the iPhone 8, but if Apple releases the next top-tier iPhone in less than 12 months — the minimum number of payments Apple requires before you can trade up — you may have to wait, because Apple won’t cut you any breaks:

You will still be eligible to upgrade next year. However, your new upgrade eligibility date will be determined by the start date of your new iPhone Upgrade Program loan. Please note that you are eligible to upgrade after six months in the program, as long as you have made the equivalent of at least 12 payments.

The most annoying part about the required cycle is that if you have to wait even a week to order a new iPhone, you may be waiting even longer to receive it as shipping times slip further and further out. I hope Apple has a solution for next year — either an easy, negligible fee to upgrade early or reserved iPhones for iPhone Upgrade Program members.

I’ll withhold judgement until next year, but if the iPhone Upgrade Program makes me wait a long time for the next iPhone, I’ll seriously consider alternatives.

Is the iPhone Upgrade Program Right for You? -- When the iPhone Upgrade Program debuted, you had to go to an Apple Store to purchase or trade in an iPhone. It was hard to endorse then, but now that you can complete the entire cycle remotely, it’s a lot easier to recommend.

The iPhone Upgrade Program is probably the best bet for dedicated iPhone fans who always want the latest device but don’t want to pay all at once. And if you tend to be rough on your devices, AppleCare+ is a far better deal than the insurance offered by the carriers.

Here are two questions to ask before signing up:

  • Do you need or want AppleCare+? For iPhones with exorbitant repair costs, like the iPhone X, AppleCare+ is a good idea. But if you don’t have an Apple Store nearby, AppleCare+ may not be your best bet for insurance.

  • Are you tempted by non-Apple phones? If you’re considering an Android phone, you may not want to be locked into Apple’s program. (However, perusing Apple’s fine print, it appears that you can get out of your commitment a year early by upgrading to a new iPhone and then returning it. Your mileage may vary.)

For many Apple fans, I think the iPhone Upgrade Program is a financial win because you don’t have to pay for AppleCare+ up front. You can keep the iPhone if you wish, but if you want to switch, you can do so after 12 payments. It offers more flexibility than buying it outright.

Also, if you’re wondering: yes, you can buy more than one iPhone through the iPhone Upgrade Program. The trick is, when you come to the choice of “I’d like to enroll” or “I’m already part of the program,” choose “enroll.” That lets you set up a second Citizens One loan.

Despite some small caveats, Apple has rewarded my faith at every step. I originally signed up for the iPhone Upgrade Program with the hope that the company would allow trade-ins by mail the following year, and that came to pass. Over the next few years, I anticipate the iPhone Upgrade Program will become Apple’s preferred way to sell iPhones, and those customers will be incentivized to buy directly from Apple. For serious Apple fans who want the latest iPhone every year without a large up-front payment, it’s the best choice.

Post a comment

TidBITS members can unsubscribe from just-published articles at http://tidbits.com/subscriptions. TidBITS Talk readers will need to create a filter to delete these articles.

Article copyright © 2017 By Josh Centers . Reuse governed by Creative Commons License.




____________TidBITS Talk Participation Guidelines____________
Post only when you have something substantive to contribute.
Be polite and constructive, and comment on posts, not people.
Quote sparingly, if at all. We all read the previous message.
Start threads with a new message to [hidden email].
Read archives at: http://tidbits.com/pipermail/tidbits-talk/
Unsubscribe at: http://tidbits.com/mailman/options/tidbits-talk
____Mailing List Manners: http://tidbits.com/series/1141 ____
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: TidBITS: The iPhone Upgrade Program: A Year in Review

Marc Zeedar-2

> On Nov 30, 2017, at 1:17 PM, TidBITS Articles <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> I now have an iPhone X and have returned my iPhone 7 Plus, thus completing one full cycle of Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program, and I thought I’d share my impressions and answer any questions you may have.

I'm in the same situation and thought I'd share a couple of data points.


> the iPhone Upgrade Program is actually an interest-free loan administered by Citizens One. Every year, when you order a new iPhone through the program, Citizens One checks your credit (a “hard pull,” which can negatively affect your credit score) and issues you a new loan if you’re approved.

Actually, this not necessarily correct. I literally just got off the phone with Citizens One and confirmed that the *first* time you apply it is definitely a hard check, but subsequent ones are *probably* only a soft check.

If you've had any missed payments or other credit issues they detect, they have the option of doing a hard check. Both of mine this year were only soft checks, so no ding on my credit.


> If you’re an iPhone X user on the iPhone Upgrade Program, you might find yourself dealing with a hassle in 2018, especially if you want the latest iPhone immediately. The iPhone X arrived a month after the iPhone 8, but if Apple releases the next top-tier iPhone in less than 12 months — the minimum number of payments Apple requires before you can trade up — you may have to wait, because Apple won’t cut you any breaks:

Actually, this is not true. According to Citizens One, what will happen is that as long as you've had the old phone for at least 6 months (making you eligible for an upgrade), what will happen is you will order the new phone as normal (applying for a Citizens One loan) and if you're approved, it will simply charge you the number of payments required to reach the 12 payment minimum.

So next year if the new phone comes out in Sept and I've only made 10 payments on my X, I'll just have make two extra payments at the time of my order and I'll get the new phone right away (no delay).

This makes sense to me as I think I saw something along those lines when I was ordering my X (or my mom's 8, which is also on the upgrade plan). It tells you how many extra payments are required to bring your account to the 12 minimum. You just pay that as a sort of a "down payment" on the new phone.


One other item of note: if you make extra payments between ordering the new phone and returning the old one, you will get an automatic refund of the extra payment. The amount can vary, however, as it is prorated since you can't go a whole month without some kind of payment.

In my case I thought it had charged me a month's payment at the time of the order (it said it would), but apparently that was just an authorization and it dropped off after a while (the payment did not go through, though I'd seen it as "pending" for a while). So even though I got my new X two months later and made two payments on my old 8+ in the meantime, the overcharge was prorated and I got $24 back (onto my credit card).

That was why I had called Citizen's One (your article reminded me I needed to call). It took several people to figure out the math and explain it to me, but it makes sense now, as you can't go a month without paying on one phone or the other, but if they overlap, you get a refund for that overlap period (where you're technically paying for two phones).

(Interestingly, according to Citizens One, it's *Apple* who figures out that refund amount and tells the bank: they have no control of that and just do what Apple tells them. Which explains why they had a hard time explaining the proration numbers to me.)



Marc Zeedar
Publisher, xDev Magazine and xDevLibrary
www.xdevmag.com | www.xdevlibrary.com







____________TidBITS Talk Participation Guidelines____________
Post only when you have something substantive to contribute.
Be polite and constructive, and comment on posts, not people.
Quote sparingly, if at all. We all read the previous message.
Start threads with a new message to [hidden email].
Read archives at: http://tidbits.com/pipermail/tidbits-talk/
Unsubscribe at: http://tidbits.com/mailman/options/tidbits-talk
____Mailing List Manners: http://tidbits.com/series/1141 ____
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: TidBITS: The iPhone Upgrade Program: A Year in Review

Josh Centers

> On Nov 30, 2017, at 4:34 PM, Zeedar Marc <[hidden email]> wrote:
>

>> the iPhone Upgrade Program is actually an interest-free loan administered by Citizens One. Every year, when you order a new iPhone through the program, Citizens One checks your credit (a “hard pull,” which can negatively affect your credit score) and issues you a new loan if you’re approved.
>
> Actually, this not necessarily correct. I literally just got off the phone with Citizens One and confirmed that the *first* time you apply it is definitely a hard check, but subsequent ones are *probably* only a soft check.
>
> If you've had any missed payments or other credit issues they detect, they have the option of doing a hard check. Both of mine this year were only soft checks, so no ding on my credit.

I checked Credit Karma as I was writing this article and Citizens One (actually listed as Citizens Bank on the report) has done two hard pulls on me this year (one for my upgrade, one for my wife’s new phone). I have no missed payments, but I have no idea what they consider a “credit issue.” I bought a house this year and it played all sorts of havoc with my credit.

It’s actually nearly impossible to miss a payment since it gets charged to your credit card every month automatically — I should add that to the article.

>
>> If you’re an iPhone X user on the iPhone Upgrade Program, you might find yourself dealing with a hassle in 2018, especially if you want the latest iPhone immediately. The iPhone X arrived a month after the iPhone 8, but if Apple releases the next top-tier iPhone in less than 12 months — the minimum number of payments Apple requires before you can trade up — you may have to wait, because Apple won’t cut you any breaks:
>
> Actually, this is not true. According to Citizens One, what will happen is that as long as you've had the old phone for at least 6 months (making you eligible for an upgrade), what will happen is you will order the new phone as normal (applying for a Citizens One loan) and if you're approved, it will simply charge you the number of payments required to reach the 12 payment minimum.
>

I meant this to imply that you could make additional payments to square it up to 12, but I’ll revise to spell it out.

---
Josh Centers
Managing Editor - TidBITS
http://TidBITS.com
http://joshcenters.com
@jcenters


____________TidBITS Talk Participation Guidelines____________
Post only when you have something substantive to contribute.
Be polite and constructive, and comment on posts, not people.
Quote sparingly, if at all. We all read the previous message.
Start threads with a new message to [hidden email].
Read archives at: http://tidbits.com/pipermail/tidbits-talk/
Unsubscribe at: http://tidbits.com/mailman/options/tidbits-talk
____Mailing List Manners: http://tidbits.com/series/1141 ____
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: TidBITS: The iPhone Upgrade Program: A Year in Review

Marc Zeedar-2

> On Nov 30, 2017, at 3:11 PM, Josh Centers <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>
>> On Nov 30, 2017, at 4:34 PM, Zeedar Marc <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> I checked Credit Karma as I was writing this article and Citizens One (actually listed as Citizens Bank on the report) has done two hard pulls on me this year (one for my upgrade, one for my wife’s new phone). I have no missed payments, but I have no idea what they consider a “credit issue.” I bought a house this year and it played all sorts of havoc with my credit.

Yes, Citizens One rep told the reasons behind the pull are "complicated," so she said they usually tell people to assume a hard pull, just in case. But it is good news that it isn't guaranteed to be a hard pull -- sometimes it's just a soft one.


> It’s actually nearly impossible to miss a payment since it gets charged to your credit card every month automatically — I should add that to the article.

Well, your card could have expired or be over its limit or locked and the payment declined.


> I meant this to imply that you could make additional payments to square it up to 12, but I’ll revise to spell it out.

Yes, but the good news is that you don't have to do anything special to make the extra payments during the year. It'll just happen when you try to buy a new phone on the plan.


Marc Zeedar
Publisher, xDev Magazine and xDevLibrary
www.xdevmag.com | www.xdevlibrary.com







____________TidBITS Talk Participation Guidelines____________
Post only when you have something substantive to contribute.
Be polite and constructive, and comment on posts, not people.
Quote sparingly, if at all. We all read the previous message.
Start threads with a new message to [hidden email].
Read archives at: http://tidbits.com/pipermail/tidbits-talk/
Unsubscribe at: http://tidbits.com/mailman/options/tidbits-talk
____Mailing List Manners: http://tidbits.com/series/1141 ____
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: TidBITS: The iPhone Upgrade Program: A Year in Review

sinarades
In reply to this post by TidBITS Articles
I am not truly on the iPhone Upgrade Program, but I did purchase a 7+ last year.  I bought from BestBuy, paid cash and received credit for trading in my iPhone 6.  The odd thing that happened was they could allow me to pay for all but $24 of the cost.  I was told it was a Verizon requirement and that I could go to Verizon’s website and pay the remainder any time otherwise Verizon would be taking $1/mo. payment on the balance.  This seems odd to me.  Any thoughts as to what Verizon’s motivation might be?


On Nov 30, 2017, at 1:17 PM, TidBITS Articles <[hidden email]> wrote:

This article was just published by TidBITS and sent to you at your request.

The iPhone Upgrade Program: A Year in Review

By Josh Centers 
http://tidbits.com/article/17656

I now have an iPhone X and have returned my iPhone 7 Plus, thus completing one full cycle of Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program, and I thought I’d share my impressions and answer any questions you may have.

For those out of the loop on the iPhone Upgrade Program, here’s a quick refresher: in the United States, cell phones used to be sold via carrier on a two-year contract. You’d get the phone at a cheap, subsidized price, usually $200 or so, and would pay off the rest of the phone’s cost as part of the service fee for the next two years.

Carriers tired of this approach, and after T-Mobile successfully implemented an installment plan for buying the iPhone 5 in 2013, the industry began phasing out subsidized phones and contract service.

Some pundits, like Jay Yarrow, formerly of Business Insider, claimed that this would doom Apple. But as we now know, that was far from reality, because Apple adapted to the new environment.

Many people don’t want to cough up the $649 to $1149 for a new iPhone all at once, so carriers started offering installment plans that let customers pay the phone off over 24 months. Most of these plans let you trade in a phone after a year or so for a new one, assuming the phone is in decent condition. Apart from activation fees, this installment approach costs you nothing extra beyond perpetual device payments. If you pay off a phone instead of trading it in, it’s yours to keep.

Apple, seeing a market opportunity, launched its own installment program, the iPhone Upgrade Program, which is essentially the same as the carrier installment plans, except that it includes AppleCare+, which explains why its monthly fee is higher than plans from the carriers.

(I got a chance to use AppleCare+ with my iPhone 7 Plus, since I stupidly broke the screen while on vacation just days after acquiring it. Getting it fixed required a typical Apple Store visit with the two-hour drive, two-hour wait in the snooty mall with no food, followed by a two-hour drive home. However, I paid only $29 plus $2.68 in sales tax for the repair instead of the usual $149 fee. You get two screen replacements with AppleCare+ at that price before you have to start paying full price to fix a cracked screen.)

Now, to take some of the mystique out of all of this: the iPhone Upgrade Program is actually an interest-free loan administered by Citizens One. Every year, when you order a new iPhone through the program, Citizens One checks your credit (a “hard pull,” which can negatively affect your credit score) and issues you a new loan if you’re approved.

Despite being administered by a third party, the iPhone Upgrade Program has some uniquely Apple pros and cons.

iPhone Upgrade Program: Hands On Experience -- My first impression of the iPhone Upgrade Program in 2016 was not great. It was the middle of the night, and not only was I sleepily fumbling to order an iPhone 7 Plus quickly, I also had to fill out a loan form. It wasn’t onerous, but when you’re fighting the rush and unstable servers, every second counts. Everything went through, but the extra paperwork prevented me from getting the iPhone 7 Plus on day one — it arrived a week after launch.


I know, that’s the very definition of first-world problem, but I do this for a living so I’m under pressure to get Apple products as soon as possible so I can tell you about them. Also, it stands to reason that iPhone Upgrade Program customers are Apple’s most loyal and want each new iPhone right away.

After you place your order, there’s no way to know if Citizens One has approved you until you receive an approval email. That could take hours or even days, so if you’re trying to beat a rush, it adds extra stress. And if you’re denied or entered something incorrectly, which is easy to do in the middle of the night, you’re set for an even longer delay. I hope Apple improves this onboarding process in the future.

However, Apple made up for it this year, when it came time to order the iPhone X. Several days before pre-orders began, I was prompted to open the Apple Store app, choose my model, and work through the approval process beforehand. When pre-order madness hit in the middle of the night, it took only a couple of taps on my iPhone to complete my upgrade. Some iPhone Upgrade Program customers didn’t receive their iPhones on the first possible day, but it seemed to give us better odds. As it should, since we’re giving money directly to Apple instead of a third-party seller.

The process of returning my iPhone 7 Plus was easy. A few days after my iPhone X arrived, I received a nondescript cardboard box containing a bag, a SIM removal tool, two pieces of tape, and instructions. All I had to do was reset the iPhone 7 Plus, pop out its SIM card and replace the empty tray, drop it in the bag, put the bag in the box, tape up the box, tear away the shipping label to expose the return label, and hand it to the FedEx guy when he next delivered a package. It’s almost as painless as Apple could make it; if you’ve ever sent a device to Apple for repair, that’s a similar experience.


A few days later, I received an email from Apple letting me know that my trade-in was complete and that my loan had been closed. That was a relief, because my iPhone 7 Plus had a gouge in the back. If Apple had been dissatisfied with its condition, I could have been charged a repair fee. Fortunately, Apple doesn’t seem to be that particular, although I presume a cracked screen would require repair.

Where the iPhone Upgrade Program Fails -- Apple products are like rides at Disney World: they work great as long as you’re behaving as expected, but the second you go off the rails, things get messy. The iPhone Upgrade Program is no different.

As long as you stick to the plan, the iPhone Upgrade Program works flawlessly. But the second you need to change a payment method, want to pay off a device early, or need to make up a payment, you have to deal with Citizens One, because Apple handles none of that.

Amazingly, I made it over a year without creating a Citizens One account, and I only did so for research on this article. Which is good, because the process is agonizing. I didn’t keep a count, but it probably took 30 to 40 attempts to create a username/password combo that Citizens One would accept. Check the screenshot for the inane list of password requirements.


Once I logged in, there wasn’t much the Citizens One Web site would allow me to do. You can change the payment method, and that’s about it. I dug around until I found a link about paying off my iPhone early, and it told me to call them. Ugh.

But in my experience, Verizon, from which we bought my wife’s iPhone, isn’t any better. Although the Verizon site offered a large, red, PAY OFF YOUR DEVICE button, I couldn’t get it to work, and I ended up paying off my wife’s iPhone via chat.

Ideally, I should be able to just make early payments or pay off an iPhone entirely from the Web site, without having to have a conversation with anyone. My suspicion is that Apple and the carriers don’t want to make this easy, because they want you paying in perpetuity.

If you’re an iPhone X user on the iPhone Upgrade Program, you might find yourself dealing with a hassle in 2018, especially if you want the latest iPhone immediately. The iPhone X arrived a month after the iPhone 8, but if Apple releases the next top-tier iPhone in less than 12 months — the minimum number of payments Apple requires before you can trade up — you may have to wait, because Apple won’t cut you any breaks:

You will still be eligible to upgrade next year. However, your new upgrade eligibility date will be determined by the start date of your new iPhone Upgrade Program loan. Please note that you are eligible to upgrade after six months in the program, as long as you have made the equivalent of at least 12 payments.

The most annoying part about the required cycle is that if you have to wait even a week to order a new iPhone, you may be waiting even longer to receive it as shipping times slip further and further out. I hope Apple has a solution for next year — either an easy, negligible fee to upgrade early or reserved iPhones for iPhone Upgrade Program members.

I’ll withhold judgement until next year, but if the iPhone Upgrade Program makes me wait a long time for the next iPhone, I’ll seriously consider alternatives.

Is the iPhone Upgrade Program Right for You? -- When the iPhone Upgrade Program debuted, you had to go to an Apple Store to purchase or trade in an iPhone. It was hard to endorse then, but now that you can complete the entire cycle remotely, it’s a lot easier to recommend.

The iPhone Upgrade Program is probably the best bet for dedicated iPhone fans who always want the latest device but don’t want to pay all at once. And if you tend to be rough on your devices, AppleCare+ is a far better deal than the insurance offered by the carriers.

Here are two questions to ask before signing up:

  • Do you need or want AppleCare+? For iPhones with exorbitant repair costs, like the iPhone X, AppleCare+ is a good idea. But if you don’t have an Apple Store nearby, AppleCare+ may not be your best bet for insurance.

  • Are you tempted by non-Apple phones? If you’re considering an Android phone, you may not want to be locked into Apple’s program. (However, perusing Apple’s fine print, it appears that you can get out of your commitment a year early by upgrading to a new iPhone and then returning it. Your mileage may vary.)

For many Apple fans, I think the iPhone Upgrade Program is a financial win because you don’t have to pay for AppleCare+ up front. You can keep the iPhone if you wish, but if you want to switch, you can do so after 12 payments. It offers more flexibility than buying it outright.

Also, if you’re wondering: yes, you can buy more than one iPhone through the iPhone Upgrade Program. The trick is, when you come to the choice of “I’d like to enroll” or “I’m already part of the program,” choose “enroll.” That lets you set up a second Citizens One loan.

Despite some small caveats, Apple has rewarded my faith at every step. I originally signed up for the iPhone Upgrade Program with the hope that the company would allow trade-ins by mail the following year, and that came to pass. Over the next few years, I anticipate the iPhone Upgrade Program will become Apple’s preferred way to sell iPhones, and those customers will be incentivized to buy directly from Apple. For serious Apple fans who want the latest iPhone every year without a large up-front payment, it’s the best choice. 

Post a comment

TidBITS members can unsubscribe from just-published articles at http://tidbits.com/subscriptions. TidBITS Talk readers will need to create a filter to delete these articles.

Article copyright © 2017 By Josh Centers . Reuse governed by Creative Commons License.



____________TidBITS Talk Participation Guidelines____________
Post only when you have something substantive to contribute.
Be polite and constructive, and comment on posts, not people.
Quote sparingly, if at all. We all read the previous message.
Start threads with a new message to [hidden email].
Read archives at: http://tidbits.com/pipermail/tidbits-talk/
Unsubscribe at: http://tidbits.com/mailman/options/tidbits-talk
____Mailing List Manners: http://tidbits.com/series/1141 ____




____________TidBITS Talk Participation Guidelines____________
Post only when you have something substantive to contribute.
Be polite and constructive, and comment on posts, not people.
Quote sparingly, if at all. We all read the previous message.
Start threads with a new message to [hidden email].
Read archives at: http://tidbits.com/pipermail/tidbits-talk/
Unsubscribe at: http://tidbits.com/mailman/options/tidbits-talk
____Mailing List Manners: http://tidbits.com/series/1141 ____
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: TidBITS: The iPhone Upgrade Program: A Year in Review

Doug Hogg
In reply to this post by Josh Centers
Four of us have an AT&T family plan, and we are now confronting upgrading to two or three iPhone Xs. The fourth person uses an iPad only. The Apple iPhone Upgrade Program looks good apart from the Citizens One “Hard Pulls”.

We do not want to get iPhone Xs from AT&T because their model will not work with Verizon or Sprint if we decide to switch. So the other possibility is to switch to Verizon now. Has anyone used the Verizon yearly upgrade plan?

:-)

Doug Hogg


> On Nov 30, 2017, at 3:11 PM, Josh Centers <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>
>> On Nov 30, 2017, at 4:34 PM, Zeedar Marc <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>
>>> the iPhone Upgrade Program is actually an interest-free loan administered by Citizens One. Every year, when you order a new iPhone through the program, Citizens One checks your credit (a “hard pull,” which can negatively affect your credit score) and issues you a new loan if you’re approved.
>>
>> Actually, this not necessarily correct. I literally just got off the phone with Citizens One and confirmed that the *first* time you apply it is definitely a hard check, but subsequent ones are *probably* only a soft check.
>>
>> If you've had any missed payments or other credit issues they detect, they have the option of doing a hard check. Both of mine this year were only soft checks, so no ding on my credit.
>
> I checked Credit Karma as I was writing this article and Citizens One (actually listed as Citizens Bank on the report) has done two hard pulls on me this year (one for my upgrade, one for my wife’s new phone). I have no missed payments, but I have no idea what they consider a “credit issue.” I bought a house this year and it played all sorts of havoc with my credit.
>
> It’s actually nearly impossible to miss a payment since it gets charged to your credit card every month automatically — I should add that to the article.
>
>>
>>> If you’re an iPhone X user on the iPhone Upgrade Program, you might find yourself dealing with a hassle in 2018, especially if you want the latest iPhone immediately. The iPhone X arrived a month after the iPhone 8, but if Apple releases the next top-tier iPhone in less than 12 months — the minimum number of payments Apple requires before you can trade up — you may have to wait, because Apple won’t cut you any breaks:
>>
>> Actually, this is not true. According to Citizens One, what will happen is that as long as you've had the old phone for at least 6 months (making you eligible for an upgrade), what will happen is you will order the new phone as normal (applying for a Citizens One loan) and if you're approved, it will simply charge you the number of payments required to reach the 12 payment minimum.
>>
>
> I meant this to imply that you could make additional payments to square it up to 12, but I’ll revise to spell it out.
>
> ---
> Josh Centers
> Managing Editor - TidBITS
> http://TidBITS.com
> http://joshcenters.com
> @jcenters
>
>
> ____________TidBITS Talk Participation Guidelines____________
> Post only when you have something substantive to contribute.
> Be polite and constructive, and comment on posts, not people.
> Quote sparingly, if at all. We all read the previous message.
> Start threads with a new message to [hidden email].
> Read archives at: http://tidbits.com/pipermail/tidbits-talk/
> Unsubscribe at: http://tidbits.com/mailman/options/tidbits-talk
> ____Mailing List Manners: http://tidbits.com/series/1141 ____




____________TidBITS Talk Participation Guidelines____________
Post only when you have something substantive to contribute.
Be polite and constructive, and comment on posts, not people.
Quote sparingly, if at all. We all read the previous message.
Start threads with a new message to [hidden email].
Read archives at: http://tidbits.com/pipermail/tidbits-talk/
Unsubscribe at: http://tidbits.com/mailman/options/tidbits-talk
____Mailing List Manners: http://tidbits.com/series/1141 ____