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Alternatives to Apple Card financing for the iPhone 12, Mini, Pro and Pro Max
How to pay for the newest iPhone when Apple's financing shuts you out.
The new iPhone 12 models are slated to start releasing at the end of October. With a price tag of $699 to $1,399, it’s time to plan for how you’ll pay for your next smartphone.
Borrow a personal loan
- Good for those who want financing with $0 down payment and more flexibility.
A personal loan is a general-use financing tool that you can use to cover any large expense. Unlike phone-specific financing, you can apply for personal loan amounts of $1,000 to $50,000 and use the funds to pay for must-have accessories as well. But interest rates can be high — especially for smaller loans — which means you may end up paying more for your phone than it’s worth.
Finance your iPhone through your carrier
- Good for those who want to roll payments for their phone into their monthly bill.
If you aren’t approved for financing through Apple’s site, you might be able to get financing through your current mobile carrier. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile all offer phone financing that can be grouped into your monthly bill. Carrier financing typically comes with an interest-free period of up to 24 months, but you’ll likely have to make an initial payment at checkout to receive your new iPhone.
Switch to a new carrier offering a stellar discount
- Good for those who aren’t married to their current carriers — and are on the lookout for a deal.
Only AT&T has an iPhone 12-specific deal as of October, but we’ll likely start seeing carriers offer bonuses for switching over once the release date nears. Some carriers may still offer discounts for the iPhone 11, while others may take a chunk off the cost when you sign a multiyear contract. And you could potentially score a large discount if you trade in specific smartphones — including previous iPhone models.
Here’s a breakdown of what the big four carriers have on offer as of October 2020:
- AT&T. Current customers can get the iPhone 12 for $0 when they trade in an eligible device, sign up for an unlimited plan and buy on a 30-month installment agreement.
- T-Mobile. If you have an eligible smartphone from the past few years to trade in, you could get $500 off the iPhone 11. And if you have a newer model smartphone, you may be able to trade it in for up to the full value of an iPhone 11 — paid in the form of statement credits over 24 months.
- Verizon. Verizon offers up to $450 in the form of a gift card — including older models like the iPhone XS.
Use the iPhone trade-up program
- Good for current smartphone users who need extra cash to foot the bill.
Already have an iPhone? Apple allows you to trade in your old device — including iPads, Macs and other smartphones — which you can use to partly fund your new iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 12 Pro Max.
The amount you receive depends on the model and condition your phone is in, with newer phones getting the most bank. But even if you have an older device, it might be worth trading in anyway — it’ll be more useful than sitting in a drawer full of low tech junk, and even if it’s not eligible for a trade in, Apple will recycle it for free.
Last-ditch option: A short-term loan
If none of the above four options work for you, you have another alternative — albeit a costly one: A short-term loan. These loans are small-dollar financing products designed for repayment within a few weeks to a few months, depending on the lender.
Because finance charges for every $100 you borrow can be high, you might want to wait until you’ve saved enough to purchase the iPhone 12 or work on improving your finances so you can choose another option instead.
How much does a new iPhone cost?
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With iPhones becoming increasingly expensive, finding a way to pay for it can get more complicated. If you don’t want the new Apple Card or financing through a carrier, a personal loan might be a good alternative — provided you’re able to score a low APR. To learn more about other financing options, check out our guide to personal loans.
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