AT&T upgrade increase

Heads up to those who are on the cusp on buying a new device on AT&T. According to this screen shot sent through the Android Central app, AT&T's getting ready to double it this Sunday, Feb. 12, from $18 to $36. That's not a whole lot of money, we suppose, but it's still 100 percent higher than what it is currently, and nobody likes paying more.

The reasoning? According to AT&T's talking points here, it's because "overall costs associated with upgrading to a new device have increased," and that "devices today are more sophisticated than ever."

AT&T has confirmed the upgrade fee increase to Android Central and tells us that it's actually the first time it's increased the fee in nearly a decade. Said an AT&T spokeswoman:

Wireless devices today are more sophisticated than ever before. And because of that, the costs associated with upgrading to a new device have increased and is reflected in our new upgrade fee. This fee isn’t unique to AT&T and this is the first time we’re changing it in nearly 10 years.

Clock's ticking if you want to get in before the change, folks.

Thanks, anon!


Reader comments

AT&T's upgrade fee set to double on Sunday


If I were an AT&T customer, I'd understand. It's really not that big of a jump, and you've got to expect these things as devices move more towards personal computers and away from feature type phones of old. At least it isn't 50 bucks.

I'm an AT&T customer and I dont understand it. I mean what does it cost them if you buy a new phone? You get it at the upgrade price rather than full price? But you also have to sign a new contract to get that upgrade price which guarantees you will spend even more $ over the next 2 years with them. So how is upgrading your handset costing AT&T more? They actually stand to make more $ selling you the phone for the discounted upgrade price and getting another 2 years worth of service from you than allowing you to buy the phone outright at full retail price and you can walk anytime(if you are no longer on contract)

It costs them a majority of the phone's price tag, and therefore diminished profits. The cost of a smartphone is upwards of $400-900 for a cellular provider, you end up paying a fraction of that because AT&T has paid the manufacturer the money to offer the phone on their service, which is what they make money off of...they want to discourage you from upgrading all the time because it is hard to increase their profits by keeping your profit margin either the same or lower by giving you a new phone, they recoup this loss by raising contract fees.

Well, then why isn't a $199 upgrade phone advertised for $217 (or about to be $235)? They could advertise that price since it's the actually price of you getting that phone on contract. Oh, that's right, because then they couldn't use the time trusted $x99 marketing scheme in their advertising. Such a poor victim AT&T is!

I work for a cellular retailer and the phone costs for the providers are far below "full retail" price. The reason people get their phones at special pricing is because they are being subsidized by the carrier so they will continue a 2 year contract with said carrier. We usually lose anywhere between $100-300, depending on the device, and the subsidies paid by the carrier MORE than make up for our losses. Those subsidies are then recouped by the carrier during the 2 year contract, given that the services they are providing cost far less than you are paying. The price you're paying for a new device is rarely the same as the gross profit the store is making to sell you the device.

yes upgrading an att phone is hard.. move sim card to another phone, done... and the stupid thing is the large majority of the population buying these phones will buy that horse crap as if it is the gospel.

Funniest bit of all is verizon doesnt charge for upgrading / activating a new phone (unless it is a new line) and they are cdma which actually requires them to scan in a few more numbers to their computers... god i hate how stupid people have become..

Actually some verizon stores do charge it really depends on ur location in the US. The cost is normally $20 but is easily waived. In fact in practice only like 20% of reps charge it.

-VZW Employee

If you insist, I am a brother of an employee that sells them, and a friend of a manager and when i asked them if i was going to be charged an activation fee, both of them laughed and said no, only when starting a new account...

that being said the sales person i had when getting my galaxy nexus was an asshole and just added insurance to my line even though i said i didnt want it, took 2 months to straighten that out.

edit: i should say this happened to both of the bb storms i had them sell me, the droid i bought from them, and the incredible i got for my wife, every single time, insurance added to the line.

Actually Dirrk that fee is if you're doing an EARLY upgrade. VZW offers primary numbers an upgrade a year before their original contract end date...this is done as a courtesy (of course they no longer offer this service but are STILL allowing customers who had an early upgrade available to still take advantage of this one final time). This is the ONLY time you will see a $20 fee, or any fee for that matter, when you upgrade with VZW.

I'm assuming that if you are indeed a "VZW Employee", then maybe you just started with the company yesterday and didn't know this or you possibly work for an authorized agent that has their own rules for upgrading fees.

Regardless at EVERY corporate store they DO NOT charge for ANY upgrade unless it is the EARLY upgrade option.

It does actually take more than simply moving a SIM card from one phone to another. As an At&t employee, the fee increase is understandable for all the additional capabilities you get today that were not available two years ago. There are fees everywhere, and At&t is being upfront about them. The benefits of the service and the capabilities outweigh the fees.

It's understandable because of all the "additional capabilities?" How much do those "additional capabilities" cost AT&T? Most of the "additional capabilities" that come on AT&T phones are the bloatware, subscription-based garbage that they force onto customers. I had to pay their upgrade fee, root my phone, then go buy an app to freeze the crapware AT&T forced on me. What's more, I would have happily stayed with an old-fashioned phone without the "smart" capabilities. The fact is, AT&T has drastically cut back on the regular phones they offer. My old Motorola Karma was awesome. My daughter's phone was broken, so we had to upgrade. The choices of messaging phones was drastically reduced from two years ago, when we got our last phones. To get anywhere near the same functionality, I was forced to go with an Android-based phone.

I know you want to cover your own ass by being an AT&T apologist, but AT&T is forcing customers towards "smart" phones, their b.s. data plans, and the upgrade fees. I don't even use their damned network for data; I firewalled my phone so apps can only use WiFi. I still have to pay AT&T for their data plan every month, though. They're not victims of some out-of-control drain on their resources. They just want to screw people out of more money.

I agree completely with Acroanidd. This is a crock and people are stupid if they believe it. Just because phones are more sophisticated, that is NO justification for doubling the cost of doing NO extra work!
This stinks and ATT is just finding another way to rip people off.

The kicker is that customers would rather they leave the phones alone and not add bloatware. And then they charge us for it! The same work is required to copy SIM info regardless of the phone.

And Note the timing - right when the Note is being released. They are most likely trying to recoup some of the $9 mill. Superbowl add money they shared with Samsung.

I agree completely with Acroanidd. This is a crock and people are stupid if they believe it. Just because phones are more sophisticated, that is NO justification for doubling the cost of doing NO extra work!
This stinks and ATT is just finding another way to rip people off.

And Note the timing - right when the Note is being released. They are most likely trying to recoup some of the $9 mill. Superbowl add money they shared with Samsung.

"Oh you actually thought we were going to turn your phone on for free???"

AT&T is constantly trying to wring more and more out of their customers with fees.

I've been an at&t customer since 2008 and let mebtell you you speak the truth just canceled 2 lines and no smart phones feature phones guess what 500 dollars yes I got the bill and receipt to prove it and the most sickoning of all was one was out of contract irk whose more evil at&t or a bank if I were at&t I would tell apple go to hell and just sell androids and not scrapyard ones I'm sorry for those I phone geeks but I am anti ios and refuse but I'm so angry between them and paying my insurrance they took my whole tax refund and I need shocks for my truck but I. Ant let those assholes ruin my credit

Apparently not. Didn't you see the thing about needing his refund to pay for shocks for his truck.

Verizon only charges an upgrade fee for doing an annual upgrade, which was a courtesy offered to primary lines and has since been phased out. The only annual upgrades available now are for customers who upgraded before last January 16th and they will be the last ones. The fee varies between $15-20 depending on where you upgrade. Normal two-year upgrades are not charged any type of upgrade fee online or at corporate stores, but authorized and premium retailers are allowed to set their own upgrade fee. It's probably good to get your facts straight.

iPhone sales are up (aka margins are down) and we just lost $4,000,000,000.00 (that's a lot of zeros) to T-Mobile. I guess we will just have to raise upgrade fees and data rates to recover that loss.

Yep, not to mention the 1.9 billion wireless spectrum buy that they had in December to make up for calling off the T mobile buy.

cost more my rear end. It does not cost 100% more. This is more than the normal crap like the fees they charge for text messages which is near 100% profit.

Associated costs with upgrading to a new device? Are you freaking kidding me AT&T? It takes one of your lazy employees 15min to punch some numbers in and move your existing phone number over to a new IMEI. W.T.F.

At&t employees are doing their jobs and I would not categorize someone who is doing their job as lazy. There is more to making sure you have the services you need than just moving your SIM and putting your battery in these days.

I hope there's a similar uproar over this nonsense as there was with the measly $2.00 fee Verizon tried to get away with. $36 to upgrade to a new phone is ridiculous.

Sprint also charges $36. Both Verizon and T-Mobile charge the same, $35.

You might not like the fee doubling, but at least it is now the same as the other carriers.

Ive never stayed long enough with Sprint to find out and Verizon has never charged me to upgrade. Fact check your opinion, please.

Fast check?

It is called facts. I looked it up on all three websites to confirm before I posted.

You are wrong about T-Mobile. It's zero dollars to upgrade. I think you are mixing up the activation fee with the upgrade fee being discussed here. I can't speak for the other carriers as I have been on T-Mobile for a long time.

False... T-Mobile charges $18 uprade fee ($36 new activation fee if that's what you're referring to), but likely will follow suit I'm afraid.

$35 is only the activation fee with VZW and it's only a ONE time fee. You don't have to pay anything for an upgrade unless you're doing an early upgrade option which not all customers have.

As others already pointed out but you seem to have ignored, the Verizon $35 fee is an activation fee for NEW LINES, not upgrades. Established lines are not charged to upgrade unless they are using an early upgrade.

I've been with Verizon for 11 years (2001) and have never been charged 35 dollars for upgrading my phone! Once I got charged 20 dollar activation fee and when I called to complain, Verizon waived the fee.

Yup, right there with ya. I have been with VZW for 15 Years(way back when it was Bell Atlantic Mobile) and have never been charged an upgrade fee. AT&T is crap, always will be and noone can ever convince me otherwise.

Did you go to an authorized retailer?? Because you're only supposed to get charged the $35 one time, and that's when you initially activate the number on VZW service. That $20 is only because you upgraded a year in advance of the original 2 year contract you signed.



So what if his caps are on. Is it really making your ears or eyes hurt? Or are you some web etiquette geek. Its just text font on a screen. I cant imagine it actually making you so weak you are falling apart in your underwear behind your computer.

It does make my eyes hurt. It also makes it more difficult to parse. It doesn't help that there are no paragraphs and a bunch of run-on sentences.

You know these stupid companies will try to add fees to anything that they can get away with. Remember VZ trying to charge money if you didn't sign up for auto recurring payments. But ultimately like in VZ's case if there is enough backlash watch how quickly these companies will say "oh you know what we decided out of the kindness of our hearts we're not going to do add that fee after all".

Difference is that you only paid VZW extra for certain payments.! Not this fee. AT$T needs cash and fast. Best way is Android, heaven forbid we play with Apple.

you guys are all just buttmunches that hate att on a rage, its not a fee simply to activate a phone, its a fee they charge in order for you to get a new phone at a subsidized price although you're in the middle of a contract, I used it a few years ago when I wanted to upgrade my bb curve to a bold, I was in the middle of my contract and they told me theyd sell me the bold at subsidized price for an 18 dollar fee and a 2yr contract extension, quit flaming and read carefully

We know what kinda fee it is and we don't care! That's the whole point to this! Quit charging us stupid fees!

so att shouldnt charge you for the favor of basically lending you money so you can have a new phone even though they already lent you money for the phone you got when you initially got your contract? trust me, I hate these companies as much as you do, but im not just gonna be a flaming unreasonable ass, they dont even have to offer you an early upgrade, you signed the contract, they dont owe you anything

Lend a phone? Monthly fees are already unreasonable. Trying to nickle and dime you to begin with. And that applies to all of the large carriers in some fashion. And I can't believe they want you to pay for a data plan for my phone, tablet and PC. Other than push email, I can only use data on one at a time.

If you want all those services then you're going to have to pay for them. If they're too expensive look elsewhere. Don't sign a contract if you don't agree to the terms.

No, you are the blind flamer! I have never payed a fee for activating a new phone on VZW. Is that hard to understand? Leave AT&T while you can!

Can you please point out to me where it says this fee will only be charged for early upgrades? Because it doesn't. All it says is "upgrades", and a 2-year upgrade is at the end of your subsidized contract, not the middle. You probably had an early upgrade available and whoever you spoke to made it sound like they were going to do you a huge favor for a small fee.

@ivansito26 - You are incorrect. There is no mention of backing out of the middle of a contract here. It is stated above as an upgrade fee.

There is no extra work required. They lied right there.
There is no extra benefit to the customer.
There is no justification for this fee.
End of discussion.

It is white collar thievery.

Been with Sprint for a while now (13years this month) and never been charged an activation fee...EVER. We already paid for the phone brand new, then I don't agree with any kind of fee. I can see a fee you brought in phone you didn't just buy or got off of eBay or something.

18-36 bucks thats quite a big leap. Oh well, as long as I keep unlimited data. And you can get a phone upgrade less than the actual 2 years so...not bad.

Hmm... lets see AT&T rumored to offer the new Lumia 900 on the 18th of the month for 99.00 bucks and now doubling the upgrade fees? Something smells bad here! I'm guessing if you're a long time customer (like me) with 4 lines, you can get that fee waived. I'll let you know.

Except, it's rumored to land on the 18th of MARCH. :p But you do have a point, I'm sure this is just a marketing ploy to make their prices seem "competitive" in the future.

I've been with Verizon Wireless as long as they've been in Houston. I don't recall ever paying an activation or upgrade fee. I recall one being listed. But I think it has always been waived.

AT&T seems to have the attitude that their customers should pay for their failure to merge with T-Mobile, their failure to obtain enough spectrum for LTE, the huge amount of money they pay Apple for the privilege of selling the iPhone, etc. etc.

I used to really respect AT&T. But they've been a bunch of bozos that last couple of years.

"I used to really respect AT&T. But they've been a bunch of bozos that last couple of years."

Not just the last couple of years. Been that way forever and have just gotten worse since.

Hmmm.. can i just buy the phone from them and set it up myself, no fee. Having them transfer my contacts is a waste of time, they copy them to the sim card and since the sim card can only store one number per contact, i lose part of my numbers. Of course, now with google no problem. I wonder if best buy will charge the fee. I no longer buy from at&t because the warranty is too expensive.

No. They don't transfer anything for me. I buy online. All contacts and data are transferred by me. I put the SIM card in. I then call a phone number to activate the phone. I deal entirely with a computer to do this. Still have to pay the activation fee--one for each of my three phones, only one of which is a smart phone. It's nothing about capabilities. It's nothing about the amount of work AT&T employees put in. It's all about the price gouge.

I work at att. You people that are going to call and bitch to have them waived...YOU ARE THE REASON IT IS BEING RAISED. They're raising it to make up lost money on credit whores.

Given your condescending tone and inclination to name calling, I'm going to assume you're not a high level employee at AT&T since this behavior would just be bad PR for them and employees in executive positions would know better. With that said, where did you attain this absolute explanation?

That's just ridiculous. Yeah, that's right. Blame your customers. That's certainly a good way to keep them.

Classy. I work for a Verizon retailer, and you will never see me use this type of language or insult Verizon (or any other carrier's!) customers on this site. It is not a good face to put up for the public, even if no one on here ever finds out where I work.

Shows again that Canadians are being ripped by the Big 3. Last time I upgraded my phone before my contract ended, I had to pay Rogers Wireless $50.

While Americans are going crazy for the price going from $18 to $36. Yes, I do feel your pain that you're being charged for a fee that shouldn't be there at all but at least it isn't $50.

This is not a fair comparison. No one is talking about upgrading before a contract expires, but rather simply upgrading.

We expect fees for chaging terms of a contract. Just as we expect people to get paid for doing their job in the first place, which includes upgrading existing customers.
No fee should be charged at all. This is outrageous.

funny when sprint did this everyone rages and screamed I WANT OUT OF MY CONTRACT !!!!

same thing will happen here some people will jump ship etc etc and majority will accept it and move on.

some of the rage post here are just great though

Their reasoning is total crap, but they'll be in line with Sprint.

I'd respect them a lot more if they'd just cop to doing it because others do.

I upgraded on the 31st of January and got charged $36. :/ I'm guessing their "perfect timing" depends on location. It must have started at the first of the year here. Just my luck... *sigh* oh well

Last time I checked wireless companies were for profit business and not nonprofit organizations. The increase in fee is the cost of doing business to make sure that consumer gets its nice new shiny Toy every chance they want. In contrast to the cable industry, they have increased fees by bounds over the years and we have just accepted them and they haven't brought us any new technologies every six months like the wireless industry has. I am OK with the fee as long as I keep getting advances in my wireless service.

Just another reason to dump them and go with another carrier that doesn't rip you off. These folks need to understand that we the consumer rule the roost and not them. The only way to teach them a lesson is to dent their bottom line. So all you die-hards that left your "tried and true carrier" to get your precious iPhone, here's the payback for that loyalty, suckers...Blame the Apple heads for allowing AT&T to continue as a wireless carrier....

I don't care what anyone says, the upgrade fee is BS. Bascially you're paying AT&T to sign another 2yr contract. The fee has nothing to do with them subsidizing phones. I think it's a way to bring in extra money to cover the cost of the failed merger. The next question is will they still charge that fee if i buy a phone that is not an upgrade to my current one? I guess I'll stick with my captivate till it dies.

Hello sorry i dont feel sorry for you guys with att thay do nothing but lie and take your money thay put that money in there pockits instend of back in to there network thats why verizon is the number on wireless carer here in the usa is becuse thay put that money right back in to the network see att allready mad there millon thay dont care have you seeing the bildings thay have thay look better then the banks . you get for what you pay for junk you bet on att you will lose and lose big . so you guys go ahead stay with them and bitch some more on how you pay for services that you dont get . so wise up and get with a real compeny verizon where thay stend behind there people so when you have a problum its there prolum as well and thay get it fixed in a timelly matter. i never have to worey about if i go there will my phone work or if i lose my phone a replcement is only a phone call away or i can pick up the phone anyhwere and make a call to anyone if you need help or just someone to talk to its allways there

Man, you might have a point in there somewhere. I just can't make it out. Stream-of-consciousness posts without proper capitalization and punctuation are not the easiest things to read. If you can't be bothered to use basic sentence structure, I can't be bothered to read your rantings.

They are a business plain and simple they are here to make money other wise you wouldn't have the capability to talk and txt at the same time the free use of at&t messaging Its easy to forget what you get for the money to pay per month ..roll over.... great service... new inventory of devices... unlimited mobile to ANY mobile all that requires is a 450+ or a 700+ rate plan with the unlimited text package to match ... overall evaluate what is the better deal .. no one said much when mobile insurance went up after a decade...

Unless you are changing your service, there is no reason to go to ATT to move the SIM chip to the new phone. If you take the SI out of your old phone and stick it in the new phone, you will have the exact same service with the new p hone as you had with the old phone.

If however, you are buying the new phone for higher bandwidth, then you will have to pay to upgrade the service.

I am on my third or fourth phone (I forget) using the same SIM card. I am still on the 2G service plan because I don't use the data capabilities on the road much. If I'm doing lots of data transfer, I always opt for WIFI. So even though my phone can do 4g, the SIM card, which contains all my account information, limits it to 2G. Last week, I queried the ATT site to see if I could upgrade. It said my phone was not a smart phone (it's a Nexus One).

So if you buy a new phone and are keeping the same service plan, switch the SIM yourself if you don't want to pay ATT 36 dollars for a 2 minute task.