Home Money Phone Churning: How I Got the Pixel 2 XL for Free

Phone Churning: How I Got the Pixel 2 XL for Free

by Charles

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have just passed us by. I upgraded phones during the holiday sales and found a way to get the Pixel 2 XL for essentially free. I decided this would make a good post to share with others and to think about buying phones differently.

Two Types of Phone Upgraders

There are two types of phone people who upgrade. The ones that upgrade every single year who want the best of the best.

On the other side is the “upgrader” who uses their phone until it literally disintegrate into their hands and have to upgrade out of necessity.

Both of these methods have their faults and what I am proposing is a third type of person. The smart upgrader.

The every year-er usually just buys the phones at full retail price, right when the latest and greatest gets released. The downside? They pay the maximum. (and probably stand in a god awful line)

The upgrade when I absolutely must type person does save money over the every year-er. What they don’t have control over is when their phone decides to stop working or just isn’t functional anymore. So they may not have the best pricing available when they upgrade.

The Third Type: Smart

The smart way is to upgrade every 2 years. Sometimes 1 year is possible but I have found 2 years to be the sweet spot. Usually not much changes in 2 years for cell phones. Also 2 years still allows for one to resell their your old phone, because let’s face it no one wants the iPhone 5 anymore. Anything after that and the price drops dramatically.

This is a key factor in the strategy I will explain as you’ll need to resell your old phone while it still has a decent value. In addition to this, wireless carriers are enacting a pseudo contract where they give you bill credits over 24 months. SWEET!

How I got a free pixel 2 XL

I’ll start with what I did to get my new phone for free.

Around thanksgiving time I kept an eye out for pixel deals. I like to use SLICKDEALS to search for deals coming out. It is a community based deal site where you can search specifically for Pixel 2 in my case. (Download the app, you won’t regret it)

My options were limited as the phone was just released. Some of the example deals were:

  • Verizon – Trade in your old device for a $300 credit. This is just a plain bad deal. The 2 year upgrader still have a phone worth $300, so keep searching for something that doesn’t require device trade-in unless it covers the full cost of the phone.
  • Verizon again – On Black Friday they had a $300 credit, no device trade-in required. This is why I said to wait from the previous deal. I didn’t go with this deal though, as it required a Verizon Unlimited plan which I wasn’t a part of and it would be more expensive to upgrade to. With any carrier deal, know that they usually give you the credit over 24 months in installments. So this wouldn’t save me money in the long run.
  • Target – $200 gift card when you active a new phone on an installment plan on Verizon. Bingo! This was the one for me, you get the gift card upfront and it won’t be distributed across 24 months.

The target deal wasn’t enough for me to make the jump though. My old phone was the iPhone 6s Plus. It had a value of $300 if I were to sell it myself. With the target gift card that brings up my total value to $500.

I wanted the Pixel 2 XL which goes for $850, so I was still short $350 to get the phone for essentially free. If I only wanted the Pixel 2 at $650 my search would most likely be over.

The Missing Piece

I kept searching for deals on slickdeals and signed up for their alerts for keywords that I was looking out for. One such alert came up. It was a deal with Sprint. Get a $350 visa gift card when you bring your own Pixel 2 and sign up for sprint. All you have to do is sign up with Sprint, be in good standing for 60 days then they will send you the gift card.

So my plan came to be. I got the Pixel 2 XL at Target and my $200 Target gift card. Good thing I buy my cat litter here by the truck load.

I sold my iPhone 6s Plus on Swappa for about $300. I checked prices on Craigslist and OfferUP but Swappa phones were listing for higher. It only took me 3 days to sell and the money is already in my bank account. A note about Swappa, they take a $10 selling fee and there is a PayPal selling fee (but use PayPal and play it safe).  In total it was about $15 in fees.

My next step will be to pay off the phone on Verizon and then switch to Sprint for 2 months to collect my $350 gift card. Luckily this one is a visa card so I can use it to pay for just about anything. In total I was able to accumulate $850 dollars and have the latest and greatest at no extra cost to me.

Promo over at Sprint if you are interested in doing the same.

Phone Churning Tips for All

There are some things I have learned while doing this and some tips on what to look out for.

  1. Always buy the base memory size phone. Upgrading to a larger memory size phone usually costs you an extra $100. When you go to resell, that extra memory size only gets you about an extra $30 dollars. It’s much harder to churn if you go for the larger GB.
  2. The smaller version phone of the model you want is easier to churn with. The Pixel 2 is $200 cheaper than the XL, yet they give you the same credit or gift card no matter what size you buy. That $200 upgrade cost will only equal about a $60 difference in resale. I would of actually made close to $200 if I upgraded to the Pixel 2 rather than the XL.
  3. iPhones are easier to churn with. They just simply resell for higher and it makes it that much easier. Apple fans rejoice! Consumerism is working for you this time.
  4. Carrier deals – make sure to read the fine print. Any carrier that offers a discount will more than likely break up the credit over 24 months. This isn’t always a bad deal though. I like Verizon and if they had a deal this time around that I liked, I would have no problem sticking with them another 2 years.
  5. Don’t do the phone trade-in deals unless the credit is worth more than what you can sell your old phone for on your own.  Personally, I will only do the phone trade-in deals if they give you a $650 credit. This was common last year and it might show up again in December.
  6. Look at multiple carriers for switching deals. Carriers are constantly offering incentives for switching to them. Sprint in this example is giving a $350 gift card which was necessary for my plan.

There you have it, it’s still not too late to grab yourself a similar deal. The deals for phones spring up the week of Christmas as well.

Share in the comments if you have any cool strategies for upgrading phones.

Happy phone hunting!

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