How To Save Money on iPhone 5 Upgrade With Your AT&T Family Plan

iPhone 5

Last week, we told you that you how to check your upgrade eligibility if you were planning to buy iPhone 5. At that time,  some readers pointed out that if you’re on AT&T’s family plan, you can save money by buying the iPhone 5 using any phone number that is eligible for an upgrade.

AT&T even has a support page where it provides instructions on how to use the upgrade eligible number to activate your new iPhone 5 on a different mobile number when it arrives.

Here are the instructions to use an upgrade eligible number to activate your new iPhone 5 on a different mobile number:

iPhone 5 comes with a nano SIM card pre-installed. This nano SIM will be activated to the upgrade eligible phone number that you used to place your order. If that is the same phone number you plan to use with your iPhone, you are all set. Just follow the step-by-step activation instructions that arrive with your shipment.

However, if the number you used to order your device is NOT the number you intend to use with your iPhone, follow these simple steps when your device arrives and an AT&T representative will help you activate.

  1. Charge your device if needed
  2. Contact AT&T at 1-800-331-0500 or 611 from a different wireless device. At the prompt, enter the wireless number that you used to place your iPhone order.
  3. At the next prompt, choose option #2 to activate your phone on a different mobile number, and an AT&T representative will help you from there.
  4. After speaking with an AT&T representative, turn on your iPhone, follow the on screen instructions and choose a Wi-Fi network. If Wi-Fi is not available, connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC with iTunes ( and follow the on-screen instructions.

Please call 1-800-331-0500 or 611 from a wireless phone if you have additional questions. We’re here to help ensure you have a great experience with your iPhone.    

That seems fairly straightforward. AT&T encourages customers to do this (and hence the support page) and is not a loop hole as it locks the upgrade eligible number for a two year contract. So it is a win-win situation for AT&T and the customer.

We’ve also received a tip that Verizon customers with family plans can use a similar approach to save money on an early upgrade and also keep the unlimited data plan (remember Verizon iPhone 5 on unlimited data plans are no longer subsidized). However, we haven’t been able to verify it or find the instructions on Verizon’s website on how to do it. If you are a Verizon customer and managed to do it, please let us know in the comments below.

This is applicable not just for iPhone 5, but if you’re planning to upgrade to iPhone 4S or iPhone 4 as well. It also goes without saying that this works if not everyone in your family wants to upgrade to a new phone like you.

Hope this helps. Please don’t forget to tell us how it goes in the comments.

[AT&T via iDB]


Check out our iPhone 5 category page to find out everything you need to know about Apple’s new iPhone.

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  • Jose Carlo

    Does anyone knows how to pre order a factory unlocked iPhone 5?? The option doesn’t shows up on Apple US website

    • Michael

      I think you’re going to have to wait a month or two like last time.

    • iPhoneHacks

      The factory unlocked iPhone 4s was available after almost 4 weeks last year, so expect an unlocked iPhone 5 only in the second half of October.

      • Eric Mar (Macdaddy93)

        why is there unlocked versions on ebay then? how?

        • iPhoneHacks

          Factory unlocked iPhone 5 is available in all launch countries except for U.S. and Japan.

        • Chris

          The iPhone 5 is probably sold unlocked in other countries right from the release date because there’s no carrier subsidies in certain countries. A friend of mine is from United Arab Emirates and she says there’s no such thing as locked phones where you pay less by signing a new 2-year contract in UAE. Be careful if you buy one of those though, there’s a rumor that the Non-US Unlocked iPhone 5 won’t work on AT&T’s LTE because AT&T uses a different band of LTE then most carriers. Here’s the way to get an unlocked iPhone 5 without really having to wait a month (I did this for iPhone 4S and plan to do it again for iPhone 5): Buy the locked AT&T iPhone 5 this Friday when it comes out but make sure the Apple specialist sells it to you without it being associated with your contract (so it doesn’t somehow accidentally lock you into a new 2-year agreement). Then, return that phone 30 days later and buy the unlocked one.

  • andi26

    I’ve been doing this for iPhone for awhile saved a lot lol

  • Hatori Hanzo

    I think you should provide the link to the AT&T page you mentioned above.

  • Hatori Hanzo

    Whoops never mind I see it now

  • md6597

    I’ve been upgrading to a new suspidized iPhone every year doing this. One year use my upgrade the next year I steal my wife’s. She gets my old phone.

  • ceebee100

    Be careful with this cross upgrade with AT&T. I’m on the phone right now and the rep is telling me that she is not able to do the cross upgrade because the iPhone 5 was registered under my wife’s number and she would have to activate it first, then deactivate it and reactivate my number! Just a bunch of bull!!

  • Boss

    could you pleaseee tell me – how we save some money with this cross upgrade??? Thaks