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.