Apple has launched its new iPhone for this year. Are you ready for it even costs you an arm and a leg? However, the thing is how to buy a cheapest one and save money. We introduced some methods to buy an iPhone in the previous post What Is the Best Way to Buy an iPhone (Introduction). This post would elaborately analyze these methods by comparison, like buying an iPhone 6s/6s Plus now, updating an iPhone every year or every 2 years, having no need for a newest one and employing which method when bringing an iPhone to China.
- Limited Time! You will earn 11%~11.5% cash back for in-store purchases by using Discover Credit Card via Apple Pay before 2015.12.31. New cardholders and those enrolled in double cash back offer in the first year will earn 22%~23% in total!
- New! Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program: upgrade to the latest iPhone every year on monthly installments, AppleCare+ fees included.
- Citi AT&T Access More：Save $650 immediately. It is confirmed that you can get the iPhone 6s (Plus) at the same time when it is open for pre-order on Apple official website!
- AmEx Card: Purchasing with AmEx credit card is your best choice if extended warranty is your priority.
- Discover Deals：12% Off!
- Apple Store Gift Cards：5%~6% Off!
Furthermore, down payment plans with AT&T Next represented have been launched. These plans are similar to iPhone Upgrade Program , which will be compared later.
1. Buy iPhone 6s / 6s Plus Now
If you intend to buy an iPhone 6s/6s Plus without considering upgrading your iPhone regularly, there are two tempting methods prepared for you. Apple Pay + Discover credit card for 22%~23% cash back (referring to Discover + Apple Pay = 22%, 23% or 30% Cash Back! For details), and Citi AT&T Access More for $650 cash back as a sign-up bonus.
Apple Pay + Discover needs a device supporting Apple Pay (iPhone 6 / 6 plus) and a Discover credit card enrolled in Double Cash Back offer (newly approved cards are enrolled automatically). Even you are not enrolled in the Double Cash Back offer, a cash back rate at 11% by Apple Pay + Discover is also worthy of tempting. Attention: this offer only remains effect before 2015.12.31.
Here is a detailed review for Citi AT&T Access More. If you are a cardholder or want to sign up for an AT&T cardholder, it’s a good idea: an iPhone as sign-up bonus.
2. Update an iPhone Every Year
The above method utilizes the sign-up bonus of Citi AT&T Access More, but it is not available for those buying newest versions every year (but it’s ok to use once a year or two). Discover Deals offers fair cash back credit (6% for existing cardholders, 12% for new cardholders enrolled the first year), but newest iPhones are usually included half a year later. As a result, it also not goes especially well with those always wanting for a newest iPhone. Here we mainly compare it with the others.
You should note that an iPhone excluded from Update Program can be traded-in one year later if in good condition. The trade-in value of Apple’s official partner is $325 (iPhone 6 64G), while third parties like Gazelle and NextWorth may offer up to $355 (an extremely good condition is required). The official $325 trade-in value that can be easily met is hereby adopted.
A spending comparison of these methods is given below. In this comparison, iPhone 6s 64G with original price of $749 is acted as an example, prices presented herein are all pre-tax prices, and all cash back percentages are all prominent estimated values.
- iPhone Upgrade Program：$36.58/month x 12months = $439.
- AT&T Next 12：$37.45/month x 12months – (2% cash back) = $440.
- AmEx Credit Cards：$749 – (2% cash back) – ($325 trade-in value) = $409.
- Apple Store Gift Cards：$749 – (5% cash back) – ($325 trade-in value) = $386.
AppleCare+ of iPhone Upgrade Program provides a limit of two accidental damage claims over the warranty period with a service fee of $99 for iPhone 6s / 6s plus and $79 for other versions for each time. In addition to this, both Apple and other channels like AT&T provide one-year warranty, so there’s no significant difference in warranty. It is worth mentioning that, an iPhone purchased by AmEx credit card will enjoy a pretty good purchase protection, which can see details in Credit Card Perks Summaries: Purchase Protection for you even part of the amount is paid by this method, but the compensation amount will not exceed the amount paid by AmEx.
Based on the above comparison, for those who update their iPhones every year:
For the price, Apple Store Gift Card purchased by supermarket card> AmEx credit card > iPhone Upgrade Program ~ AT&T Next 12;
For the warranty, iPhone Upgrade Program (a limit of two accidental damage claims over the warranty period with fees, but without any time limit) ~ AmEx credit card (purchase protection for the first three months for free) > Apple Store Gift Cards purchased by supermarket card ~ AT&T Next 12.
So for those who update their iPhones every year, Apple Store Gift Cards purchased by supermarket card is the most economical choice. Although iPhone Upgrade Program and AmEx credit card spend more money, they provide better purchase protections. The choice depends on whether you need these purchase protections or not.
3. Update an iPhone Every 2 Years
For those who update their iPhones every 2 years, the craziest method is to apply for a new Citi AT&T Access More every 2 years to enjoy the offer for reduction of $650. You should cancel it within half a year (the sign-up bonus can be earned again after 18 months of your cancellation) and repeat such action. As easy but rude, this method costs only an annual fee of approximately $100. Of course, chances are that Citi may change its policy at any time, but we do not elaborate that issue here. Discover Deals usually includes the newest iPhone after half a year, which goes especially well with those always wanting for a newest iPhone. For this reason, it is thus eliminated from our consideration.
For the price, we use the trade-in value of iPhone 5s 64G offered by Apple’s official partner two years ago, $165 for good maintained ones. We still take iPhone 6s 64G with original value of $749 as an example to calculate net cost of several methods as below. The prices used herein are all pre-tax prices, and all the cash back percentages are all prominent estimated values.
- iPhone Upgrade Program：$36.58/month x 24months – ($165 trade-in value) = $713.
- AT&T Next 24：$24.97/month x 24months – (2% cash back) = $587.
- AT&T Next 18：$31.21/month x 24months – (2% cash back) – ($165 trade-in value) = $569.
- AT&T Next 12：$37.45/month x 20months – (2% cash back) – ($165 trade-in value) = $569.
- AmEx Credit Cards：$749 – (2% cash back) – ($165 trade-in value) = $569.
- Apple Store Gift Cards：$749 – (5% cash back) – ($165 trade-in value) = $546.
From above, we can see that iPhone Upgrade Program spends more money than the others. This plan is actually to purchase both the unlocked iPhone and AppleCare+, so it is equivalent to purchase another year’s warranty and accidental damage warranty.
For the warranty, iPhone Upgrade Program provides the warranty of the second year and limit of two accidental damage claims what you $129 spent for. An iPhone by the AmEx credit card enjoys an extended warranty in the second year (although it is not as convenient as Apple, there’s no significant difference in the warranty, referring to the Credit Card Perks Summaries: Extended Warranty for details), and a purchase protection within 90 days before such purchase. An iPhone by AT&T Next and Apple Store Gift Cards only provides the default warranty for the first year.
From the above comparison, for those who update their iPhones every 2 years:
For the price, Apple Store Gift Card purchased by supermarket card > AmEx credit card = AT&T Next > iPhone Upgrade Program;
For the warranty, iPhone Upgrade Program > AmEx credit card > Apple Store Gift Card purchased by supermarket card ~ AT&T Next.
So for those who update their iPhones every 2 years, there is little doubt that AmEx credit card is the most appropriate choice. It spends a little more money but earns another year’s warranty.
4. No Need to Buy the Newest iPhone
For those who have no need for a newest iPhone now, the analysis above still applies. But you can get a third choice: Discover Deals. To put it simply, as a way with highest cost performance, an iPhone purchased by Discover Deals can enjoy the discount as by Apple Store Gift Cards, ranking only second to the warranty of AmEx credit card (although its warranty terms are similar to that of AmEx, but not that gorgeous). New cardholders can have double all cash back you’ve earned in your first year, in other words, you can earn 12% cash back on purchase of iPhone by Discover Deals in the first year! Readers who cannot purchase by Apple Pay + Discover could consider this method.
5. Buy an iPhone for Chinese Friends and Relatives
(This part is for Chinese readers.) A significant minority of people received a “task” to bring an iPhone when returned to China. Most iPhones brought for domestic friends and relatives only have one-year warranty, so we mainly take the price factor into consideration. It can be seen from the above comparison, employing the Apple Pay + Discover before 2015.12.31 is undoubtedly a method with highest discount. Besides, both Discover Deals and Apple Store Gift Card are pretty good choices, particularly, Discover’s double cash back offer in the first year is very suitable for those buying iPhones for domestic friends and relatives.
You should note that, all the US unlocked versions of iPhone 6s/6s plus are perfectly suitable for networks of CMCC/Unicom/Telecom, only the AT&T unlocked version is not available for 2G/3G of Telecom. Look up How to Choose the Correct Carrier for iPhone for details.
Through comparison, we can give an optimum means of purchase under the following five conditions:
- Buy an iPhone 6s / 6s Plus now: you can earn 22%~23% cash back by using Apple Pay + Discover before 2015.12.31 and $650 cash back by applying for Citi AT&T Access More. Both of them are excellent choices for purchasing iPhone 6s / 6s Plus recently!
- Update a newest iPhone every year: Apple Store Gift Cards purchased by supermarket card is the most economical choice. Although iPhone Upgrade Program and AmEx credit card speed more money, they provide better purchase protections. The choice depends on whether you need these purchase protections or not.
- Update a newest iPhone every 2 years: there is little doubt that AmEx credit card is an ideal choice. It spends a little more money but earns another year’s warranty.
- No need to purchase the newest iPhone: other than purchasing by using Apple Pay + Discover before 2015.12.31, Discover Deals is a way of highest cost performance. It depends on personal usage habits whether to spend more money by AmEx credit card or iPhone Upgrade Program for a better warranty.
- Buy an iPhone for Chinese friends and relatives: other than purchasing by Apple Pay + Discover before 2015.12.31, Discover Deals and Apple Store Gift Card purchased by supermarket card are choices of highest discount. Nevertheless, please pay your attention to the appropriate versions.