How to buy iPhone X without breaking the bank

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iPhone X on its box
Just in time for new iPhone upgrades this fall!
Photo: Apple

iPhone X is Apple’s most expensive smartphone to date, with the cheapest 64GB model priced at $999, and the 256GB model priced at $1,149.

That’s $50 more than a 21-inch iMac. However, you don’t have to go hungry for the next few months to afford one. Here’s how to save money and get your hands on iPhone X without breaking the bank.

Do yourself a favor: Don’t settle for the more affordable iPhone 8. Sure, it has wireless charging and Apple’s exciting new A11 Bionic chip. But the experience will be all too similar to that of iPhone 7, which will become significantly more affordable in coming months.

If you’re going to upgrade, go for the iPhone X. Don’t worry too much about the upfront cost — because you don’t have to pay for it upfront. There’s an easy way to pay for it monthly, at 0 percent interest, and save yourself a considerable wad of cash.

iPhone Upgrade Program

You may already be signed up to the iPhone Upgrade Program, but if you’re not, now is the time to consider it. It lets you spread out the cost of your iPhone X — and AppleCare+ coverage — over 24 months. That means you won’t pay a hefty upfront fee.

Prices start at $49.91 a month for a 64GB iPhone X, and rise to $56.16 a month for the 256GB model. Over two years, this comes to a total of $1,197.84 or $1,347.84 respectively. Yes, that’s more expensive than iPhone X’s upfront cost, but you won’t actually pay all that.

You see, the beauty of the iPhone Upgrade Program is that it lets you upgrade your handset every 12 months. So, although the cost of iPhone X is spread out over two years, you will pay for it for just one. Then you’ll upgrade to whatever comes next.

Technically, you’ll only pay $598.92 for a 64GB iPhone X, and $673.92 for a 256GB model, for one year. The rest of what you owe is written off when you trade in your device and upgrade to iPhone XI, iPhone Xs or whatever the successor will be named.

iPhone X
iPhone X sports a stunning Super Retina display.
Photo: Apple

Sure, over time, Apple still makes just as much money as it would have if you bought your handset outright on launch day. But if you typically buy the new iPhone every year without fail, this is by far the best way to do it.

It lets you sidestep the mammoth fee you cough up every September — which is likely only going to rise, based on current trends — and pay manageable monthly fees instead.

And in case you missed it earlier, AppleCare+ (worth $200 alone) comes bundled with every iPhone sold through the Upgrade Program. You’ll get display, liquid and accidental damage coverage (up to two incidents) for the life of the phone.

How to sign up for iPhone Upgrade Program

Joining the iPhone Upgrade Program is simple (as long as you have a decent credit rating). There are a couple of ways to go about it.

If you want the best possible chance of getting an iPhone X on launch day, November 3, you’ll want to sign up online as soon as pre-orders go live. You can use the apple.com website, or the Apple Store app on an iOS device.

Simply select iPhone X, and choose the color, carrier and capacity you want. Then use iPhone Upgrade Program as your payment option at checkout.

iPhone X
iPhone X is worth the hefty price tag.
Photo: Apple

You’ll need to make sure you have a few things ready before you do this. Apple requires your carrier account details if you already have a wireless account you wish to continue using. And you’ll need to enter all your personal information for a credit check.

This includes your Social Security number, date of birth, and two forms of identification. This can be a driver’s license or state-issued ID, along with a military ID, utility bill, passport, or birth certificate. Apple also requires a valid U.S. credit (not debit) card.

If you can wait a little longer for iPhone X, you can join the Upgrade Program at your nearest Apple store when the device goes on sale November 3. Remember to take all the information and documents you need to ensure you don’t walk away empty-handed.

How to upgrade your iPhone

If you’re already a member of the iPhone Upgrade Program and you want to upgrade to iPhone X, you should start by checking your upgrade eligibility. As long as you’ve made the equivalent of at least 12 monthly payments, you should be good to go.

You can then pre-order your iPhone X online, just as you would if you were a new customer, or buy it in an Apple store when sales start. Again, you’ll need your carrier details, and the same Social Security number you used when you signed up.

wireless charging mat iPhone x
You’ll want AirPower, too, but that won’t arrive until next year.
Photo: Apple

To speed up the pre-order process, you can get preapproval for your upgrade ahead of time. Simply visit the iPhone Upgrade Program webpage, then follow the “Check upgrade eligibility” link. Sadly, this isn’t an option if you’re a new customer.

Once you have your iPhone X, you’ll need to return your old handset to Apple. If you upgraded online, you’ll receive a Trade-in Kit that lets you send it back in the mail. If you upgraded in store, you can hand back your old device there and then.

Other things you need to know

Apple says that “availability for the new iPhone is determined on a first-come, first-served basis as pre-orders are placed.” That means that if you want one on launch day, you’ll need to claim yours as quickly as possible after pre-orders go live on October 27.

You don’t get special treatment if you’re an existing iPhone Upgrade Program customer.

If you’re an existing customer but haven’t yet made 12 monthly payments, you’ll have the option to pay an additional amount to make up for it when you upgrade.

If you just bought a new iPhone and you want iPhone X instead, you can return your purchase to Apple within 14 days. Simply visit an Apple store, or call 1-800-MY-APPLE.

If you already have a wireless plan, you can continue using it with iPhone X. Apple will activate it on your existing account with AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon, and you’ll retain the same number and rate. If you’re with T-Mobile, you’ll need to call them later to complete this process.

iPhone X camera
iPhone X arrives November 3.
Photo: Apple

If you already have an installment plan with a carrier, you can still apply to join the iPhone Upgrade Program. However, Apple reminds you that “you are still responsible for honoring any existing commitments.”

If you don’t have a wireless plan already, you can sign up for one when you order iPhone X, or continue without one and sign up later. Handsets purchased through the iPhone Upgrade Program are unlocked, which means you can switch carriers whenever you like.

Before you receive your iPhone X in the mail, or leave to collect it from an Apple store, back up your existing device to iCloud or your computer. You’ll need this later when you want to restore your data. Apple won’t do it for you.

In the United States, the iPhone Upgrade Program is financed through Citizens One, Apple’s official financing partner. Citizens One carries out your credit check to determine loan eligibility, and received the payments from your account every month.