Buying Off Contract, What You Need To Know

Posted at 10:25 PM, Nov 12, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-12 22:29:40-05

Tuesday Google/LG’s Nexus 4 goes on sale in the PlayStore.  It’s $299 off contract.  It’s a heck of a deal for those of you who are looking to upgrade, but don’t want to extend your contract.  Heck of a deal unless you have Verizon, since the Nexus 4 doesn’t have LTE.  So what do you do if you’re on Big Red and want to upgrade but don’t want to renew your contract or perhaps lose your grandfathered unlimited data plan?  I’ve got some suggestions!

Before you start shopping on eBay – take a look at Swappa.  The tag line is “Buy and sell gently used Android devices with Swappa”.  I bought my Galaxy Nexus this way and kept my unlimited VZW plan.  They list a ton of phones and tablets!  And not just for VZW!  AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint too!  It’s worth a look if you’re trying to buy off contract and don’t want to pay the full price for a phone.

Now if you do want to try to buy a phone off eBay – make sure you get the ESN number from the seller!  This is the number assigned to the phone and if it’s bad – you won’t be able to activate it on a carrier’s network.  ESN go bad when phones are reported stolen or the account goes into bad standings.  Verizon is great about being able to check ESN numbers. (I was able to check them online)  I don’t know about Sprint/AT&T/T-Mobile since I’ve never dealt with those companies. 

Another possibility is checking Craigslist.  I’ve sold/bought a couple of phones that way.  Here’s my suggestion – make sure you meet the seller at the store so you can be sure the phone can be activated on your account.  It’s not that I don’t trust people, but you can never be too sure.  And please, please don’t meet someone at a random place to make the deal.  It’s just not safe. 

All three are good ways of getting a new-to-you phone without having to renew/extend your contract.  Just be cautious and ask questions.

Speaking of questions – if you have them, post them below or tweet me @Doctor_Droid.