Ultimately, the choice between the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program and Apple Card Monthly Installments is flexibility. The former allows you to buy a new phone more often, but you'll need to commit yourself to one carrier for at least six months. The latter gives you the flexibility of not being tied to a carrier. You also don't need to purchase AppleCare+, though it's strongly advised.
Early adopters will want to use the iPhone Upgrade Program
We are all pretty much early adopters here at iMore, and I know there are plenty of people out there who also like to get the latest and greatest every year. That's why we think the iPhone Upgrade Program is the better for these folks. Still, there are pros and cons to both options when the time comes to buy a new iPhone in 2020.
|iPhone Upgrade Program||Apple Card Monthly Installments|
|Cost||Starting at $29.12/mo for iPhone 12 mini||Starting at $29.12/mo for iPhone 12 mini|
|Credit check||Yes||No (unless you're new to Apple Card)|
|Interest||Zero, same as cash||Zero, same as cash|
|Late fees charged||Yes||No|
|Loan length||24 months||Not a loan; 24 equal installments|
|Upgrade time||After six months, 12 payments||After 24 payments (unless paid off early)|
|Bank||Citizens One||Goldman Sachs Bank USA|
|Availability||US, UK, China||US only|
|AppleCare+||Included and required||Optional|
|Carrier||Locked in for 6 months and 12 payments||Not locked to a carrier at any time.|
|Eligible for Apple Card 3% Daily Cash||Yes||Yes|
|Devices you can buy with||iPhone 12 mini
iPhone 12 Pro
iPhone 12 Pro Max
|iPhone 12 mini
iPhone 12 Pro
iPhone 12 Pro Max
While we think the biggest reason to go with the iPhone Upgrade Program is the upgrade part, there are some more benefits over Apple Card Monthly Installments.
First, if you decide not to upgrade, you can still pay off the rest, and you'll get to keep the phone. So the upgrade part is entirely optional, but it's a huge perk. And upgrades can be done once you have made 12 payments (or even as early as six months by paying off the other six months worth of your loan), and you get a new iPhone financing loan once trading in the old phone and obtaining the new one.
You get extra peace of mind
The iPhone Upgrade Program also includes AppleCare+, which is always good to have because accidents happen. It's just a few bucks more each month, and you only get extra peace of mind. There's not much downside there, especially if you usually get AppleCare+ anyways. It extends the coverage on your iPhone for another two years on top of the standard warranty.
But if you go with the Apple Card Monthly Payments and decide to get AppleCare+ later, you can get it separately, and Apple does offer payment plans for AppleCare+ now, which is nice.
The iPhone Upgrade Program is available in more places
The iPhone Upgrade Program is an option in the US, UK, and China. Apple Card Monthly Installments, like Apple Card itself, is currently only in the US.
Upgrade every year
Apple iPhone Upgrade Program
A new iPhone every year
The iPhone Upgrade Program is our preferred iPhone financing program. You can upgrade every year or not, and it includes AppleCare+. There is no interest, and it's available in the US, UK, and China.
Apple Card Monthly Installments
In the US only, you can elect to buy your new iPhone through Apple Card Monthly Payments. When you do, you don't need to select a carrier right away, and you can change carriers at any time. Still, you can't upgrade unless to make 24 equal payments.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.