Upgrade every year

Apple iPhone Upgrade Program

Longer haul

Apple Card Monthly Installments

The Apple iPhone Upgrade Program is designed for those who upgrade every year. It includes AppleCare+ in the cost, and there is no interest, plus you can upgrade just after 12 months (or six, if you make another six months worth of payment at the time).

From $35.33/month at Apple

Pros

  • Great if you plan on upgrading every year
  • No interest
  • Upgrade after six months/12 payments, resets loan
  • Available in US, UK, and China
  • Still available: 3% Daily Cashback with Apple Card, when applicable

Cons

  • AppleCare+ not optional
  • Can't switch carriers for 12 months
  • Requires credit check (usually soft pull)

Through the Apple Card Monthly Installments plan, you have more flexibility when it comes to carriers. At no time is your phone tied to a carrier. You can buy a device SIM-free. However, you can't upgrade this phone until you make your 24 monthly payments, or it's paid in full.

From $29.12/month at Apple

Pros

  • AppleCare+ is optional
  • No interest
  • 3% Daily Cash
  • No credit check if you already have an Apple Card
  • Can change carriers at any time

Cons

  • Limited to the US only
  • 24 monthly installments, can't upgrade until paid-in-full

Ultimately, the choice between the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program and Apple Card Monthly Installments is flexibility. The former gives you the flexibility of buying 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

iPhone SE 2020Source: Apple

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.

iPhone Upgrade Program Apple Card Monthly Installments
Cost Starting at $35.32/mo for iPhone 11 Starting at $29.12/mo for iPhone 11
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
Minimum age 18 18
AppleCare+ Included and required Optional
Carrier Locked in for 6 months and 12 payments Not locked to carrier at any time.
Eligible for Apple Card 3% Daily Cash Yes Yes
Devices you can buy with iPhone 11
iPhone 11 Pro
iPhone 11 Pro Max
iPhone XR
iPhone SE (2020)
iPhone 11
iPhone 11 Pro
iPhone 11 Pro Max

While we think the biggest reason to go with the iPhone Upgrade Program is the upgrade part, there are some more benefits to it over Apple Card Monthly Installments.

First, if you decide not to upgrade, you can still just 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 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.

Carrier flexibility

Apple Card Monthly Installments

Another solution

In the US only, you can elect to by 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.

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