Check AT&T iPhone Upgrade Eligibility

Jun 7, 2010 - 54 Comments

Check iPhone upgrade eligibility

Have you ever wanted to know how you can check to see if your AT&T account is eligible for an iPhone upgrade? You can instantly check your AT&T iPhone upgrade eligibility by dialing a simple short code on your phone.

This is super easy, here is how you can check your iPhone upgrade eligibility with AT&T:

  1. Open the “Phone” app on your iPhone and go to the number keypad
  2. Dial *639# and press the call button
  3. Wait a moment and you will get a text message from AT&T notifying you of your iPhone upgrade eligibility

A text message will arrive to the iPhone letting you know what the upgrade eligibility status of the phone and line is.

Now here’s the interesting part, many people seem to be pushed into the upgrade option if there is a newly released iPhone. Usually this means signing a contract, or trading in the old phone, but it varies per plan.

Assuming you’re eligible (everyone I know who has tested this has been, all waiving the $18 fee), you’ll get a text that says something like the following:

As a valued customer, we can offer you an upgrade with a new 2-yr commitment and waive the $18 upgrade fee

Or you might see an upgrade eligibility text that says something like this:

This line is upgrade eligible. Before upgrading your phone, be sure to back it up to make it easier to transfer content to your new phone. Go to Settings on your phone to learn how.

If the phone is upgrade eligible, you can get the new iPhone upgrade through AT&T, an authorized retailer, or through Apple.

iphone att upgrade eligibility

For example, according to Steve Jobs at WWDC in 2010, if your AT&T contract expireed anytime in 2010, you were eligible for an iPhone 4 upgrade. Maybe it’s because I’m a graphics nerd, but the A4 processor combined with the new iPhone 4G increased screen resolution and pixel density really tempted me to that upgrade… and I regularly get a new iPhone anytime it’s released because of my interest in being an early adopter plus my job.

If you’re curious, check out the iPhone availability and pricing for the model you are interested in, then see if you’re eligible for an upgrade. If the iPhone is subsidized they usually start around $199 with a renewed AT&T contract, otherwise the monthly payment plans are often $15 a month or so tacked onto a normal bill. It varies, so dial that *639# number to find out!


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, News, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Okulary says:

    …so i bought my 4 the day it came out, but it’s telling me i’m eligible on 11/25/2011? I’ve been eligible for the last 2 iPhone releases, why are they now enforcing the 20 month law?

  2. […] you can likely renew the contract and get a new phone, but be sure to look at your contract and check iPhone 4 upgrade eligibility. stLight.options({ publisher:'fe5e0a84-1fac-40de-8014-9f89fc1cbe6a' […]

  3. kelley says:

    what the hell is an iphone 4G? oh you mean an iphone 4? the same iphone that ONLY 3G. “3G,4G” are internet speeds.

  4. Ed says:

    I am up for renewal and as “a valued customer” I will get full discount and I have to pay $299 for the 32gb. That is the same price as any new customer has to pay for the iPhone.
    In my view that is not a discount at all, it’s more of a scam.
    Correct me if I’m wrong.

  5. Donald says:

    Also, I have 9months left on my contract before my original 2yr contract is up and I am still eligible for the $18 upgrade fees waive

  6. Donald says:

    I heard that they were going to increase the amount from $18 to a little more offered back. The AT&T rep didn’t exactly know the amount but in a month or two the $18 will increase.

  7. Akasha says:

    Other people got their iPhones fixed because they prolly had insurence on it. But if you do not have an insurence plan on your iPhone then you will HAVE to repurchase a new one. Because their is really nothing you can do about it. But where I live there are some people who fix and damages to iPhones….Just saying.
    Also, I’m very confused. I did this and my text said the same thing but no waivering. What does that mean?
    Do I pay 199/299 for my iPhone4 plus an additional 18fee. Then have to wait 2years until I can get anyother type of phone with AT&T???
    And BTW droids SUCK! (:

  8. Mauricio Feijo says:

    Back to this thread to say: DON’T BUY THE NEW IPHONE!!! It’s truly is a scam. Unbelievable that Apple would come out so low like this. The “aluminum silicate” glass back broke on the first 6 days, of a very slow, low height drop. Apple told me to go fu*k myself. Damages are not covered. Period. I read other people on the web saying Apple replaced their broken phones. Not sure what they did, but I went 3 times to different stores, and the answer was the same: NO! BUY A NEW PHONE! So, my apologies for raving about this product. Apple died for me. It’s over.

    • Captain Obvious says:

      So let me get this straight – you broke your iPhone because you dropped it and now you think the entire product line and company is a scam? LOL maybe you shouldn’t drop your phone next time! Electronics break when dropped.

  9. […] the $18 fee is waived for many people who’s contract expires anytime in 2010. You can check your AT&T iPhone upgrade eligibility to find out your contract eligibility and if the fee applies to you. The above applies to those […]

  10. Deb says:

    Well my text from AT&T said they would waive the upgrade fee, so I ordered iPhone 4. Now I have a customer service summary that has the upgrade fee and when I complained Cindy Gatlin from AT&T said they cannot waive the upgrade fee. Confused ! Has anyone else experienced this ?

  11. Sam says:

    Well I just tried this and it looks as if they have changed it to the following text: “As a valued customer, we can offer you an upgrade with a new 2-yr commitment and an $18 upgrade fee” They seem to have changed it…:(

  12. Tony says:

    What really sucks is that I have a 3G and want to upgrade to iPhone 4. Being told that I’m not eligible to get it at the $299 price (for the 32-gig) after January next year. To get it now, it’ll cost me $499. Screw it, I’m just pissed off enough to switch to the Android EVO and eat the cost of my remaining ATT contract.

  13. Jonathan says:

    So I was wondering about something. As of now I am not eligible for an upgrade. However, two other members in my family also have iphones(3g iphone) and they are both eligible for the upgrade. Is it possible to just buy the iphone 4 under their account and then sync it to the backup of my phone on the computer? Would it work that way? Thank you very much for any response on this!

    • Paul H says:

      Jonathan, yes that will work just fine, just remember the two devices use different sim cards (3gs has a larger sim than iPhone 4) so you’ll have to get the newer smaller sim for iPhone 4.

      I know many people who are doing exactly what you describe though!

      • Jonathan says:

        I can’t thank you enough for your reply! It makes me so happy to hear this! So all I would have to do is get the new phone, then take my old sim card in and get it changed to the new micro version? Would they ask why I am getting the sim card changed or would they just do it without question. haha. Thanks again!

        • Paul H says:

          AT&T should do it without problem, I don’t know about other carriers though. They may ask but I doubt they’d care since you’re still in contract. You’re just switching out the phone, no big deal.

          • Jonathan says:

            Good point. Thanks again for all of your help! I am just figuring out a way to get the phone at the $199 price now. Just need to preorder it under my family members name.

      • amanda says:

        My whole family played musical phone plans to get the Iphone 3GS, just like you want to. Make sure that they person whose eligible line your stealing for the upgrade gets their messages, they had to reset both the voicemails in order to do this. Its usually no big deal, but the other person should know that they will need to set up their VM again.

  14. Lawrence says:

    I bought my 3GS on the day it came out. I just called today and they said a 16GB would cost me $199 with a one-time $18 upgrade fee. My email from Apple said it would cost $599, so the ATT guy noted my account with the $199 price and advised me to go into an ATT store to get that lower price.

  15. Luckyboi says:

    I was eligable for a iPhone 4 upgrade but have problem the iPhone 4 gets released on the 24th of June but my monthly bill is due on the 21st so do I have to pay my bill before I can upgrade to the iPhone 4 at the 199$ price?

  16. […] in contract and you want the newest model there are very reasonable options for you too. Check your iPhone 4 upgrade eligibility with AT&T and you likely won’t have to wait until your old contract expires. In most […]

  17. WendyV says:

    According to, the price of the iPhone 4 is $199 for 16gb and $299 for 32gb, which means that AT&T isn’t cutting you a deal at all on the price. The prices are at the bottom of the iPhone 4 page on

  18. michael says:

    This is what I seem to remember on upgrades —

    You have a two year commitment on the iphone, but depending on how much your monthly bill is, your “full upgrade” eligibility may be SOONER than 24 months. Seems like mine is 16 or 17 months. I have 2 iPhones on a family plan. I have a corporate discount on my month bill, but total it’s around $129.

    When you factor in that AT&T is grandfathering in ALL eligible plans for 2010, (and I got my 3gs the week they came out last july(?)) it would seem that I can get the iphone 4 for $199/$299.

  19. Ab says:

    Check this link for info about pricing. For people whose contact is getting over this year , I would recommend to wait for end of contract and then buy new iPhone 4G which should be 199$ & 299$ for 16 and 32 gig respectively. That way you have two iPhones, sell your old iPhone on eBay or something. That way you could get somthing out of it

  20. Ellie says:

    mine says “As a valued customer, we can offer you an upgrade with a new 2-tr commitment and an $18 upgrade fee.” i assume this means that i can upgrade to iphone 4 at the advertised price, but apparently my contract ends in july of 2011, so how is this possible?

    • Jared says:

      Ellie- I’m in the same boat. I was a new AT&T/iPhone customer when 3GS launched so my 2 years isn’t up until June 2011. However, I get the same “As a valued customer, we can offer you an upgrade with a new 2-yr commitment and an $18 upgrade fee.”

      I thought I read somewhere that AT&T might offer this program to us, the same as if you’re within 6 months to end of contract, due to the current plans we’re signed up for.

      I currently have the 900 minutes, unlimited data plan, and $5 text plan bringing in my bill to roughly $120/mo.

      Do you have a higher-end plan too? I’m assuming this message means that if I want the iPhone 4 32GB it will cost me $299 + $18.

      My other questions are:
      1) Does the new 2-yr contract start when I get the new phone, or is it tacked on the end of my existing contract?
      2) Am I forced to go to the limited data plans, or can I keep my unlimited data plan that I currently have? It seems like if it is a new contract, they’d force you to go to one of their new data plans.

      • Ellie says:


        I called AT&T and apparently, if you received that specific text, you would be able to upgrade for the full discounted price. I am still a bit unsure though because I called a couple of times and got a couple of different answers including I wouldn’t be able to upgrade anything at all until July of 2011; I guess some of the cust. service rep for AT&T are not as knowledgeable as others.

        Also, if the same terms apply for the iPhone 4 as they did for the previous iphone releases then:

        1) the 2 yr commitment will restart from the date you sign (the day you get the phone) and will not simply be added onto your current contract

        2) if you are already an iphone customer, you will have the option to remain with the $30 unlimited therefore will not have to go with one of the limited plans.

        But if anyone else can answer the questions that Jared and I have on our eligibility, please try to explain because I am actually very confused as to whether or not I can upgrade to the 32gb iphone 4 for $299

        • Paul says:

          Hey Ellie, check my response below, it should clear things up. In short: you should be eligible to get the iPhone 4 for $299 assuming you renew a 2yr contract with AT&T (you may have to pay the $18 though).

        • Jared says:

          Thanks for calling and looking into it. I would of thought that their txt/online account could be a little more specific as it relates to the upgrade cost rather than being so ambiguous. Go figure.

          With everything I’ve read, I won’t be convinced until I go through the upgrade process on and it shows me the final pricing in checkout.

          If it works out that I can get the new phone for $299 given my current status, then that is a pretty sweet deal, which is why I lean toward “too good to be true”.

          I’m probably thinking about this too much- actually, I know I am. With the discontinuing of the 3G, and the only offering of the 3GS at 8GB for $99, it seems they really are wanting everyone to go to the iPhone 4 soon. Ultimately, the voice/data plan is the most expensive part of this so why would someone pay $99 for the 3GS 8gb vs $199 for the iPhone 4 16gb? The 3GS 8gb will be the Walmart iPhone soon. With that being said, why do they want everyone on the new platform? Obviously revenue is a driver, but looking at it historically, they didn’t take other models out of production until some time had passed- but not this time. Are there other reasons?


          Paul, thx for the info.

      • Paul says:

        If you renew your existing contract (unlimited data plan), you can keep the unlimited data, but if you let it lapse then you’ll lose the ability to get unlimited data. A new 2 year contract starts from the date of the new iPhone purchase and activation.

        You could likely lower the $120/month payment by downgrading to a smaller data usage plan. I was surprised to see how little data I use, but I’m almost always on WiFi and when I’m not I generally just use Google Maps and Mail.

        You can check your data usage on AT&T by going to their site, directions are here:

  21. Marek says:

    Yes my dad’s work pays for the plan. I’ll have to go to an AT&T store to check it then.

  22. Barney says:

    This doesn’t work for Australian optus :(
    I’m guessing this is an operator service
    I hate it how Australia is so slow to get everything

  23. Connor says:

    marek- i am getting the same message and to what chrisk said, my dad’s company pays for my phone so thats true.

  24. chrisk says:

    Marek- are you using a corporate iphone plan? ie: Does work pay for your iphone? I have heard that corporate account users get this same message

  25. Marek says:

    Mine gives me a message that says:

    We’re sorry. Requested information is currently unavailable. Please try again later.

    I have retried this multiple times in the past few days and it keeps giving me the same message. Anyone know whats wrong?

  26. ikonik says:

    i sent it 20 mins ago and nothing came back??? Im special!!!!

  27. ender21 says:

    Followup: “discounted iphone upgrade at a higher price” means AT&T’s early upgrade option. So the tiers are:
    $199/$299 – Full upgrade discount
    $399/$499 – Early upgrade discount
    $599/$699 – Full uncommitted price

  28. ender21 says:

    So what does the “discounted iphone upgrade at a higher price” mean? The only quoted prices are for the full discount or for full price.

  29. Alex says:

    It actually says “eligible for upgrade at HIGHER price” plus $18. People, read carefully. $18 is not the only thing you’ll have to pay for upgrade if your contract is not up yet.
    Funny thing, AT&T site after reboot in the morning does not show upgrade eligibility date for me anymore and it was coming on 21st of June, i.e. in 2 weeks. I wonder what in the hell it means. Other phones on the family plan are still showing upgrade dates.

  30. Brian says:

    I got the message: “A full discount on a standard handset or iPhone upgrade is not available at this time but you may qualify on 02/20/2011. We can offer you a discounted iPhone upgrade at a higher price with a 2-yr commitment and an $18 upgrade fee. Please visit a participating iPhone sales location for pricing on this offer.” – lame, I have had an iPhone edge for a long time as well. Guess we don’t get any AT&T love.

  31. Kathy says:

    My text says I must pay $18 – no waiving of the fee- nothing says you have to buy the phone so that is misleading. The text makes it seem like you get the phone for $18.

    I have had my iphone since the day it launched and I have had no issues with ATT despite my expectations to the contrary.

    • Starbuck says:


      On my iPhone right now, never a problem. I think it depends on the city. iPhone 4 here I come!

  32. jpz says:

    Ive had my iphone for 2 years. Im so unhappy with ATT that I dont care how much better the new iphone is. Droid wins.

    • tjg says:

      Too bad you don’t like AT&T…I have nothing but great success with my coverage. Not a problem in my two years. Can’t wait to upgrade.

      • Sara says:

        I hate AT&T i have had nothign but problems in the six years I have been with them, but I do not pay my bill, my uncle does so i dont complaintoo much. At&T has some of the rudest people I’ve ever met, also when I dial that it says sorry requested information in unavailable at this time, it has said that for the past 3 years.

    • Mauricio Feijo says:

      Did you do the Sprint trial offer? I did. Tried the EVO 4G. In NYC there is no 4G network ( nothing but old WiMAX. Same technology CLEAR uses), so I didn’t see any connection speed difference. Voice quality is so much better on ATT. Also, ANDROID is, on my opinion, not nearly as mature as iPhone OS3.2. Usability is not nearly as good, many many things missing. I WOULD SAY TRY THE EVO B4 COMMITING TO IT OR ANYTHING ELSE. If you come from an iPhone, you will soon remember how god the iPhone experience really is. I now have the iPhone 4 and absolutely love it!

  33. Eric M says:

    I got this response:
    “A full discount on a standard handset or iPhone upgrade is not available at this time but you may qualify on 02/21/2011. We can offer you a discounted iPhone upgrade at a higher price with a 2-yr commitment and an $18 upgrade fee. Please visit a participating iPhone sales location for pricing on this offer.”

    I got my 3GS 2 days after it came out and I am on a family plan.

  34. Riley Dutton says:

    I just got an iPhone 3GS about 6 months ago. I called the number and received the response:

    A full discount on a standard headset or iPhone upgrade is not available at this time but you may qualify on 10/14/2011. We can offer you a discounted iPhone upgrade at a higher price with a 2-yr commitment and an $18 upgrade fee. Please visit a participating iPhone sales location for pricing on this offer.

    So, it does seem to be accurate!

  35. Jason Prado says:

    It told me I would have to pay the $18 fee. Is that really all? Where do you think I go to get the 4G? (I bought the 3GS right when it came out)

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