Samsung Upgrade Program: How it works and is it worth it?

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The Samsung Upgrade Program launched a couple of years ago in a bid to get customers to upgrade. As smartphones have become more expensive, customers have started holding on to their phones longer. So Samsung decided to launch its own upgrade program which spreads out the cost of a new smartphone over 24 months and allows customers to upgrade after 12 months.How the Samsung Upgrade Program worksThe benefit that customers have when buying a device on this program is that they can spread the cost of a new flagship over 24 monthly payments. The biggest incentive that this program offers is an upgrade eligibility after 12 months. Say you have used the Galaxy Note 9 and are now eyeing the Galaxy Note 10. Once you’ve hit the 12-month mark, you’re eligible to upgrade to the Galaxy Note 10. Bear in mind that your credit will be checked when you enroll for the Samsung Upgrade Program. Your credit is affected when a new obligation is opened up. TD Bank is currently Samsung’s partner in the US for the financing of this program.

Just select Samsung Upgrade as the payment plan when purchasing a smartphone directly from the company online or through the Shop Samsung app. It’s available for both carrier-locked and factory unlocked variants. It’s also possible to switch your carrier at any time after you activate it. Samsung currently offers 0% APR for 24 months which means that if you qualify, you will not have to pay interest on the monthly payments. A $949.99 Galaxy Note 10 would simply cost $39.58 per month for 24 months.Upgrade eligibility is tied to 12 months passing since the date on which Samsung shipped your initial smartphone. It determines that by counting 365 days from the date of shipment. Once you’ve crossed that mark, you’re eligible for an upgrade to the latest model. There’s no compulsion to upgrade. You could decide to keep your device and once it is fully paid off after 24 months, you own it outright.Your upgrade device will be sent to you first in addition to a shipping label. Use it to return your existing device to Samsung. The company will then evaluate it and inform you of the value that it has assessed. That will be applied as an upgrade credit to your account. The good thing is that Samsung only asks for the device back. You can keep the box and the accessories that came with it. No credit is offered for them so even if you send them back, Samsung won’t return them to you.If you decide to keep your existing device after upgrading, Samsung won’t stop you. However, if you don’t return it, you will be required to continue making payments on the device until it’s fully paid off.Requirements to be met for an upgradeYour Financing Account needs to be open and in good standing, in that it should have enough available credit to make the upgrade purchase. If you do decide to upgrade, you stand to receive a maximum credit of up to 50 percent of the initial purchase price of your existing smartphone. It has to be returned to Samsung in “good condition.” What that means is that the device should power on, hold a charge and not power off unexpectedly.

It needs to have a functioning display, no breaks or cracks, no visible defects beyond “normal wear and tear.” There should also be no evidence of water damage. The device should not be on a “blacklist” of any kind, reactivation lock and Google Factory Reset Protection must be disabled and a factory reset must be performed to remove all personal information before the device is returned to Samsung.The numbers gameWhat this upgrade program essentially does is give you the maximum credit that you need to pay off your existing device after 12 months. Using the Galaxy Note 10 as an example, you could receive $475 as maximum credit if you decide to upgrade after 12 months. That’s precisely what you’d owe Samsung for the remaining 12 months. You decide to upgrade after a year and are given the maximum credit for your existing device which is now paid off.If you decide to wait a few months before upgrading and have paid two additional monthly installments, the maximum credit you can receive has now come down by that much, as Samsung will only give you credit for the amount you still owe on the existing device. The maximum credit offered after 14 months will be $396. So you are essentially financing the full price of the phone that you’re upgrading to. There is no additional monetary benefit to be extracted here.Samsung’s normal return policy applies if you decide to return your existing or new phone. The company will issue a credit to the financing account for the applicable amount if the return is compliant with the applicable returns and refunds policy. If the upgrade device is returned, you will not be eligible to receive the upgrade credit for a future purchase with the account.The risk that you need to be aware ofThe risk here is that you have no say in how the upgrade credit for your device is assessed. If the company feels that the condition requirements haven’t been met, it will simply value the device at $25 and apply that as a credit. There’s no way for you to get them to assess it again or get it back. The terms of this program mention that once the old device has been sent to Samsung, its ownership is transferred to Samsung and it cannot be returned to you for any reason.

It’s not like Samsung gives customers the short end of the stick and only gives $25 as an upgrade credit for each device. Most customers do receive the maximum credit for their smartphone so this puts some responsibility on your shoulders as well. Thoroughly understand the requirements on which your device is to be assessed. If it’s really busted up and you send it to Samsung anyway, you’ll only get $25 so not only do you have to pay off the balance on your existing device, you also have to pay for the device you just upgraded to.You do have options at this point, albeit limited. A device in that condition could fetch more than $25 on eBay, for example. That would certainly be better than getting the absolute minimum from Samsung as you would then be that much closer to paying off your device.Is the Samsung Upgrade Program worth it?There are two important factors that you should keep in mind. If you’re not someone who wants to upgrade their phone when a new model comes out every year, then this upgrade program is obviously not for you. If you do like sporting the latest Samsung flagship every year, then there’s something that you need to keep in mind.Samsung has become really generous with its trade-in values in recent years, offering up to $500 for recent devices. So you should first check if it’s possible for you to get more value from a simple trade-in at Samsung compared to the maximum upgrade credit. The upgrade program only gives credit for your existing Samsung device purchased on the program. On the other hand, even iPhones and Google Pixel smartphones are eligible for direct trade-in with values of up to $500 as well.You may also want to check trade-in values at Samsung’s retail partners. Microsoft was recently offering up to $650 as trade-in credit for the Galaxy Note 9. If you had bought the phone on the upgrade program last year and wanted the Galaxy Note 10 now, you’d only get $450 in maximum credit. In this case, it would make more sense to pay off your balance on the program and trade-in the device with Microsoft for an additional $200.Between high trade-in values and additional freebies that Samsung almost always offers with new flagships, the Samsung Upgrade Program won’t really be worth it. Even if you do consider it, it’s important that you do your due diligence before signing up. You wouldn’t want to leave money on the table.

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