Clark Howard

AT&T Introduces Next Up Anytime: Up to Three Phone Upgrades/Year

If you're an AT&T customer who prefers having the latest device more than once a year, AT&T's new Next Up Anytime program is made for you. However, it comes at a cost of $10/month added to your phone's installment plan.

In this article, I’ll share what we know so far about AT&T’s Next Up Anytime, which is set to launch on July 16.

AT&T’s New Upgrade Plan: Next Up Anytime

AT&T customers who purchase a new phone through the provider have the option of setting up an Installment Plan. Instead of paying off the device in full upfront, customers can make monthly payments at 0% APR for 36 months.

Additionally, customers have had the option to add AT&T Next Up, which added $6/month to their monthly payment. With this option, customers were eligible for early upgrades after paying off 50% of the phone cost. Now, AT&T is replacing Next Up with Next Up Anytime.

With Next Up Anytime, customers can pay $10/month and get the following perks:

  • Upgrade to the latest phone with AT&T's smartphone deals once 33% or more of their phone is paid off (compared to 50% for AT&T's Next Up plan). On a 36-month installment plan, customers could upgrade to a new phone after 12 months of payments and get access to AT&T's smartphone deals.
  • Upgrade as soon as you make one installment payment and the first Next Up Anytime payment. Customers who upgrade their phone after one payment will not be eligible for AT&T's smartphone deals. Instead, you can get the device for its full retail price and pay it off over 36 months on AT&T's installment plan.
  • Upgrade up to three times per year.

AT&T's Next Up Anytime will launch on July 16. Customers who currently have Next Up will be able to keep it until they upgrade their device. Then, they'll have the option to add Next Up Anytime.

You can learn more about Next Up Anytime on AT&T's website.

Is AT&T’s Next Up Anytime Worth It?

If you’re trying to decide whether or not Next Up Anytime is worth it, consider how often you upgrade to the latest phone and how long you plan on keeping your current AT&T plan.

If you're paying off your phone through AT&T's Installment Plan, Next Up Anytime will add $10 to your monthly payment. That's $120 per year, or $360 over 36 months. The $10/month charge is in addition to your monthly phone payment and phone plan bill. Plus, each time you upgrade your phone, the newest device may cost more than your current device.

Additionally, if you upgrade your phone before 33% of the device is paid off (12 months of payments on AT&T’s Installment Plan) you won’t have access to the new customer deals on devices, making a new device more expensive.

If you plan on keeping your service with AT&T for several years and you frequently upgrade your phone, Next Up Anytime may be worth it for you. However, each time you get a new device, you're committing to three more years with AT&T. If you want to switch to a cheaper phone plan or service provider before your 36-month installment plan ends, you'll have to pay off the remaining balance on your new device before you can unlock it.

Customers on older AT&T plans should be especially cautious — AT&T recently announced that the prices for retired plans will increase by up to $20/month in August. Before you sign up for the latest upgrade program, make sure that your plan price isn't already increasing next month.

To save the most money, I recommend keeping your current phone for longer instead of paying for Next Up Anytime. Opting for a paid-off phone instead of the latest device is an easy way to lower your phone bill. Once you've paid off and unlocked your phone, you can switch to any new service provider at any time. This is a great way to get new customer deals, limited-time promotions and overall cheaper plans. Plus, with an unlocked phone, you can switch as often as you'd like to save money.

Do you plan on getting AT&T’s Next Up Anytime? Share your thoughts in our Community. You can also check out the latest conversations around cell phones here.

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