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Five things to remember when buying a new cellphone

CellChain_fbTwo months ago I was debating whether or not to buy a new smartphone. My contract was over, my once powerful smartphone had lost its lightning speed, and I realized I was paying a premium monthly charge for a cellphone subsidy I had long since paid off.

The internal debate raged on until yesterday, when I decided: It was time for a new phone. My wife and I decided to stick with Verizon because 1) We’ve been happy with the call quality and reliability; 2) Our families have Verizon; and 3) It was easy.

Whether or not you stay with your carrier or take your business elsewhere at the end of your contract is your decision. But whatever you decide, here are five things to remember when purchasing a new phone:

1. Ask the company if it will waive any fees associated with the new phone. I was surprised to find out that Verizon charged a $30 fee to upgrade to a new phone (maybe I shouldn’t have been). That’s in addition to the $200 or so most subsidized new smartphones cost. If you’ve got the nerve, ask the phone company if they’ll waive the fee. It never hurts to ask, especially if you’ve been a loyal customer.

2. Keep your old phone as insurance. Instead of paying the phone company’s $10-a-month insurance plan, keep your old phone as insurance, especially if it has a low trade-in value. If your new phone gets lost or broken a few months down the road, you can always activate your old smartphone and tough it out until it’s time to upgrade again.

3. Don’t get too excited. If you don’t have unlimited data, wait until you’re connected to Wi-Fi before downloading all of your favorite smartphone apps. Otherwise, you could approach your plan’s monthly data limit in just a few short hours.

4. You don’t have to buy a case—yet. Your cellphone carrier probably has a nice display of cases to protect your new smartphone—but the Internet has more. If you’re looking for a customized cellphone case, or a cheaper one, check online first. You can always return to your cellphone carrier later if you don’t find one you like elsewhere.

5. Hold off on other accessories too. Chances are, your carrier will try to sell you on extra phone chargers, portable batteries, screen protectors, or even a new tablet before you leave the store. Be prepared for a sales pitch.

What tips do you have for buying a new phone?