Just a few years ago, cell phone carriers offered free phones if you signed up for a 2 year contract. Everybody wants the latest and greatest technology, but at what cost?

The opportunities abound at being able to upgrade, but you need to look at the pricing structure to see what works for you. Most carriers have the option to lease or purchase, some also offer an installment plan. The benefit of a lease program is that you may have the option of upgrading to a newer model, usually after a year. When you purchase the phone outright, you can trade your old phone in and sell the old one, recouping some of the monies you’ve expended.

Several other questions you may want to consider are contract cancellation fees, are there fees to switch carriers, is there an “upcharge” to purchase the phone at the end. Make sure you do your research before you go to the store so you’re not pressured by the sales person. You can make a better informed decision on what works for you without being pressured by the salesperson. Once you sign on the dotted line you are locked into that contract and you could be stuck for years.

The takeaway is, if you decide to lease, your monthly payment maybe slightly higher, but you may be able to upgrade more easily. If you buy, the math may come out to the same as leasing even after selling your old phone.

Bottom line – how important is having the newest phone to you? Leasing may be the better option.