Upgrade To iPhone 6 [Plus] And Keep Unlimited Data Plan With Verizon

Yes. It is still possible:

upgrade verizon iphone 5s to iPhone 6 plus + keep unlimited data - end goal

How is that for a teaser?

But kidding aside, for the last three years I have been able to upgrade my iPhone line to the latest and greatest version taking advantage of the other dumbphone lines on our family plan. Including this year.

In 2012 and 2013, the trick was pretty straightforward:

  1. Upgrade a dumbphone line to a new iPhone
  2. Reactivate the dumbphone back on that line
  3. Activate the new iPhone on the old iPhone line
  4. Celebrate

I wrote a detailed post on how to do that last year, and judging by the number of comments, a few people found it useful.

Fast forward to 2014.

The loophole that allowed the above process to work is now closed shut by Verizon - when upgrading a dumbphone line to the latest iPhone, it was possible to select a data plan and then get rid of that data plan on step 2 when the dumbphone was placed back on that line.

Not anymore. Verizon now requires you to keep that data plan or pay an early termination fee. With cheapest option being $30 a month for two years, that's quite a price to pay for that "free" upgrade. Alternatively, you can upgrade your iPhone line directly and lose the unlimited data plan.

But there is still a way to upgrade and keep the unlimited data. I just did it. And here is a step-by-step with screenshots to put your mind at ease if you consider doing this yourself. As always, YMMV - take screenshots and prints out as you do it yourself, particularly making sure that your unlimited data is not affected.

Upgrade To iPhone 6 [Plus] With Unlimited Data in a Nutshell

Here is what we will do:

  • On Verizon website, go through the process of upgrading a dumbphone line and ordering the new iPhone 6 [Plus] on that line
  • Agonize while you wait for it to ship - chocolate helps. A chocolate iPhone would help even more.
  • Once received, instead of activating it on the dumbphone line you ordered it on, activate the new iPhone 6 [Plus] on your old iPhone line
  • Marvel at the new iPhone and have a drink of your choice as you appreciate its seamless design (this step is optional).
  • Sell your old iPhone to Gazelle, have another beverage of your choice, brag to everyone about your brand spanking new iPhone 6 [Plus]. Also, tell everyone how much you hate the new iOS 7 iOS 8 (any and all parts of this step are optional as well).

Now, here are the promised step-by-step instructions.


The only way to prevent downgrading your iPhone line from unlimited data to 2GB data plan is to order the new phone on a different line first, then activate it on your main line. This means that you have to be on a family plan with the non-iPhone line eligible for an upgrade (or an available upgrade that can be transferred to that line). If that's not your current situation, I believe it should be possible to add a line to your current plan, effectively turning it into a family plan while paying very little for it and making you eligible for an upgrade every year. I will address this in at the very end of this post.

But let's get back to the issue at hand. In my particular case, we have four phones on our family plan. My iPhone 5s, two dumb phones for my parents, and an Android excuse for a phone that my sister loves.

Step 0: Verify upgrade eligibility

Remember, we need a line with an available upgrade. In your Verizon account online, under My Verizon drop-down select My Device and then Upgrade Device:

upgrade verizon iphone 5s to iPhone 6 plus + keep unlimited data - verify upgrade eligibility

In my particular case, the only line with an upgrade on it is my iPhone line. Fret not - Verizon makes it easy to transfer the upgrade to a different line (one of the dumbphones) by clicking on (surprise, surprise) Transfer Upgrade:

upgrade verizon iphone 5s to iPhone 6 plus + keep unlimited data - transfer upgrade

Step 1: Backup your old iPhone

This goes without saying... make sure you have your backup up to date. Remember that just syncing your iPhone with iTunes may not actually back it up. Double check the time of your last backup and click that Back Up Now button if needed:

upgrade verizon iphone 5 to iphone 5s iphone 5c keep unlimited data - backup first

Step 2: Purchase new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus on your dumbphone line

Purchase the new iPhone via Verizon website at the contract price plus $30 for the upgrade. My iPhone 6 128 GB came out to $497.98 ($399 + $30 upgrade + tax). Yikes! But we'll get most of it back when we sell the old one later.

Note: when paying for this, take into consideration which credit card you will use. American Express cards provide notoriously awesome warranty services while Chase Ink family of cards will give you 5 points per dollar spent at Verizon. Debit cards, gift cards, and cash are terrible because they will not give you ANY purchase protection.

Here is what the step-by-step process looks like on the website after selecting to upgrade the dumbphone line:

upgrade verizon iphone 5s to iPhone 6 plus + keep unlimited data - choose iphone 6 or iphone 6 plus

upgrade verizon iphone 5s to iPhone 6 plus + keep unlimited data - disclosure

upgrade verizon iphone 5s to iPhone 6 plus + keep unlimited data - select options

Sure it says 2GB data on here, but remember, you are choosing the data package for your dumbphone line. This choice should have no effect on your iPhone line's unlimited data. I have confirmed with a Verizon chat agent that these new data charges on your dumbphone line will only start when we activate the iPhone 6 on it. But we won't!

upgrade verizon iphone 5s to iPhone 6 plus + keep unlimited data - verizon chat

Next couple of screens will try to upsell you on equipment protection and accessories and finally the last two confirmation screens:

upgrade verizon iphone 5s to iPhone 6 plus + keep unlimited data - service changes

upgrade verizon iphone 5s to iPhone 6 plus + keep unlimited data - final confirmation

Step 3: Activate new iPhone 6 [Plus] on your main line, not the dumbphone line

So after a few days your new iPhone finally gets there and the fun continues.

Back to My Verizon, My Device and then Activate or Switch Device. Don't turn off your old iPhone just yet!

upgrade verizon iphone 5s to iPhone 6 plus + keep unlimited data - activate

upgrade verizon iphone 5s to iPhone 6 plus + keep unlimited data - enter device id

upgrade verizon iphone 5s to iPhone 6 plus + keep unlimited data - verification

It took me good five minutes to receive the code so I was starting to suspect that something might be up. But the code came. Just wait for it.

After you get the code, you can turn off your old iPhone, pop out the SIM card and get ready for the final step.

upgrade verizon iphone 5s to iPhone 6 plus + keep unlimited data - transfer sim cards

And you are done!

Turn on the new iPhone with the old SIM card in it and you should be all good to go. No need to call to activate or anything else.

Step 4: Sell your old iPhone

Once you got your new iPhone up and running, get rid of the old one! There are various services that will give you either "cash" or store credit for it:

  • Verizon - this year will give you a very generous store credit when upgrading from old iPhone to the new one on the same line. Obviously, we cannot do this to avoid being kicked off our unlimited data plan here.
  • Apple store - similarly, will give you upgrade credit if getting the new phone at their store. Again, we did not do this so this option is not for us.
  • Amazon - will give you Amazon gift card for it ($275 for 32GB Verizon iPhone 5s in "good" condition). I already have quite a bit of money tied up in Amazon account so I didn't want this. Also, I am not sure how they determine whether the condition is "good" or not. The "acceptable" 5S is only worth $167.
  • Gamestop - I was surprised to learn that you can take your old iPhone to one of their stores and they give you cash on the spot. Their offer is currently at $255 but I have never used them (or been to their store for that matter) so I can't say how smooth the process is.
  • Nextworth - While their offer was the highest with $235 for my iPhone 5, I decided not to go with them because of terrible reviews.
  • Gazelle - I got my quote at the end of August for $310. Currently, they offer very competitive $245 (or $257.25 in Amazon gift card). I sold both iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 to Gazelle when I upgraded the last two years and they were very quick so I went ahead with this option once again.

[message type="custom]Note: if you use my referral link to create a new account with Gazelle to sell your stuff, we will get extra $10 each. If you found information in this blog post helpful, I would sure appreciate your support! Even if you are waiting to get the 6, you can (and should) get the quote now before the value drops. You have at least a month to ship it and can always get another quote later in the unlikely event that the price goes up.[/message]

sending selling iphone 5s to gazelle