Best Cell Phone Deals of September 2021

We compared the best cell phone deals this month to create a list of the best trade-in, upgrade, and other carrier deals for mobile phones.
  • Best AT&T Deal

    Up to $700 off Galaxy S21 with trade-in

  • Best T-Mobile Deal

    Up to $830 off select smartphones with trade-in

  • Best Verizon Deal

    Up to $1,500 off Galaxy Z Fold3 with trade-in

  • Best Mint Mobile Deal

    $50 off a new Pixel 5 for new customers

  • Best Boost Mobile Deal

    $300 off Galaxy S20 FE with any cell plan

It’s September already (where has 2021 gone?), and we’ve got another roundup of the best cell phone deals. This month we see an incredible deal from Verizon on the new foldable Galaxy Z, plus a whole bunch of other ways to save on premium phones.

That’s enough with the chit-chat, let’s get to the deals!

Best cell phone deals of September 2021

Best AT&T cell phone deal: Up to $700 off Galaxy S21 with trade-in

Save some cold hard cash on Samsung’s powerful new Galaxy

Pros

  • Big savings on amazing device
  • Get great AT&T service

Cons

  • Must switch to AT&T or add a new line
  • Must trade in old device

The Galaxy S21 5G is an awesome phone. But it costs a pretty penny. Luckily, you can get up $700 off when you switch to AT&T or add a new line. You just have to have an eligible old phone to trade in. Here’s a partial list of eligible devices (check with AT&T for full list).

  • Apple devices: iPhone 8, 8+, X, XR, XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, 12, 12min, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max
  • Samsung devices: A71, Galaxy S9/S9+, Galaxy S10/S10+, Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S20/S20+, Note8, Note9, Note10, Note10+,
  • Google devices: Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, Pixel 5

Best T-Mobile cell phone deal: Free iPhone 12 with trade-in

This is the best T-Mobile deal for the third month in a row

Pros

  • Trade-in can cover full iPhone 12 price
  • Amazing data speeds from T-Mobile

Cons

  • Must trade-in old device

We’ve been really impressed with T-Mobile’s super-fast network recently. But if you’re still not sure, maybe a free iPhone 12 will help convince you.

When you trade-in an eligible device you can get up $830 in credit towards your new phone. Here’s a list of the devices that are eligible for this trade-in deal:

  • Apple devices: iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, XS, XS Max, XR, X
  • Samsung devices: Galaxy S20, S20+, S20 Ultra, S20 Fan edition, S21, S21+, Note10, Note20, Note20 Ultra, Z Flip 5G, Z Fold2
  • Motorola devices: moto razr 5G
  • OnePlus devices: OnePlus 8 5G, 8T+ 5G

Best Verizon cell phone deal: Up to $1,500 off Galaxy Z Fold3 with trade-in

You could buy a couple Playstation 5s with all that extra dough

Pros

  • Get the insanely cool Galaxy Z Fold at a discount
  • Enjoy Verizon's amazing coverage

Cons

  • Must trade-in old device
  • Requires new line or plan upgrade

The Galaxy Z Fold3 5G may be a real mouthful to say (maybe tone it down a bit with the names, Samsung!), but it’s pretty much the coolest, most powerful phone on the market right now. It has dual 120 Hz displays, an S Pen, an incredible camera, and a new, durable design.

The biggest downside to the Flip3 is the price (retail is $1,799). But if you trade-in an eligible device with Verizon, you can get up to $1,000 off plus a $500 prepaid card. That’s a whole lot of savings.

Best Mint Mobile cell phone deal: $50 off a new Pixel 5 for new customers

Mint’s low prices look even better with a discount on a new Pixel 5

Pros

  • Score an easy $50 off
  • Enjoy cheap unlimited data

Cons

  • Must be new customer and sign up for 12 months

Mint Mobile’s cheap, simple, and powerful plans make it one of our favorite MVNOs in the industry right now. And the company is offering a little promotion that can save you $50 on a brand new Pixel 5, as if you needed more incentive to join.

Best Boost Mobile phone deal: $300 off Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G with any cell plan

We’ll keep featuring this deal until something better comes along!

Pros

  • Score a Galaxy S20 on the cheap
  • Get Boost’s unlimited data plan

Cons

  • Must pay for phone up front

The Galaxy S20 FE is basically Samsung’s version of the iPhone SE (2020). It takes all of the best parts of the regular S20 model and puts them into a simpler and cheaper device. What’s not to love?

Boost Mobile is making the deal even sweeter. You can score a brand new Galaxy S20 FE for $399 instead of the usual $699 when you sign up for a new Boost plan.

Tips and tricks for finding the best cell phone deals

This is how to find cell phone deals like a pro

Here’s the golden rule of buying a new phone: never pay full price. There’s almost always a way to get the device you want with a discount, a BOGO deal, or some other promotional offer. Here’s what to look for when you’re shopping.

See if your carrier offers the latest phones for existing customers

Last year AT&T announced that it would start giving its existing customers some of the very same phone deals that it offers to new customers. Since then the other two major carriers—T-Mobile and Verizon—have followed suit.

Be sure to check your current carrier’s deals before running to a new company. It can help to actually call (so old fashioned) and tell a representative what you’re looking for (especially if you say you’re thinking of changing carriers!).

Look for refer-a-friend programs

You like your friends (most of the time) and you like saving money (all of the time), so why not put the two together? Many carriers—like Mint, Visible, and AT&T—will give you an account credit when you refer a friend.

While these account credits aren’t exactly phone deals, they do cut your monthly bill. Since many phones are bought on installments that you pay with your monthly bill, it’s basically the same thing.

Look for trade-in programs

Verizon is usually running some kind of incredible trade-in deal that will give you $800+ off your new device when you give up your old one. While not every carrier offers that kind of cash, most do have some sort of trade-in policy.

Remember, if you’re trading in an iPhone 6 with a busted screen, it’s going to be worth a lot less than a Samsung Galaxy S20+ that’s just a year old.

Consider switching carriers to get the new customer treatment

We talked about how some carriers are beginning to offer deals to existing customers. But this is the exception to the rule. In most cases, switching to a new carrier opens up a whole new world of phone deals.

Companies often save their best deals—like iPhone BOGO offers—for those who sign up for an unlimited data plan. Besides, switching to the right company can save you money and give you more data (depending on what plan you’re on now).

Factor free streaming subscriptions and other perks into the total savings

Cell phone companies like to throw in perks to get you to sign up for their plans. Some perks are boring, like 500 MB free data when you travel south of the border. But there are other perks that are, to be honest, freakin’ awesome.

AT&T will give you a free HBO Max subscription on certain plans. T-Mobile will hook you up with a Netflix plan. And Verizon plans often give you Disney+, Hulu, and other subscriptions! These may not be directly related to your phone purchase, but they sweeten the deal for sure.

Frequently asked questions about cell phone deals

Welcome to the FAQ section, where we answer all of your burning questions about love, life, and cell phones … well, mostly about cell phones actually.

When is the best time to look for cell phone deals?

It depends on what you want. It’s well known in the industry that Apple tends to unveil its new devices in September of each year, while Samsung usually sticks to a January release date. So, if you want a new iPhone or Galaxy phone, then those will be the times you’ll see a flurry of deals on new models.

You’ll also see a good amount of deals landing around Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other holidays.

If you’re not interested in waiting for the right deal to land in your lap, then you can take the initiative by switching to a new carrier or adding a new line to your plan (to make it a family plan). Since pretty much every company has done away with restrictive contracts, it doesn’t really matter when you switch.

Should I switch to a different cell phone carrier to get a good deal on a cell phone?

The short answer is yes, unless you’re really happy with your current carrier.

Not only are the best deals usually saved for new customers, but many companies will also give you other incentives to “break up” with your current cell phone company. For example, T-Mobile will pay up to $650 for you to pay off your phone or phone bill with your old carrier when you switch over.

What are the best upgrade cell phone deals?

There is some incentive for folks to stay with their existing carrier. Most companies will offer upgrade deals every year or two. These deals can help you keep up with the latest models from Apple, Samsung, or Google, but they might not be as substantial as the deals for brand new customers.

If you think you should be eligible for an upgrade, give your carrier a call.

What are the best refer-a-friend cell phone deals?

Mint Mobile has one of the best referral deals around. You can get up to $240 of credit when you refer up to five friends. That’s enough credit to get you a full year on Mint’s 10 GB plan! Plus, each friend that you refer will get a $15 credit for themselves. Everyone wins.

Most companies have a referral program. So, if you’ve got friends looking for a new phone plan, be sure to ask your current carrier about their referral deals. You may be able to score some credit for a new phone or to help pay your bill.

What are the best cell phone trade-in deals?

That old iPhone 8 may seem totally worthless to you. But it could be worth a couple hundred bucks in the right context. Verizon Wireless probably has the most robust trade-in program, offering up to $800 (!) off a new iPhone 12.

Of course, trading in your old phone might not fetch as much as selling on your own using Facebook Marketplace.

What are the best smartphones?

There are several contenders for the best smartphone on the market. But after a lot of research and analysis, we’ve come up with three devices that clearly beat out the competition.

  • Best overall performance: The Samsung Galaxy S21+ quite simply has everything. The best camera, a lightning-fast processor, an insanely beautiful display, 5G capability, and pretty much everything else you could want.
  • Best overall value: If you want a phone that balances incredible performance with reasonable price, the iPhone 12 is the way to go. You’ll get the beautiful design and solid reliability of an Apple product for less than $1,000 factory price.
  • Best for budget: Google has snuck into the cell phone market in recent years with some phones that rival the performance of Apple and Samsung but cost half as much. The Pixel 4A is no different. You can get this surprisingly powerful phone for under $400.

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