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These are the best iPhone SE 2020 deals

Don't pay $399! Instead, check out these offers from Cricket, Mint, Metro and more.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
5 min read
John Kim/CNET

The new, second-gen iPhone SE has arrived, with prices starting at $399 for the 64GB model. That number is a big part of the appeal, especially given that the next option in the iPhone lineup is the XR at $599. CNET's Patrick Holland feels the affordable new iPhone SE has arrived at just the right time with just the right design.

The Cheapskate feels you can do better than $399. Whether you dust off an old iPhone to trade in or consider switching to a new carrier, there are ways to save money on Apple's latest.

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Before we dive into the best iPhone SE deals, however, let me suggest a few alternatives:

  • Visible is still offering the single best iPhone XR deal anywhere: Just $376 after a $200 rebate. You do have to pay for Visible service ($40 a month, or less with a group plan), but only for two months. Great, great deal. (Also: big, big phone.)
  • If it's the iPhone 8 design you're after, why not consider an iPhone 8? It may be a generation or two behind in terms of processor and camera, but it's still a mighty fine phone. At Glyde, you can get a like-new unlocked iPhone 8 for as low as $280. And at BackMarket, iPhone 8 prices start at around $220 (for scratch-and-dent models).

Still eyeballing an iPhone SE? Here are the best deals I've found. Note that I'll be updating this post as I find others, so be sure to check back.

Read more: iPhone SE review: Apple's $399 iPhone lives up to the hype

Metro's new deal is interesting, but also a little frustrating: To get it, you must visit a Metro brick-and-mortar store (and bring a valid ID). Assuming you can find a store near you that's open, you can then buy the iPhone SE starting at $199.99, the result of an instant $200 rebate. Keep Metro service going for at least six consecutive months and you'll receive a $100 MasterCard prepaid card.

Metro's unlimited individual plans start at $40 per month, though with four lines of service it drops to $25 per line. If you're good with one of those options, this makes for one of the lowest post-rebate iPhone SE prices anywhere. Note, however, that you do need to transfer an existing number; this isn't available for a new line of service.

AT&T-owned Cricket keeps things pretty simple: You can get the iPhone SE starting at $350, though at the moment only the white model is in stock at that price. (Other configurations are selling out rapidly.) You can either port in your existing number or set up a new line of service; either way, you're not on the hook for a contract or lease agreement.

While you can take the phone to another AT&T carrier after just one month, however, Cricket won't unlock the phone unless you've been a customer for at least six months. Thankfully, the carrier's plans are competitive, like the 5GB one that's $35 monthly (with autopay).

This is interesting: Mint Mobile, a carrier known for discounted service sold in three-, six- and 12-month blocks, is getting into the contract game. You can get the iPhone SE for $15 a month and a service plan starting at $15 a month. You'll pay that for 24 months, effectively resulting in a $360 price tag for the phone.

As for the service, the $15 rate nets you Mint's 3GB plan; you can step up to 8GB or 12GB for $20 or $25. The rate on the phone remains the same: $15 a month. Whatever way you go, this is a singularly affordable way to get the new iPhone SE without paying hundreds of dollars up front.

If you don't want to be roped into a contract with a carrier, consider buying your iPhone SE straight from Apple, choosing the SIM-free option at checkout. That way you can take it to whatever carrier you want and switch as often as you want.

And if you have an older iPhone to trade in, it will effectively lower your purchase price. An iPhone 6S in good condition, for example, is worth $80, while an iPhone 7 Plus is valued at $150. Just take note that you'll pay full price for the SE, then receive a cash credit for the trade-in after Apple has received and inspected it.

If you can swing just $8.33 a month, for 24 months, you can swing the iPhone SE. That's a savings of $200 over the course of two years. To get this deal, you'll need to activate a new line of service with Xfinity and transfer an existing number. Xfinity's service plans start at $15 a month, for 1GB of data.

The catch? To get phone service, you must be a Comcast Xfinity subscriber.

Visible's excellent deal goes like this: Pay $384 up front ($15 below the list price) and get a $200 rebate (in the form of a Mastercard virtual credit card) after two months of service. And those two months will cost you just $40 each for unlimited everything -- less if you take advantage of Visible's group option.

Those are great terms; it's barely even a contract. And the phone comes unlocked, so if you decide to make a move after two months, there's nothing stopping you. However, if there's a catch, it's that you must port in an existing number; you can't get this offer on a new line of service.

One of the better iPhone SE deals so far shaves $50 off the 64GB model and gives you six months of service. And when you apply promo code CHEAPSKATESE, you'll save another $25, dropping your out-the-door price to just $324. (That code is now expired.)

You can also get the 128GB model for $399 and the 256GB one for $499, effectively netting you the same overall savings. Read more about this deal in my previous post about it.

Have you found a better iPhone SE deal? Tell me about it in the comments!

Originally published earlier this month. Updated to include new deals, price changes and availability.

Watch this: iPhone SE reminds us how much we missed the home button

CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. For the latest deals and updates, follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and check out our CNET Coupons page for the latest promo codes from Best BuyWalmartAmazon and more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page.

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