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Buy a 'free' iPhone 13 with trade-in: Everything to know about Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T's deals

The three carriers offer the iPhone 13, 13 Mini and 13 Pro for $0 with a trade-in, but there are caveats to keep in mind.

Dashia Milden Editor
Dashia is a staff editor for CNET Money who covers all angles of personal finance, including credit cards and banking. From reviews to news coverage, she aims to help readers make more informed decisions about their money. Dashia was previously a staff writer at NextAdvisor, where she covered credit cards, taxes, banking B2B payments. She has also written about safety, home automation, technology and fintech.
Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise 5G | Mobile networks | Wireless carriers | Phones | Tablets | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms | Mobile | Console gaming
Dashia Milden
Eli Blumenthal
5 min read
See at AT&T
AT&T iPhone 13 offer
Potentially a free iPhone 13 Pro, 13 or 13 Mini on unlimited plans
See at Verizon
Verizon iPhone 13 offer
Potentially a free iPhone 13 Pro, 13 or 13 Mini with certain plans
See at T-Mobile
T-Mobile iPhone 13 Magenta Max offer
Potentially a free iPhone 13 Pro, 13 or 13 Mini if you have T-Mobile's top plan.

The iPhone 13 lineup arrived last month, and as usual carriers rolled out tempting trade-in deals to entice people to switch over to Apple's latest and greatest. (Here are some of the best iPhone 13 deals around.) AT&T came out of the gate essentially giving away the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Mini for a starting price that can go as low as "free" to new and existing customers. Verizon later effectively matched that offer, while AT&T bumped its deal to also allow for a free iPhone 13 (and will also offer $1,000 off the iPhone 13 Pro Max with qualifying trade-ins, too). 

T-Mobile is similarly offering all three devices for free to both new and existing customers.

In all cases, there are plenty of caveats. It all depends on the phone model you're trading in, the wireless plan you have and the financing. 

AT&T/Screenshot by CNET

The iPhone 13 models are now available (already backordered, in some cases). To help you avoid having to comb through the fine print, we've outlined the key details on the three carriers' respective trade-in offers. 

Note: These deals don't include taxes in their prices, which are often based on the full price of the phone. Some carriers may also charge a one-time activation or upgrade fee (usually around $30) as well. 

Sarah Tew/CNET
  • The deal only applies to those with an unlimited plan and a 36-month installment plan. 
  • You also must have an eligible trade-in that's in good, working condition. The iPhone 11 and 12 lines (and XS Max), as well as recent phones like the Samsung Galaxy S20, S21, Note 20, Google Pixel 5 and LG Wing, are among the phones that can get the full discount on the iPhone 13 Pro. 
  • Others, like the iPhone X, XS and XR, Galaxy S10 line, Pixel 4 line and OnePlus 8 line are among the phones able to get the iPhone 13 Mini for free. You can check how much your device is worth at AT&T's trade-in site.
  • As with other carrier deals, you won't get the full value upfront, with AT&T instead dishing the discount as a monthly bill credit for the next three years to keep you on its network. If you switch carriers or cancel service early, you'll be responsible for the remaining balance on the phone. 
Verizon/Screenshot by CNET
  • Current and new Verizon customers can get an iPhone 13 Pro (128GB only) with select trade-in -- damaged phones included -- on a "qualified" unlimited plan.
  • Eligible plans include Play More, Do More and Get More as well as the older Above Unlimited and Beyond Unlimited. Note: The line you are upgrading will need to be on one of these plans. 
  • If you move your phone number to Verizon from another provider, you can get up to $500 to "help you switch carriers."
  • Similar to AT&T's promo, the trade-in credit (up to $1,000) is applied in monthly installments over 24-30 months. The promotion credits will end if you leave Verizon or change your plan. 
  • The exact value will adjust based on the phone you are buying and trading in. For the full $1,000 on an iPhone 13 Pro you need to trade in an iPhone 11 Pro/11 Pro Max or iPhone 12 Pro/12 Pro Max. 
  • The list is a bit wider if you want $800 off (for a free iPhone 13) or $700 off (for iPhone 13 Mini). Eligible phones here include the iPhone SE (2nd gen), iPhone X, 11, 12 Mini or 12. A large number of Android phones are also in this class including most Galaxy S phones (S9 or later), Note (Note 10 or later), Google Pixel (Pixel 4 or later, including the 4A line), OnePlus 7 (or later) and LG and (V50 or later, Velvet 5G UW and Wing 5G UW). 
  • If you don't have a phone to trade-in, you could in theory buy an iPhone SE (2nd gen) or Samsung Galaxy A42 5G. Both phones retail for $400 and Verizon will give you a trade-in value of up to $800 so long as you are buying a new iPhone and meet all the other listed requirements mentioned above. 
  • Verizon will take broken phones including ones with busted screens, but they can't have any battery damage. All trade-in devices will also need to have Find My features turned off. 
  • More details are outlined in the release here.
Sarah Tew/CNET
  • T-Mobile is offering new and existing users up to $1,000 on the iPhone 13 Pro, $800 on the iPhone 13 and $700 on the iPhone 13 Mini with an eligible trade-in, but you will need to have its top Magenta Max unlimited plan and buy directly from them. 
  • Older top plans from T-Mobile or Sprint are also eligible. For older T-Mobile plans this includes Magenta Plus or One Plus. For Sprint, this includes Sprint Max, Plus or Premium Unlimited. 
  • Credits from the trade-in will be distributed over the course of 30 months. If you leave T-Mobile before then, you will forfeit whatever is left and need to pay off the balance owed on the phone. 
  • For the $1,000 off you will need to purchase an iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max and trade in an iPhone 11 Pro or 11 Pro Max, or an iPhone 12 Pro or 12 Pro Max. 
  • The list is a bit broader for the "up to $800 off" list. Eligible phones here include the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini, iPhone 11, and iPhone X/XR/XS/XS Max. You can also trade in a variety of Android phones including the Galaxy S20 and S21 lines, Note 10/Note 20 lines, Motorola Razr 5G and OnePlus 8 5G and 8T 5G. 
  • Older devices can get up to $400 off a new iPhone. Full details can be found by clicking on Terms and conditions for the deal on T-Mobile's website. 

It is also worth noting that T-Mobile has added a new Magenta Max iPhone upgrade program it calls Forever Upgrade that will guarantee you "up to $800" back (up to $700 for the Mini, or less if you're buying an iPhone 12 today) in future trade-in credits. 

The catch here: You will need to wait two years to trade in the iPhone 13 or iPhone 12 that you're buying today to get the credits, and you will need to be on Magenta Max for the entire time. 

Those with other T-Mobile plans can get up to $500 off, but you will need to trade in an iPhone 11 Pro or 11 Pro Max, or an iPhone 12 Pro or 12 Pro Max to get that discount. Those with older devices can get up to $400 offer, with full details available by clicking on the "On us with Magenta Max with trade" link on T-Mobile's product pages. 

Read moreThe best iPhone 13 deals are here: Target, Best Buy, Verizon and more