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Verizon offering $100 to smartphone upgraders

The carrier is offering some bonuses to feature phone users to upgrade to a smartphone, including a $100 gift card that can be applied to a new phone or a mobile bill.

Verizon iPhone
Verizon iPhone Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless is offering some incentives to convince basic feature phone owners to upgrade to a smartphone.

Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney told CNET that customers with basic phones who are eligible to upgrade between now and the end of the year can currently upgrade to a smartphone. Such customers have until September 30 to make the switch.

In return for trading in their current feature phone, subscribers will receive a $100 gift card from the carrier via its Wireless Trade-In Program. The gift card can then be used for any type of purchase at Verizon, including paying off a bill. There are no restrictions as to which smartphone a subscriber chooses as long as they currently have a feature phone.

Raney explained that many Verizon customers are using basic phones but are starting to consume more data. So the company set up this promotion to help them move to a more "data-centric device."

Why the September 30 deadline? Raney said that such promotional dates are always strategic, but she declined to share the specific reason in this case.

With the impending launch of the next iPhone, the carrier would certainly want to drive new customers over to Apple's flagship phone as well as any of Verizon's Android phones. But recent reports say the next iPhone will hit the market in early October, with one source pointing to October 7 as the actual date.

Updated 9/2 at 4:30 a.m. PT with further details from Verizon.