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The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ have officially hit stores. The phones offer upgraded biometric security features and a new super-slow-motion camera mode, along with other bells and whistles likely to please Samsung fans.
But pricing for the phones varies significantly, depending on the vendor and the payment plan you choose. In fact, three of the four major carriers are charging more than Samsung for the phones, so you're best option might be to purchase an unlocked model from Samsung itself.
If you're hoping to trade in your old phone and/or pay your new phone off over time, though, finding the best deal can be more complicated. To help you out, we’ve sorted through the various offers.
Here’s a look at what you’ll pay if you buy from Samsung or from each of the four major providers—AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon—starting with the least expensive options.
Just remember that the ability to sign up for a monthly payment plan hinges on your credit. And if you want the full trade-in discount advertised by a vendor, your old device needs to be in good cosmetic condition and solid working order.
If you’re willing to pay for the phone outright, look no further than Samsung's website. The tech giant has the lowest starting prices we’ve seen: $720 for a Galaxy S9 and $840 for an S9+.
Those prices apply to unlocked phones, which means you're not married to any one carrier. Switching plans is as easy as swapping in a new SIM card. Samsung’s website also sells models tied to specific carriers and those will end up costing you more simply because some carriers are charging higher prices for the phones.
If you'd like to finance your phone through Samsung, you can do that, too. The manufacturer will allow you to pay off an S9 or S9+ interest-free over a period of 24 months. And, after 12 months of payments, you have the option to upgrade. Simply return the phone in good condition and you get a credit for 50 percent of the amount you initially financed to spend on your next phone.
Samsung will give you credit if you trade in an old phone (as will the individual carriers). An S8, S8+ or S8 Active—or one of the latest iPhones or Google Pixel 2s—will get you $300 off, assuming it's in good condition, while older and damaged phones are worth less.
If you're buying the phone outright, that money will come off the sticker price. But if you finance, the credit will be spread over the 24-month period.
In order to qualify for the upgrade program, you have to sign up for Samsung’s “Premium Care” protection plan, which costs $12 per month. You also need to keep making those payments for the entire time you have the phone.
The plan provides you with in-person tech support for things like setting up your phone (a third-party company that works with Samsung will send a technician), an extension to the one-year warranty against manufacturer defects, and repairs or replacement of the phone if you accidentally damage it.
While you may have opted for that coverage anyway, especially if you're accident-prone, you should factor that fee into your overall cost before deciding on which deal to choose.
The Big 4 Carriers
This is the only major carrier offering the phones for the same base price as Samsung ($720 for the S9 and $840 for the S9+). So if you want a T-Mobile phone and you can afford to pay for it straight up, this might be the way to go.
If you’re looking to finance the phone, T-Mobile will let you take the S9 home and pay the $720 off in $30 interest-free installments spread over 24 months. You don't have to put any money down.
For the S9+, you agree to the same terms ($30 over 24 months), but must first pay the $120 difference between the two phones.
Regardless of which model you choose, if you cancel your T-Mobile service before the phone is paid off, you’re on the hook for the remaining balance.
When you bring a qualifying phone to trade in, T-Mobile will give you up to $360 off either the S9 or the S9+. On paper, that amounts to 50 percent off the price of an S9.
But you don’t get the discount up front; it comes in the form of monthly bill credits stretched over two years. If you cancel your T-Mobile service, you lose the credits.
The sticker prices from this carrier are $790 for the Galaxy S9 and $915 for the S9+. Like its competitors, AT&T has interest-free monthly payment options. Through the company’s AT&T Next program, you can pay $26.34 a month for the S9 or $30.50 a month for the S9+ and own your phone in 30 months.
There's a similar 24-month plan with slightly higher monthly payments. But in the end the S9 will still cost you $790 and the S9+ $915.
And as with any monthly payment plan, if you cancel your AT&T service before the phone is paid off, you’re on the hook for the remaining balance.
Like T-Mobile, AT&T is offering a discount that amounts to 50 percent off the list price for an S9 ($395), or the same amount in credits off the more expensive S9+. But, you don't need a phone to trade in.
So what's the catch? One of the phones needs to be for a new line of service that costs at least $55 per month before discounts. And you need to sign up for either a 30- or 24-month payment plan.
As you would expect, if you cancel service before your phone is paid off on this plan, you're on the hook for the balance of the phone's cost. The offer ends on March 31.
Pick this carrier and you can purchase a Galaxy S9 for $792 or an S9+ for $912. But you may be better off going with one of Sprint's lease deals, especially if you need two new phones.
In the basic offer, you pay $33 per month for an 18-month, interest-free lease ($594). After 12 payments ($396), you can either trade in your phone and upgrade to a new model or pay the balance on the full price and own the phone.
But the carrier is currently offering a "lease one, get one free" deal, where you can get two S9 phones for the same $33 monthly payment. The free phone technically comes in the form of a $33 credit on your monthly bill.
At least one of those phones needs to be a new line of service, while one of them can also be a line that's eligible for a phone upgrade.
Want to cancel your service early? Yep, you gotta pay off the balance.
With Verizon, you’re looking at base prices of $800 and $930, the highest among the major carriers. With the carrier's 24-month, interest-free payment plans, you can pay off a Galaxy S9 with monthly payments of $33.33, or an S9+ with monthly payments of $38.74.
Verizon is also running a buy-one, get-one deal with pretty much the same caveats as the other carriers.
You have to sign up for a monthly payment plan and the free phone comes in the form of a monthly credit. The free phone also must represent a new line of service. Cancel early and you have to pay up.
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