Want to pay less for your cell phone each month, without being locked into a service plan? Month-by-month financing and early upgrade plans are the big thing in wireless right now, but if you're hoping to save even more - and you're happy to trade in your handset every 18 to 24 months - Sprint's Leasing option could help you pay less for your devices long-term.
How does Sprint Flex Lease work?
In a standard device financing agreement, a customer will pay off their new phone or tablet in monthly installments – usually over 24 months – instead of buying it at full price outright. After the full term of payments has been made, the device is yours to keep, sell, or trade in for a new handset.
Sprint’s leasing option is a little different. You’ll still make a set monthly payment for your device, but only over an 18-month period, and you’re not paying off your phone or tablet in order to own it.
Instead, you’re merely leasing the device from Sprint, and the carrier will still technically ‘own’ the gadget you’re using. At the end of the leasing period, Sprint will still own the device; if you want to keep it for yourself, you can pay an additional amount in order to purchase it (usually between $150 - $200).
Otherwise, you can hand the phone back to Sprint in good condition and either upgrade to a brand-new handset, or cancel your service entirely. Either way, you won’t get to keep the device you’ve been using for the past 18 months unless you pay off the remaining balance.
If you want to keep using your leased device but don’t want to commit to buying it from Sprint, your final option is to continue to lease it on a month-to-month basis.
Sprint Flex: Lease your phone and have the option to upgrade or purchase later. In other words, at the end of the 18 month leasing period you have plenty of options: upgrade, continue leasing, return or own). You can even still choose to buy the phone outright at point of sale. This is available for most new, high-end cell phone models. A credit check is required.
Sprint Deals: This leasing option is geared towards the financing of affordable smartphones, with out without a credit check.
- Customers who apply for and receive credit with Sprint, can take advantage of Sprint Flex on a postpaid plan:
- For entry-level devices, customers pay $5 per month with $25 down.
- For higher-end devices, customers pay $10 per month with $30 down.
- Customers who prefer to bypass a credit check with Sprint, can get an instant discount on the same “value menu” of smartphones, on a Sprint Forward prepaid plan:
- For entry-level devices, customers get 50 percent off the suggested retail price.
- For higher-end devices, customers pay 25 percent off the suggested retail price.
Sprint’s iPhone Forever is an upgrade program that allows you to get the latest iPhone every year. If you’re interested in the always having the latest iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, you can sign up to lease under agreement over 18 months: this plan includes the option to hand in your leased phone and upgrade to a new Apple handset after one year of payments.
If you prefer to go with Android, you currently have two options: the Samsung Galaxy S8, and the Samsung Galaxy S8+. Sprint has resurrected its Galaxy Forever leasing deal for both devices, which works exactly the same as the above iPhone Forever offer. Customers can lease over an 18-month period, with the option of upgrading to a newer model Galaxy smartphone after 12 months.
Regardless of your credit score, you’ll still pay the same amount in total over the course of your leasing agreement. Whether you pay zero dollars upfront and a higher monthly payment, or an initial payment and a smaller monthly charge, the total at the end of the leasing term is the same.
Will it really save me money?
Generally, yes. If you plan on changing devices every one or two years, are looking for a way to pay less for your phone and cell plan each month, and you're okay with not technically owning your device, it's the overall cheapest option for many phones.
To give you an idea, we've compared the price of the new Samsung Galaxy S8 over 18 months on three Sprint plans: the 18-month Galaxy Forever lease, Sprint Flex Pay (to own), and buying outright. We've also added in the cost of an unlimited plan (or equivalent) for each option; smaller plans will be less expensive.
Samsung Galaxy S8
|Sprint Lease over 18 months||Sprint Flex over 24 months||Full price upfront|
|Unlimited Plan||$50 per month||$50 per month||$50 per month|
|Monthly device payment||$31.25||$31.25||
|When do you own your device?||If you decide to buy at the end of 18 months||At the end of your 24-month installment plan||Immediately|
|Cost after 12 months for plan and phone||$975.00||$975.00||$1350.00|
|Cost to purchase phone||$183 (approx.)||-||-|
|Total cost to pay off your phone, including monthly service plan||$1467.00 over 18 months if you hand back phone, $1650.00 if you opt to buy||$1950.00 over 24 months||$750.00 upfront, or $1950.00 over 24 months|
If you do not qualify for Sprint's $0 down lease offer, you'll instead pay $225 upfront for the Samsung Galaxy S8, and a monthly repayment of $18.75 over 18 months. Whichever option you qualify for, your total cost will still be a minimum of $1462.50 over 18 months on Sprint's $50 Unlimited plan (and $1650 if you decide to pay the Purchase Option price).
Buying your leased device
When you reach the end of your leasing term, you have the option of buying your device from Sprint. You’ll need to head to your nearest Sprint store and pay the Purchase Option Price, which can be found on your lease agreement (as mentioned above, this is about $200 or less - basically, the difference between what you've already paid, and the full price of your leased phone).
Ending your lease early
If you decide to cancel your lease before the 18 or 24-month lease term is up, Sprint will require you to pay the remaining lease payments - as well as the Purchase Option Price. After this, you are free to leave and take your device with you.
If you decide to return your phone to Sprint, you'll receive an account credit to the value of the Purchase Option Price, provided the device is in good working condition. But you won't be refunded the extra monthly lease payments you made in order to cancel your contract.
Continuing to lease
If you decide to keep leasing the phone month-by-month after your agreement ends, you can keep paying the same monthly amount for as long as you wish to lease your device. However, if instead of paying $0 down, you were required to make a down payment when you signed your lease, be careful.
Although you’ve been paying a reduced monthly payment so far, if you continue to lease after two years, your payment will go up to the original monthly amount quoted for $0 upfront customers.
Switching between lines and accounts
If you have more than one line on your Sprint account, you’re free to swap your leased device between lines. If you want to take a Sprint Lease handset to a different account, you’ll need to contact Sprint for assistance.
So is it worth it?
The big downside to going with a lease - versus buying the phone subsidized, outright or on an installment plan - is that you don't get to keep your device at the end of the payment/leasing period, unless you pay extra. This means that you won't be able to recoup some of the cash you spent leasing the device by selling it second-hand, or trading it in at Sprint (options which are available to customers who own their handsets).
Overall, if your main concern is getting your hands on new devices easily and for the lowest price over two years, Sprint Lease will save you the most money compared to the carrier's other options. Just make sure that you intend on sticking with the plan for the full term of your lease, and that you're okay with the program's terms before you sign up.
If you’re signed up to a 18-month Sprint Lease plan with iPhone Forever or Galaxy Forever, you'll receive an automatic early upgrade option after your first year. After 12 months of payments, you’ll be able to upgrade your leased device to a newer model (but again, you’ll need to hand back your phone to do so).
Customers on older 24-month agreements can add an Early Upgrade option to their plan for $5 per month. Again, after 12 months of consecutive payments (including the $5 monthly fee), you can hand in your leased device and upgrade to a newer phone.
Original notepad, pen and phone image via Shutterstock
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Sprint is considered one of the "big four" carriers in the United States. Sprint's many retail locations are scattered throughout the country, and the company is headquartered in Overland Park, KS.
- Network Sprint operates a nationwide 3G/4G CDMA network on the 1900 MHz PCS band. Sprint's LTE band frequency will support bands 25 and 41.
- Coverage: Sprint consistently ranks #4 in national network coverage tests.
- Where to Buy: Sprint sells their plans and phones online and at their over 4,500 stores.
- Bring Your Own Phone to Sprint: To bring your phone to Sprint, it must be unlocked and have previously run on CDMA technology. Find out more about bringing your own phone here.
- Tethering: Customers who purchase Sprint's Unlimited Freedom Plan will get 10 GB/month for tethering purposes. Customers without the Unlimited Freedom Plan can purchase network data for $15/1GB.
- Prepaid: Sprint's prepaid arm is called Sprint Forward.
- Taxes & Fees: Sprint will charge state taxes and fees on top of your monthly cell phone plan cost.
Fact: Sprint's origins stretch all the way back to 1899 (!) with the founding of Brown Telephone Company in rural Kansas. Learn more about Sprint via our carrier review.