Remember when you had to go to the Apple store to buy an iPhone? Or when AT&T became the first cellular provider of the iPhone and if you were a Verizon customer (like me), you had to wait for the iPhone to come to Verizon?
Over the years Apple has made the iPhone available through several retailers that serve as ‘Authorized Apple Resellers’. This is why you see Apple products for sale at Best Buy, Walmart, Target, and many other retailers, including my favorite, Costco.
As resellers, there are restrictions put on iPhone sales by Apple. The base price of the iPhone is set by Apple which allows resellers to add value in other ways, like store cash cards or related products.
Cellular providers are also ‘Authorized Apple Resellers’ and offer many ‘deals’ on iPhones that come with conditions (read the fine print!) and are delivered as credits on your bill over a period of time, ensuring you’ll stay on their cellular plans for a longer period of time.
You may be wondering if it’s a good idea to buy an iPhone from Costco. Can you get any special deals?
In this article you'll learn the advantages and disadvantages of buying your next iPhone from Costco:
Costco Wireless Kiosks
- Costco has outsourced cell phone and wireless plan sales to Wireless Advocates, a company wholly owned by Car Toys. Wireless Advocates actually runs the kiosks that are located in the physical Costco locations.
- The big 4 cellular carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile) products and promotions are available at the Costco Wireless kiosk.
- Other carriers are not available and you can’t buy an unlocked phone at Costco (you’ll have to go to the Apple store).
- The iPhone deals offered by your cellular provided are usually also available at Costco, plus Costco may have an additional Costco cash card incentive, or iPhone gear promotion.
- You can view current Costco iPhone offerings before heading to the warehouse.
- The Costco 90 day return policy on electronics applies to cellular phones.
- You’ll need to go to the Wireless kiosk first to see if they can help you. If not, you can go to Costco’s customer service counter for a refund.
- Carrier conditions apply (reconciling the monthly plan and discounts).
- The Verizon return policy is currently 14 days plus a $50 restocking fee so Costco's 90 day return policy is a big advantage!
- The Wireless kiosk employees are typically knowledgeable about all carrier promotions and plans.
- If you purchase an iPhone at another retailer, say Walmart, they usually sell all types of electronics and may not be as knowledgeable about the latest, greatest iPhones.
- If you purchase at your Cellular carrier, like Verizon, they are only knowledgeable about their own offers and plans and may provide biased advice.
- I personally don’t worry about my plan details when buying a new iPhone, knowing that I can adjust my plan at any time with Verizon.
- You can purchase Apple Care+ at the Wireless kiosk and get advice on other carrier protection plans that are available.
- Ask the Wireless kiosk employee about the iPhone cases and screen protectors available at Costco. When you buy a new iPhone, the kiosk employees will even apply the screen protector for you and ensure its applied correctly (without bubbles!).
- The Wireless kiosk may not have the iPhone you want in stock. This is usually the first question you’ll be asked. You can ask about availability at nearby Costco warehouses.
- The wait at the Wireless kiosk can be long since there is usually only one person working at the kiosk, helping one customer. Visiting Costco at non-peak hours can help with this situation.
- The Wireless kiosk doesn’t allow you to buy the phone at full price anymore.
- This is likely a carrier restriction since rebates are pro-rated over 24 months and applied to your bill.
- However, ask about making a down payment on your iPhone if you’d like to pay more up front.
- Check out the full list of FAQ’s for Wireless Advocates
- The kiosk employee won’t help you transfer your iCloud data in the warehouse.
- They will activate your new iPhone with the carrier and make sure you can send and receive calls on your new iPhone.
- They won’t help you recover data from your iCloud backup. The kiosk employee told me it was because they don’t have Wi-Fi access in the warehouse.
- They will give you printed instructions on how to transfer your iCloud data from your old iPhone to your new iPhone.
- If you’re trading in an old iPhone, you’ll receive instructions on how to mail in the device. Trading in an old phone is likely a condition on many promotions.
Be aware that these advantages and disadvantages are likely to change over time, so make sure you check with the Costco website, searching for iPhone to find out the current process for selling iPhones. Right now, you're transferred immediately to the Wireless Advocates website.
So what do you think? Do the advantages of the generous return policy outweigh the need to transfer your data by yourself?
The next time you’re in the market for a new iPhone, make sure you check out the Costco iPhone deals.
Who knows, in additional to organic eggs and unsalted mixed nuts, you may just walk out of the warehouse with a brand new iPhone!
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