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Bedtime Stories - Tales from Our Commmunity

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Elijah Bailey
Elijah Bailey

Buying A Phone As A Gift _TOP_

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buying a phone as a gift

When it comes to smartphones, the list of things you can do with them keeps growing. Beyond video calling and texting, you can web-surf or game your way with ultra-fast 5G1 capabilities, take and share great pics and videos with portrait and cinematic photo and video modes, email friends, browse social media apps and catch up on the news. You can even read your favorite digital magazine or use your smartphone as a GPS device, health and fitness tracker, flashlight, radio or alarm clock.

With that in mind, think about how your loved one would use a smartphone. Do they travel a lot? Consider a compact design that makes it easier to carry around. Are they a fitness buff? Look for a smartphone that monitors their heart rate.

You can save yourself time and a long-term commitment by purchasing a smartphone or tablet at retail price and letting your loved one sign up for the plan. There are new models available as well as Certified Pre-Owned phones for a small budget. You buy the phone or tablet, and then let your loved one pay the charges for the services he or she wants.

Having trouble finding which smartphone or tablet to give? Think Verizon gift card, and give your special someone the opportunity to choose exactly the right phone or tablet. Choose from $25, $50, $75 or $100 cards to fit your budget. Use toward a new device or accessory purchase online or at any Verizon wireless store, or even to pay a Verizon wireless bill.

In general, I don't recommend buying a cell phone without checking if your recipient even wants one. From the type of phone to the choice of carrier, there are just too many variables here. What's more, unless you're willing to open service under your name (and be responsible for the payments), you can't activate or set up a phone for someone else if that person is not present.

Complaining about your cell phone carrier is a popular pastime, but that doesn't mean everyone would switch if they had the chance. If Uncle Kyle, for example, has an affordable service plan, loves a particular phone that's a carrier exclusive, or gets great reception where he needs it, he's likely to stick with his provider, even if its customer service is awful.

That's why it's important that you find out if he's willing to switch and which carrier he'd like to use. Verizon may be great for you, but if its network doesn't cover Kyle's house, then even the fanciest phone will be useless. Also, if he's still under contract, he may not be able to jump ship without paying an early-termination fee. Since that could be well over $150, ensure that your kindness won't result in a bite out of his wallet.

While we're on the subject, find out how long ago your recipient bought his or her current phone. Some carriers limit how often customers can upgrade to a new device at a subsidized price. That's beginning to change as carriers like Verizon loosen rules, but you'll typically pay a lot more to upgrade often. So if Cousin Caroline just bought a phone three months ago, upgrading now may be impossible or exorbitantly expensive. Also, some people may not want to change their service at all. They may enjoy the freedom of month-to-month service (see below) or they may have a really good grandfathered plan -- like one with unlimited data, for instance -- that they don't want to give up.

A smartphone can be a deeply personal gadget. Unlike a TV or a printer, you carry it with you at all times and there's a good chance that you're interacting with it constantly throughout the day. If a handset isn't intuitive or it just doesn't work, the person you've given it to is going to get irritated pretty quickly.

Consider also that some people see their phone as an extension of their personality. So before you buy, do your research on what kind of phone your recipient wants. Sure, the iPhone 6S may be latest and greatest Apple device, but not everyone wants one. Or to put it another way, you may love the Samsung Galaxy S6, but your spouse may hate it.

To boil it down, don't buy more phone than your recipients needs. Fancy smartphones deliver a certain "wow" factor, but your brother Tyler may just want a cheap, easy-to-use handset that makes calls and has only minimal features. Do your homework on which kind of features your recipient will want.

This takes some of the fun out of the gift-giving process, but the promise of a new smartphone can make an awesome gift. That way, your recipient can pick out the phone he or she wants and arrange for service while you just hand over your credit card. If you want that person to be able to unwrap something by the Christmas tree, you can use a toy phone as a stand-in, or purchase gift cards from a specific retailer. Another option is to buy an accessory like a phone case with a gift card inside. Just make sure the case is one that your giftee will like.

A great surprise gifting option, particularly for parents shopping for a handset for their kids, is adding a new line to a shared plan. Though not all carriers have them, these plans typically let you share unlimited phone calls and text messages, and a bucket of data between up to 10 phone lines. Even better, you should be able to add a new line without having your recipient present. If you're a parent buying for your kids, make sure you educate them on how many messages they can send per month and how much data and how many voice minutes they can use.

Another way to keep your gift a surprise is to buy an unlocked phone or one with no contract attached. It's then up to your recipient to activate the phone, giving them more freedom to choose the service plan that best fits their needs.

Up until 2013, you could only pursue these options with smaller carriers that sold only entry-level devices. That changed when T-Mobile announced that it was ditching contracts completely and moving exclusively to month-to-month service. As part of the switch, customers can either buy a phone outright at full price, or pay it off in monthly installments. Other major carriers such as AT&T and Verizon have responded in varying ways. Check with each carrier first.

Sometimes, even a gift bought with the best intentions may not work out. If that happens, know that most contract carriers will let you return a phone within a specific time frame. This grace period may vary, but usually lasts 14 to 30 days. If you take advantage of it, you can return the phone and (if applicable) end a contract without paying an early-termination fee. You will, however, have to pay for any voice or data service you've used, and you may incur a restocking fee, as well.

With the holidays just around the corner, you may be considering putting a smartphone under the tree for a lucky someone. Phones can make great gifts, but there are some unique challenges to buying a device for someone else. Our phone gifting guide is here to help things go smoothly. Here are four things to consider when gifting a smartphone:

The easiest people to gift a phone to are members of your household. If you are buying for your spouse who is already on your phone plan, then all you have to do is pick out a phone. If you are buying a first phone for a child, you can add a line to your family plan.

The best way to avoid this conundrum is to buy an unlocked phone. This way, the person you are gifting it to can add it on to his/her plan no matter which service provider they have. We strongly recommend taking this approach if you are buying for anyone other than a spouse or child. This also gives the recipient of your gift the freedom to pick out a phone plan that will meet their particular needs.

Most phones will come with a grace period, usually 14 to 30 days. This means that you can return the phone and end the contract without paying an early cancelation fee. You will still be on the hook for any minutes and data used, though. Be sure to let the recipient know how long they have to return the phone.

If you are gifting the phone as an update for someone, this will also ensure that their current phone remains activated until they get the new one. Different carriers have different policies about future dating, so make sure you ask for the details.

Big-ticket electronics are popular holiday gifts because stores tend to drop prices by a lot for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and prices stay low through the holiday season. If someone on your list is in the market for a game console, laptop, tablet or e-reader, this is the perfect time of year to save on them.

This can be easier said than done. As Summerson points out, the iPhone faces a unique problem. If you buy one from Apple directly, or buy a phone from Verizon or Sprint, it will include both the radios required to work on Verizon and Sprint as well as the radio most of the rest of the world uses. Once unlocked, that phone will work on just about any carrier.

If your recipient has a large phone, stick with something big. If it has a fingerprint sensor on the back, try to find a new phone with those same features. Some features that seem minor to you might require bigger changes for them. For example, if they have a headphone jack on their current phone, but you buy a new phone without it, then they might have to buy wireless headphones or adapters to use their phone the same way they used to.

Gift-givers often have an understandable reticence to just ask what their recipients want. Buying the right gift blindly shows you really understand your recipient. However, this is one area where you might want to ask anyway. 041b061a72


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