4 Things to Consider Before Buying a Phone as a Gift

Dec 2, 2019

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:


1.Consider the Phone Plan

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.

Things get more complicated if you are buying for someone outside your household. In this case, you will have to sign a whole new service contract. You can’t sign for someone else without them present, so if you want to keep your gift a surprise, you will have to be willing to pay for their plan for the length of the contract.

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.


2. Phones Are Personal

Most people use their phones multiple times throughout the day, and some people even see their phone as a reflection of their personality. Don’t assume that your recipient wants the latest model. They probably have strong preferences about things like Apple vs. Android, screen size, memory, and other features like the camera.

Do some careful probing about what your intended recipient looks for in a phone. It should go without saying, but you should also make sure that the person wants a new phone. If your mother insists she won’t use it or your sister just upgraded her device, then you should probably rethink your gifting options.

If you don’t feel confident that you know what phone the person wants, consider giving them a gift card for a retailer so they can pick it out themselves.


3.Think About Returns

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.


4.Time the Activation

If you are purchasing a phone with a contract, ask the carrier to future date the activation of the device. You can tell them to set the date to the day before or the day of your gift exchange. This way, you won’t be paying for the service while the phone is sitting under the tree.

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.

Happy gifting!