You’re looking to get the best deal on the Galaxy S21. I’m here to help.
I compared all the trade-in deals, promotions, and discounts, and I analyzed the numbers to find you the best deal possible.
I did this for both new and existing customers on Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.
I also looked at the best deals for getting an unlocked Galaxy S21 so you could use the phone on whatever plan or carrier you wanted to.
And the crazy thing is that some of these deals are so good, you can actually make money.
Get the Most Money for your Old Phone
The first step in getting the best deal on the Galaxy S21 is making sure you’re getting the best value for your current phone.
You have four options here:
- Sell your phone online for cash, on sites like Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or my personal favorite site Swappa
- Trade-in your phone your phone for cash on sites like OCBuyBack or Decluttr
- Trade-in your phone to Samsung, Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile for trade-in credit
- Give your phone to a friend or family member who needs it
To find out which option gives you the most money for your old device, I analyzed the resale value and trade-in credit of the Galaxy S7 up to the S20 from Samsung, Swappa, OCBuyback, and Declutter, as well as from the major carriers.
Let’s start with Samsung’s trade-in credit, selling your phone on Swappa, or trading it in to OCBuyBack or Decluttr.
Taking a look at the prices here, and you can immediately see Samsung and Swappa are offering the better options. In fact, Samsung is actually offering the most for your old device.
You can get anywhere from $100 to $200 more by trading your old phone into Samsung vs selling it online on Swappa.
Plus you can get an extra 10% off your order by using Rakuten.
That’s not the full picture.
It turns out you can actually BUY the S21 off of listings already on Swappa for about $170 to $200 off! And these aren’t just gently used phones, many are new-in-box phones!
Adding the savings you get from buying on Swappa with the price you get from selling your phone on Swappa, and your total savings can potentially be better than what you get with Samsung.
And for some buyers, depending on what state you’re in and what state the listing is in, you may not have to pay sales tax on your purchase on Swappa. This would have saved me an extra $39.
Yes, it’s a little more work taking photos of your device and shipping it to the buyer, but I’d almost prefer Swappa over Samsung.
With Samsung, I’ve heard stories of people trading in eligible devices and then not getting the promised trade-in credit.
It would be a total bummer to send a phone in, not get credit, and suddenly be out $200 to $700.
With Swappa, I’m more familiar with the platform. I know the moment my device sells I get that instant deposit into my PayPal account, and I know I’ll get the amount I list my device for (minus the 3% PayPal fee and shipping), as opposed to leaving the trade-in value up to chance.
If you're interested in learning more about what the buying and selling process is like on Swappa, watch my video tutorial on how to create a Swappa listing:
Either way, I do like both Samsung and Swappa because you’re getting unlocked Galaxy S21.
Unlocked means the phone isn’t tied to any carrier or contract, and you’re free to use the phone on any plan you choose.
And getting an affordable cell phone plan may actually be cheaper in the long run than financing the device from a major carrier.
More on that later.
Best Carrier Trade-in Deals on Galaxy S21
But ohh man, if you are willing to trade in your device to your carrier, you can get an even better deal than what we’ve covered so far.
Check this out––for new customers, Verizon is offering up to $750 of trade-in credit, while AT&T and T-Mobile are essentially giving the baseline Galaxy S21 away for FREE with up to $800 of trade-in credit.
And for existing customers, the deals pretty much stay the same. The only difference is that Verizon drops their trade-in value from $750 to $600 on the S8 and newer, and surprisingly the S7 gets bumped up from $350 of credit to $600 of credit.
In fact, these deals are so good, you could potentially actually make money. If you had one of those newer devices like the S10 or S20, what you could do is sell your phone on Swappa, use the money to buy the S9, profit from the money left over, and use that device as your trade in device.
S10 and S20 users on Verizon may also consider going with Samsung or Swappa, as you’re getting close to the same deal on the S10 and a better deal for the S20, and because you get the discount immediately as opposed to having the discount being applied with monthly credits.
Downside to Carrier Deals: You're Locked Into 24- to 30-month Financing Agreements
The big disadvantage with these carrier financing deals, despite being great discounts, is that they lock you into a financing agreement instead of applying the trade-in credits all at once.
Verizon says the promo credit is applied over 24 or 30 months.
AT&T applies the discount in bill credits over 30 monthly installments.
And T-Mobile is offering their discount via 24 monthly bill credits.
This means you are essentially locked into your plan and the S21 device for two years or longer. Sure you could switch, but you’d owe the remaining balance due on the phone. That defeats the purpose of getting the deal in the first place.
For some people, the financing agreements are totally fine. You’ve been with your carrier for a long time, you know you’re not switching anytime soon, and you know in two to three years you can just upgrade your device and take advantage of another trade-in deal.
For others though, the flexibility and freedom of the unlocked models from Samsung and Swappa are definitely enticing.
You can switch plans or carriers any time you wish, helpful if you move cities and find coverage is better on a different network, or if your data usage changes and you no longer need an unlimited plan, such as when you’re working at home and on Wi-Fi most of the time.
Breaking-down the Financing Agreements and 2-Year Total Costs
So now that we’ve covered what the best options are for getting the most value out of your old device, let’s actually break down what the financing agreements are, how much you’re paying per month, the total cost over the two-year agreement, and how exactly to get these promotions.
Samsung offers you the option to pay in full, or by using Samsung Financing for either 24 or 36 months. For this example, I’m using the 24-month financing option.
With Swappa you have to pay in full price.
With Verizon you’re looking at $8.33 per month.
AT&T is completely free with the baseline S21 with up to 800 dollars of credit. And T-Mobile ranges from $25 per month down to zero dollars per month depending on your trade-in device.
Of course on paper the carrier financing agreements look awesome. Getting a device for free is super enticing.
But when we look at the total cost over a two-year period, factoring in the cost of the cell phone plan to go with the phone, that’s where things get interesting.
Financing the S21 through Samsung or buying it on Swappa lets you get the unlocked model, which works with any plan and carrier.
This lets you choose a more affordable plan that meets your needs, such plans from Mint Mobile, US Mobile, Red Pocket or Visible.
These carriers offer plans that range from $25 to $30 per month and include 10GB to truly unlimited data––easily enough data to meet the needs of 90 to 95% of average consumers.
These plans are also substantially cheaper than the plans than the $70 to $80 unlimited plans you’re locked into with the financing agreements from Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.
In fact, if we look at the two-year total cost for single-line users, you can see going with an unlocked phone from Samsung or Swappa is the cheapest option. It saves you anywhere from $560 to $1,000, money you could put toward new tech, your next phone upgrade, or into an investment portfolio so the money could grow even more.
That said, when we look at the two-year total for four-line family plans, that’s when going with the carrier financing agreements may actually make more sense.
The cost per line drops to around $35 to $45 per month, and saving up to $800 per line with free upgrades to the S21 on AT&T and T-Mobile really pays off.
T-Mobile does come out to the cheapest option here, and they can save you anywhere from $480 to $1,760 over a two year period.
An interesting point to make is that going with a prepaid carrier still ends up being cheaper than financing the phone through Verizon for four lines, especially since Visible’s unlimited plan comes out to just $25 per month FLAT, all taxes and fees included, for a four-line plan. This alone saves a four line family anywhere from $1,900 to over $2000 over two years after all taxes and fees.
In fact, Visible also happens to be offering a discount on the S21: they are offering the phone for $792, including Galaxy Buds live, and offering you $200 Samsung gift credit.
How Exactly to Get These Deals
Okay, so how exactly do you get these deals?
For Verizon, all you need to do is be on a qualifying postpaid unlimited plan, purchase the S21, and then trade-in your eligible device.
On AT&T, the process is pretty similar. You need to be on a qualifying AT&T unlimited plan, purchase the S21, and then trade-in your old device.
Two things to note about trading in your device with AT&T:
- I HIGHLY, highly recommend you go to a physical AT&T store to make the trade-in and get the credits applied to your account. Redditors have shared horror stories of the online trade-ins not qualifying, the shipping making the device arrive late, and more.
- If, for whatever reason, you do need to mail in your device, you need to make sure you use code TRADEINOFFER20 during the online process.
And lastly on T-Mobile, you guessed it, it’s the same. Buy the S21 and then trade-in your eligible device.
For all carriers, the discount is applied via bill credits, and it may take a few billing cycles for the credits to appear. The carriers should backdate the credits to cover any additional payments you may have made on the device though.
With Samsung the trade-in process is similar. Buy the S21, trade-in your old device. And during the checkout process is where you have the option to pay via Samsung Financing.
And on Swappa, there is currently no financing option, but you can basically find a listing for the device you want, check the photos to make sure it’s in good cosmetic condition or still new-in-box, and then place your order.
Four More Deals on the Galaxy S21
Finally, I found four more deals on the S21 that you may consider:
- Visible is offering the S21 for $792 and bundling in a free pair of Galaxy Buds Live and $200 of Samsung credit
- Xfinity Mobile is offering $400 off the S21 when you activate a new line and transfer your number
- US Cellular is offering $750 off the S21 via monthly bill credits
- And finally, I’m offering my tears of sadness for completely free because I missed out on all of these deals, stupidly paid full price for my preorder, and am now butt-hurt about it
So hopefully you get a better deal than me, and I hope this article is helpful.
If you did find it helpful, share it with a friend!