Cell Phones

Cell Phone Returns

Whether you buy from a carrier or a retailer, you should be able to return the phone (and cancel your service) within a specified time period.

Cell Phone Returns: Everything You Need to Know

There are plenty of reasons why you may want to know about cell phone returns. Did you just purchase a new phone and it isn’t living up to your expectations? Maybe the service isn’t very good where you live or work? If you’ve experienced issues with returning products in the past, don’t worry. We’re going to cover everything you need to know about cell phone returns by delving into return policies per service provider, so you can get your money back and find a better alternative.

General Terms: 14-Days for Cell Phone Returns

One of the easiest ways to return your phone is to send it back in the first 14-days after purchase. Most cell phone providers will give you a refund for both the phone and let you out of the service in this initial period as long as you return the phone in the same condition as it was when you bought it.

Now let’s say you’ve had the phone for about 6-months and you’re well past the initial cell phone returns policy and something happens. It is highly unlikely that a service provider’s cell phone warranty will cover a return after the initial 14 days. As T-Mobile’s Disclaimer of Warranties states, when you purchase a phone, you’re buying it “As Is“ with really no options for recourse.

Try Before You Buy with a New Phone

Want to try out a new cell phone before fully committing to buying it? Making sure you choose the right phone can be a daunting task with so many buying options. Aside from possible restocking fees, the standard “no-risk” 14-day phone trial really is there for you to make sure your new phone is perfect for you so take advantage of it.

If you’re purchasing a phone for a family member, this is another great way to make sure they will like it. The last thing you’ll want to do is buy a phone for your teen and they end up wanting something vastly different. Doing a try before you buy method is a fantastic way to make sure you make the right choice.

Cell Phone Returns - Company Policies

Understanding which of the service providers allow you to return your phone and whether you will eligible for a refund can be difficult. The SimpleTerms App gives you summarized cards that detail the individual return policies of each company.

  • Verizon Cancellation Policy: If you want to make a return to Verizon, make sure to do it within 14 days. You’ll have the option of making a return or an exchange. Make sure to return the phone in the same condition with all accessories in the original box. A $50 restocking fee may apply.
  • T-Mobile Cancellation Policy: You can return a cell phone to T-mobile within 14 days of purchase to be eligible for a refund. Bring the phone in the same condition, box, and accessories. You may have to pay a restocking fee as well.
  • AT&T Cancellation Policy: You have up to 14 days to return a phone and cancel service. You won’t get a refund on the activation fee unless you return the phone within the first 3-days. There will be restocking fees when applicable.

While we provided an in-depth summary of the contractual return policies here, it’s best to go to your specific provider’s website and read their return policy statements for the specifics.

When you return a cell phone to your provider, you’ll also be cancelling your line of service. Reactivating your line may carry an additional fee.

Top 3 Tips for What to Watch Out for When Returning Phones

If you want to make sure that you’ll be getting a full refund for your cell phone, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure there’s been no damage done to the packaging, phone, or accessories.
  2. Ensure your phone is in the same condition as when you bought it.
  3. Delete any data you may have put on the phone, which includes pictures, texts, etc. Remove your SIM card and reset your phone.

Each store will have different rules of their own, so make sure to do the necessary research about their cell phone return policies.


Here at SimpleTerms, we know that no one has the time or the patience to fully read and understand all the small print in a cell phone contract. Through a set of easy, quick to read summaries, we want to help everyone understand and take action on the key aspects of a contract that matter most, including the returns policy – so you can go through the process and get your money back with ease.

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