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5 things to know before you buy a cell phone at Costco Wholesale

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Mike Timmermann, Clark.com

If you’re thinking about upgrading to a new smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy Note9 or Apple iPhone XS, the best place to buy one may be at Costco Wholesale.

Never stopped by the cell phone kiosk? There’s a chance you could find a deal the Big 4 wireless providers can’t beat.

RELATED: How I lowered my cell phone bill to $12/month

Costco’s best cell phone plans and deals

“If you’re a Costco member, don’t just go to your cell phone carrier. Go compare the offer that Costco is making versus what you’d get from your cell phone carrier,” money expert Clark Howard says.

Before you head to your local Costco Wireless Center, here are five things you need to know…

1. You can get a plan with Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint 

Costco offers cell phone plans from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint at the more than 500 kiosks inside its warehouse clubs, which are operated by a company called Wireless Advocates.

The plans are identical to what the carriers offer, but the sales representative will work with you to find the best one.

Costco doesn’t partner with discount providers like Cricket Wireless, Boost Mobile and Metro PCS, which typically have lower prices on unlimited and by-the-gigabyte data plans.

Read more about those options in Clark’s guide to the best cell phone plans and deals!

2. The latest smartphones are available for sale 

You’ll also find the hottest smartphones at the Costco kiosk. We checked online and these are just a handful of the devices available in September 2018:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
  • Apple iPhone XS
  • Google Pixel 2 XL
  • LG V35
  • LG G7
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force

Many phones are for sale with device payment plans that allow qualified customers to make monthly payments with no interest charges until it’s paid off.

Click here to browse available phones online before you hop in the car to visit the warehouse club.

3. You may receive perks the cell phone carriers don’t offer 

If the cell phones and plans are the same as the wireless providers, what’s the big deal? That would be Costco’s member-only specials!

“In addition to whatever deal you might get from your cell phone carrier to trade in your old phone or buy a pair of phones, Costco will give you additional bonuses,” Clark says.

Those bonuses may include free accessory kits, waived activation fees and even Costco Cash gift cards! See the latest offers here.

Costco Wireless Center (Image: Dreamstime)
Costco Wireless Center (Image: Dreamstime)

4. Prepare yourself for the paperwork

If you decide to sign up for a new cell phone plan at the Costco kiosk, be patient. Clark says the paperwork can take a little longer than if you just walked into your wireless provider’s retail store.

5. Costco has a 90-day cell phone return policy 

Costco is known for its generous return policy on most merchandise, but things work differently for cell phones.

When you buy a cell phone through one of the kiosks operated by Wireless Advocates, you have 90 days from the original date of purchase to return it.

According to its FAQ page, you should contact Wireless Advocates and not return your phone to Costco:

Although you can get a refund on your phone within 90 days, you may still be responsible for early termination fees if your service is canceled after the trial period, which is typically 14 days.

The length of the trial period varies by carrier and state, so read the fine print carefully before signing up.

Have you had an experience with the Costco Wireless Center? Let Team Clark know how it went in the comments section below! 

More Clark.com stories about Costco Wholesale: 

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