Adding Insult To Injury AT&T Jacks-Up Smartphone Upgrade Fee To Match Verizon At $20

AT&T just bumped its wireless activation and upgrade fee to $20 per smartphone on several of its plans, a 33 percent increase from its previous $15 charge, though save some of your outrage for Verizon. It was Big Red that rolled out a new $20 upgrade fee earlier this week, which AT&T apparently took as an opening to do the same.

Sure, we're just talking about a $5 price hike here, but what's annoying about the fee increase is that it's an arbitrary bump on top of what's an arbitrary charge to begin with. Does it really cost $15 or $20 for the dude in a blue shirt standing behind the counter to punch a few keys and click the mouse a couple of times en route to activating your overpriced handset? It doesn't matter, because like a honey badger, wireless carriers don't give a flip.

Money Wallet

Here's a look at AT&T's recently altered wireless activation and upgrade fees:
  • Activation and upgrade fees for smartphones with AT&T Next - Activation and upgrade fees are $20 per smartphone added or upgraded with AT&T Next.
  • Activation fees for installment agreements and bring your own devices - The fee is $20.
  • Activation and upgrade fees for two year agreement - Fees are $45. Note: Two year agreements are available only on select devices.
Note that the activation fee applies whether you're buying a new smartphone or bringing your own device. Why exactly does AT&T say it needs to charge an activation fee? That's a good question and one that you won't find an answer to among AT&T's documents.

As for Verizon, the wireless carrier says it implemented upgrade fees to "help cover our increasing support costs associated with customers switching their devices," but in all reality, it's a way to nickel and dime customers.