How to Shop for a Phone at Target and Save

Sign up for Target Circle, watch for sales, and use a RedCard if you have one.
circle of people using phones

Target is a great place to buy almost anything, including your next mobile phone. You can find a wide range of phones and accessories at the retailer, including many unlocked smartphones that you can take to the carrier of your choice. And having plenty of options makes it easier to find exactly what you want.

Target also offers solid discounts that may help you score a better deal than you would shopping at your cellular carrier. If you pick up a Target RedCard, you'll get discounts on purchases year-round, and Target's Black Friday sales often include great deals on mobile phones, as well.

If you're ready to buy your next smartphone, here's everything you need to know about shopping for a cell phone at Target.

How to Shop for a Phone at Target

Which Smartphones Does Target Stock?

Target stocks hundreds of different phones, including the latest versions of major models like the Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, and Motorola Moto. Most phones at Target are brand-new ones, but you can find pre-owned and refurbished models, as well. You'll also find a range of older-model phones, which can be a great way to save money, too. Last year's devices are still good, and usually get a significant price cut when new models come out. If you don't have your heart set on the very latest and greatest version, buying a slightly older phone can give you big discounts.

SEE ALSO: Ask an Expert: Is the New iPhone Worth It?

One thing you shouldn't expect to find at Target are preorders for the latest models, though, so you'll usually have to do those through the manufacturer's website. That means you can't expect to buy the brand-new iPhone at Target the same day it's announced; rather, you'll see it available for purchase when it's officially been released later on. And if the iPhone 14 — or any other brand-new phone — is in short supply, it may not be on store shelves right away. If you want a brand-new, top-of-the-line smartphone on release day, it may be best to preorder from the manufacturer instead of waiting to get it from Target.

If you're shopping for a smartphone at Target, it's also a convenient place to pick up accessories. The bull's-eye stocks cases, chargers, screen protectors, headphones, and a lot of other items to pair with your new phone purchase.

Which Cellular Carriers Does Target Support?

You can buy phones at Target that work with any major cellular carrier, though some will require more setup than others. Here are your options:

  • Phones with plans through AT&T: With these phones, you're typically under a contract and pay off the phone in monthly installments. This can make it easy to get a brand-new phone for an affordable monthly price, but remember you're locked into a contract, which allows for less flexibility. At the time of publication, Target was only offering newer-model iPhones with AT&T contracts, so these will be more expensive.

  • Phones with plans through Consumer Cellular: This carrier focuses on offering basic phones to seniors. These plans have no contract, but most of the Consumer Cellular phones Target sells are models more than a year old. That's great for savings, but may not be what you want, especially if you're looking for a smartphone with high-tech capabilities.

  • Unlocked phones: You can take unlocked phones to any carrier from whom you want to get service. These phones do not come with SIM cards, so they won't work out of the box — but unlocked phones give you the convenience of picking the plan and carrier you want. These phones may or may not have long-term contracts, depending on the type of plan you choose.

  • Prepaid phones: These phones are from AT&T Prepaid, Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, Mint Mobile, Simple Mobile, Total Wireless, and other carriers. With a prepaid phone you pay month-to-month for what you use, without long-term contracts. That gives you the flexibility to only pay for what you need, and lets you switch carriers whenever you want to.

No matter which cellular carrier you want to use, you can likely find a smartphone at Target that works.

How to Save on Cell Phones at Target

Use a Target RedCard
When shopping for mobile phones at Target, using a Target RedCard is the most reliable way to save. RedCard credit cards and debit cards give you 5% off most purchases at Target stores — including cell phones. Neither card has an annual fee, and they offer benefits beyond the 5% discount, like free 2-day shipping and extended return windows for products.

Pay for your Target phone purchase with a RedCard to save 5% on eligible items, including accessories.

There are restrictions, of course. RedCard's 5% discount doesn't apply to some items, including wireless protection program purchases and deposits required by certain mobile carriers. But you can get a discount on cell phones and accessories, making RedCard a solid way to get savings regardless of what's on sale right now — and you can stack discounts on sale items, too, making good deals even better.

Join Target Circle
Target Circle is another savings program to take advantage of, offering a variety of exclusive discounts. There's no guarantee that deals on cell phones or smartphones will be available, but it's worth signing up for Circle (which is completely free) to check for deals, because they can result in significant price cuts. And if you aren't signed up for RedCard, Circle offers 1% cash back on purchases (which you can only spend at Target). This doesn't stack with RedCard's 5% discount, but does give you a bit of savings if you don't want to sign up for a credit or debit card.

Take Advantage of Price Matching
If you see a good sale somewhere else — even after you've bought your smartphone from Target — you can also get price matching. If you see a lower price on an identical item at another store and it's currently in stock, Target will match the price. You can get price matching for up to 14 days after purchase, so even once you've bought a phone from Target, keep an eye out for sales. Target's price match policy does have exceptions, so read through it so you know if you can get a price adjustment. Be aware that Target (and most other retailers) won't price match Black Friday doorbuster deals.

Trade In Old Tech
Have an old phone you aren't going to be using anymore? You can trade in your smartphone (or just about any other tech) at Target in exchange for a gift card to use on a new phone. Depending on the age and condition of your trade-in, this can significantly cut the price of a new smartphone from Target.

Look for Sales
Target almost always has some mobile phones on sale, though the brand and model may not include what you want. Still, it's good to check to see if you can get sale pricing on any devices you're considering.

With the holidays coming up, you should be especially mindful of Black Friday and Cyber Monday events. This is often a great time to pick up a phone at a budget-friendly price, though bargains on brand-new models may be scarce. Don't count on big Black Friday discounts for new iPhones, for example, which are typically released in September or October, shortly before the Black Friday season starts. Discounts are possible, but may come with strings attached, like a new line activation requirement. However, you often find good prices on slightly older models, and may see iPhones bundled with gift cards — which can be a good deal as long as you'll use the gift cards.

What to Know About Target's Cell Phone Return Policy

If you decide your smartphone isn't right for you after you take it home, you'll want to be familiar with Target's return policy — which has a few extra caveats for mobile phones. All phones must be returned or exchanged within 14 days, and expect that you'll need to return a phone in-store even if you bought it online. If you have a Target RedCard, you have an additional 30 days to return items, unless it's a contract phone, which must still be returned within 14 days.

SEE ALSO: How to Shop Apple at Target: Get the Best Deals on the Devices You Want

If you return or exchange a mobile phone with a contract, it's possible you'll be subject to early termination fees for your cellular plan — so pay attention to the fine print of your contract. If you've opened the box, you may also have to pay a restocking fee of up to $35. Ask the Target Tech Rep about any fees when you return a cell phone, so you know if you'll owe anything because of the return.

Ready to shop? Check out the best Target deals available now!

Elizabeth Harper
Contributing Writer

Originally working in IT, Elizabeth now writes on tech, gaming, and general consumer issues. Her articles have appeared in USA Today, Time, AOL, PriceGrabber, and more. She has been one of DealNews' most regular contributors since 2013, researching everything from vacuums to renters insurance to help consumers.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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