Verizon Wireless said today it will begin charging customers a $30 upgrade fee beginning April 22 for buying a new device at a discounted price.
AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile USA already impose the fee. Verizon is the last of the major operators to make customers pay extra for getting a new phone on contract.
"This fee will help us continue to provide customers with the level of service and support they have come to expect," company spokeswoman Brenda Raney said in a statement.
Customers can trade in their old devices through Verizon's trade-in program "as a way to save money or potentially offset the fee completely," she said.
Upgrade fees have long been in place at other carriers. Sprint doubled its upgrade fee from $18 to $36 last year, and AT&T followed suit in February when announced it would charge existing customers $36 to get a new phone. T-Mobile USA charges customers $18 when they move to a new device.
Operators say the fees are necessary to offset the cost of pricey new smartphones which cost more to subsidize than more basic devices. The charges mean both new and current customers pay extra charges nearly every time they get a new device, since operators also charge activation fees.