Verizon to offer iPhone credit for returned phones

If you or a fellow Verizon Wireless customer are experiencing some post-holiday mobile phone buyer’s remorse, the iPhone’s newest carrier will offer a gift card if you trade in your phone and buy an iPhone 4 for full price. Fortunately, though, you might not have to spend all that money if you bring back your phone under Verizon’s existing return policy.

As Electronista notes, Verizon has quietly announced that if you bought a new phone during the holiday shopping season, you can receive up to a $200 Visa debit card when you bring the phone back to Verizon and purchase a new iPhone 4 at the full price of either $599 for the 16GB model or $699 for the 32GB model. (The phones cost $200 and $300, respectively, with a two-year commitment.) This goes for smartphones like a BlackBerry or Android phone, feature phones, or even pre-owned phones.

To be eligible for the Visa debit card, you must have bought your existing phone between November 26, 2010 and January 10, 2011. You also need to jump on this deal by the end of February and must be a consumer with five or fewer lines on your account. However, it’s worth pointing out a few key points about this deal that will probably make it less appealing for the bulk of potential customers.

First, the Visa debit card that Verizon Wireless is offering cannot be applied to your new iPhone 4. It is essentially an instant rebate in the form of a gift card that you can use on phone accessories or taking your significant other out to dinner.

More important is the fact that Verizon Wireless’s general return policy for phones (and contracts) purchased over the holiday seas is 30 days. So many of you may still have some time to just return the phone, get your money back for it, and get out of the contract that you signed (less the cost of any minutes, messages, and data that you used during your first month). This way, you can save a few hundred dollars by just waiting for Verizon to start offering the iPhone and going through the signup song and dance one more time.

I called Verizon Wireless’s customer support to verify this information and got another interesting tidbit. While the carrier’s return policy has been 30 days for quite some time, it changed this policy on January 16, 2011 to only 14 days. Holiday shoppers still get the 30-day policy, I confirmed, but you now only get to spend half of that time with any phone (and accompanying contract) purchased after the middle of this month.

Updated at 12:36pm PT to reflect Verizon's proper return policies.

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