Earlier this month, Verizon announced that it would no longer be offering 2-year contracts to subscribers. Existing customers, however, can still receive a 2-year contract on a new iPhone, Samsung Galaxy or other smartphone.

When Verizon joined its industry rivals recently and announced it was ending 2-year contracts, many customers registered reactions from disbelief to disappointment to downright panic. They wondered how they were going to get the latest iPhone or Galaxy Note 5; worried they would now have to pay full price for the new phones upfront, even though many of them didn't have that kind of expense planned in their budget. Verizon has the largest base of contract customers of all the top carriers, and many are still confused about their current options.

While it's true that new Verizon customers will no longer be able to sign up for a new agreement with Verizon on a 2-year contract, existing Verizon customers can rest assured. As long as they keep their current phone plan, Verizon is still offering the standard 2-year contracts, which basically subsidize the cost of the phone over the course of the contract length.

If you're not a current Verizon customer, or if you are and want an option similar to a 2-year contract, Verizon is also offering the option to pay the cost of the phone in 24 monthly installments. To determine the payment amount, you divide the base cost of the device by 24, making the monthly cost of a new iPhone or Galaxy Note around $30 or so depending on model and storage configuration. This may be tempting for existing contract customers who like the idea of receiving a new flagship smartphone or phablet for no money down. Existing contract customers are now paying a $40 monthly access fee, which is now being reduced to $20 on Verizon's new no-contract setup.That $20 each month is basically the extra cost of paying off the initial subsidy offered with a contract.

Existing Verizon customers who have contracts and are upgrade-eligible should carefully review and compare all of their options, including the possibility of purchasing a new phone outright, with a Verizon representative before deciding how to best finance their new phones. A lot depends upon what your current plan is, how much data you use, and what device you are interested in. The bottom line, however, is that if you're a Verizon customer and want to stick with the old 2-year contract system, you still retain that option.

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