BillRack, your loyalty means everything to us and we are here to make sure we keep you as a happy customer. Please allow us to explore your options. Can you please clarify what type of plan you currently have with us? Also, we want to make sure you are able to get a new device that covers all of your needs. Can you please let us know what features and functions you are looking for in a new device?
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You can buy an unlocked phone from many different OEMs, but make sure that they are compatible with Verizon networks or it won't work. Once purchased, bring it in to your local Verizon store and they will add it to your account. Like whenever you get a new phone, you'll likely be charged an activation fee.
I had this same issue when getting phones for my kids. The phones offered were all either super expensive flagship phones or inexpensive phones that were about 2 generations behind and would probably not provide a good experience for my kids, who would want to play games and stream video. I wanted something in the $200 range that would last for awhile. I ended up settling on the Motorola Moto line of phones. The kids are happy and my wallet wasn't hit too bad. Very easy to add to my account.
Best of luck.
Why don't you let us know which phone you are looking to get and we can try to let you know if it will work with the network.