I have stayed with one carrier for last 10 years so I didn't have to pay any activation fee for a decade. However, I remember talking to a new carrier into waiving the activation fee wasn't a hard thing to do a few years ago. I wonder if it's still doable nowadays especially with AT&T who knows you can't go any where else if you want an iPhone. Costco does waive AT&T activation fee, but you can't have iPhone through Costco. Being a Costco member, that $36 activation fee feels just a little unnecessary.