I've done it past 3 years and on Verizon, last 2 years, I was not charge the ugprade/activation fee. However, last year I did. I'm not sure what this year will do but I'm going to try my luck and ask to see if I can get that waived.
Hmm that’s a good question. I think I use the one apple includes. That’s why they ask for the carrier information during the ordering process so it can be activated without you having to swap SIM cards. Either way should work though.
I've done it on Verizon for several years and have had to pay their activation fee every time. Last year was an exception because the phones sent direct from China would not activate and I had to return them at an Apple store, cancel those loans on the IUP, get new phones, then activate. I had gone to Verizon store first and they could not activate them, so considering that they waived the activation fee ($35 per line if I recall correctly).