How to Get The Most Money for Your Used Phone

When selling your old cell phone, consider the size of the market, the condition of the phone, and the amount of effort you’re willing to go through.  Should you sell locally or reach out to more people?  It depends on where you live.  Small towns mean fewer buyers, even for popular devices.  But big cities have a lot more people unloading their phones at any given time.  This drives prices down.  In either case, selling locally will earn you less because people like to haggle.

How old is your phone?  Warranties usually expire after the first year and devices more than two years old may not be worth selling.  Is the phone in good condition?  Damage will lower the resale value, as will missing accessories.  Have you modified the phone?  That, too, will affect its value.  Finally, consider how much hassle you’re prepared for.  You generally get more money by selling directly but middlemen make the process painless.  The self-sale is generally more profitable but you’re responsible for your own advertising, negotiating, and shipping.  You earn the difference, in other words.  Dedicated buyback companies are often much easier.

4.  Online Marketplaces

Sites like Craigslist and eBay offer some of the best possible deals but there’s no guarantee of a sale.  You’ll need to be comfortable with waiting and taking risks.  A buyer may try to cheat you, or change the deal when you meet in person.  Even legitimate buyers can change their minds.  Craigslist has no fees and there’s a chance you’ll meet the best possible buyer (a cell phone collector) but the site is full of spam, scams, and other time-wasters.  Make sure you’re meeting in a safe place, such as a bank lobby.

eBay has a rating system and secure payment methods.  If you’re completely honest about the phone’s condition you have a good chance of getting quite a bit more than your starting price.  Then again, if you don’t have a reserve price, which costs extra, and nobody bids after the first time, you could end up selling for less than you wanted.  There’s also the various fees and shipping costs.

3.  Friends and Family

If selling your phone to strangers doesn’t work for you, why not sell to someone you know?  You probably have a friend or relative who could use an upgrade.  Maybe they know people in the market for a secondhand phone.  Posting on Facebook is easy and there’s less risk compared to dealing with strangers.  Plus you’ll probably get a good price since you and the buyer are already on friendly terms.  If you see this person regularly, all the better.

On the other hand, what if the phone breaks soon after they buy it?  What if the buyer gives you the repair bill or asks for a refund?  Even if you talked about these things before the sale, this could complicate your relationship with that person.  Things could be awkward if you run into them every day.

2.  Trade-In Programs

Brick-and-mortar stores like Best Buy take used phones too.  You can walk in at lunchtime, get a quote, and walk out with store credit or a check.  (Best Buy goes the gift card route.)   You don’t have to package your phone and risk it being damaged in transit.  Neither do you have to wait while the phone is being tested.  Some people may also prefer talking to an actual person.

Then again, that person appraising your phone behind the counter?  He works for the store, not you.  And traditional retailers pay a lot more to stay in business compared to online stores.  Add that to the fact that you’ll never get as much when you sell to a middleman and it might not be worth skipping lunch.

1.  Buyback Companies

Many people just want to get money for used phones.  And why not?  It’s an unused phone, not a second job.  Sites like exist to make the process as simply as possible.  They’ll ask you to describe the device, including any damage, then make you an offer.  As long as your assessment was accurate you can rely upon that offer.  Shipping is almost always free.  They can send you a box or you can print out a shipping label.  The company tests the phone, then pays you the full quoted amount when the device passes.  There’s no waiting for buyers, no risks, and no scams.  Best of all, you get cash.  Just get a quote, trade in your phone, and receive your money.