Where to Sell Cell Phones

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Where to Sell Cell PhonesWith the newest iPhone and Galaxy Note iterations released, it may be time to start thinking about selling your old phone. I try to upgrade my iPhone every year for a few reasons. First, I love Apple products. No, I’m not an Apple fan boy, I just prefer iOS to Android. Second, I always have an upgradable line on my Verizon account that I hate to waste. And finally, I usually profit from the upgrade.

I realize not everyone upgrades to the latest and greatest tech right when it comes out, but even if you don’t, reselling phones can be a great way to earn some extra cash. So, if you have an upgrade coming up or if you have some old phones lying around, I’ll show you just how easy it is to sell them.

Online Marketplaces

Selling items online is by far the fastest and easiest method to move product, but you knew that already right? What makes it even better is the profit. Based on my experience, used phones sell for more on eBay than any other method listed here, however, it doesn’t always go smoothly.

Last year when I was selling my iPhone 5 and my wife’s iPhone 4S, I had nothing but problems. I sold my phone for about $400, which was great because I had just picked up the 5S for $399. I sold my wife’s phone for about $285, which was also not too shabby considering her new phone was $299. Those two sales were quick, easy, and quite profitable, but a month after both phones sold, it all went downhill.

I kid you not, both buyers (one was from Italy and the other was from Florida) opened a case within a day apart. The iPhone 5 purchaser said that my phone was a Sprint phone instead of a Verizon phone. Considering that I bought it on release day from a Verizon store to use on a Verizon plan, I knew this guy full of crap. The iPhone 4S purchases said the phone they received, a month later mind you, was an iPhone 4. Again, this was impossible because my wife and I never had an iPhone 4. the first iPhones we ever had were iPhone 4S’s.

It took about 3 months of back and forth communication between myself, the buyers, and eBay to settle the cases, but both were closed in my favor, thanks to the plethora of proof I had. Yes, i made good money on these sales, but the time it took and the risk of losing my money and my phones was not worth it. I don’t plan to sell phones on eBay any longer, unless the profit is considerably higher than everywhere else.

Sales Rating: 3/5 stars. The selling price is great, but the likelihood of scams is high.

Local Marketplaces

Craigslist and Facebook are two local marketplaces that can be very profitable when selling a used phone. Craigslist is an obvious one, because everyone uses it, however, Facebook is slowly catching on with the many marketplace apps it has available. I’ve only had experience selling items on Craigslist, so that is what I will primarily be talking about here.

When selling on Craigslist, everyone is going to try to haggle with you. There is no such thing as an unhaggled Craigslist sale, so just plan on it and mark your price up a little bit. Everyone does it, I promise. Knowing this, I marked my iPhone 4S up about $25 ($375) when I tried selling it on Craigslist 2 years ago. I immediately received 3-5 emails that were either completely scammy or low-ball offers. So, I waited it out a day or two and received a decent offer from a guy nearby.

I was sick the day he wanted to meet up at a Sprint store and purchase the phone, so I sent my wife instead (she’s a real trooper). He checked the phone over, verified with the Sprint representatives that it had a clean ESN and bought it on the spot, after a little haggling of course. That was quick easy $340 sale, but it did require a little extra leg work – pun intended.

Sales Rating: 4/5 stars. Selling locally usually takes a bite out of your profits and it requires a bit more work, but there are no selling fees and there are no “cases” or returns.

Trade In

I love trading in my phone, because it’s quick, easy, and it requires very little work. You simply enter in your phone’s information a website, send your phone in with the prepaid label that is provided, and wait for the money to hit your account. That’s all there is to it. It only requires about 5 minutes of your time and that’s it. The downside is that the profit you earn is likely much lower than any of the previously mentioned methods and trade ins usually pay in store credit.

I went with the trade in method for my most recent phones (2 – iPhone 5S’s) and I chose Amazon’s trade-in program above the other popular ones like Gazelle. I chose this method not only because it was easy, but because Amazon allows you to lock in a trade in price for iPhones for 45 days. So, you could lock in a trade in price today, wait 30 days for the price of an iPhone to go down then buy a cheap one and trade it in to Amazon. It’s a beautiful concept. 🙂

As I mentioned above, the downside to this is that you will receive store credit to Amazon instead of cash, but that didn’t matter to me since I shop on Amazon for everything.

I locked my 2 iPhone trade-ins in about 20 days before I actually sent them to Amazon for $400 and $383.50. When I actually sent the phones to Amazon, they were selling for $400 and $350, respectively. on eBay (before fees). It was a sweet deal!

Sales Rating: 3/5 stars. The ease of trade-ins is great, but the profit usually isn’t. I would only go this route if you don’t have much time or the trade-in offer is really good.

Promotional Offers

When new phones come out, many carriers and trade in companies have great promotional offers. For example, last month Verizon offered a minimum of $200 for an iPhone 4 when you bought an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. Since my wife and I already planned to get the 6 and 6 plus, the promotion was perfect. I picked up two iPhone 4s on eBay for $70 each and traded them back into Verizon for $400. It was a very easy $260 profit.

Sales Rating: 2/5 stars. Very rarely are promotional offers worth doing, but when they are max it out!

Tips for Selling Phones

  • Take a lot of high quality pictures. They attract buyers and it can save you in the event that a buyer opens a case on you.
  • You can sell phones that have cracked screens, bad ESNs, water damage, or any other type of damage on eBay and people will buy them. I recently ran into a situation where I needed two phones with good ESNs that only needed to turn on. I found two Galaxy S3s on eBay with cracked screens that you could not read anything on for $60. It worked out well for myself and the sellers.
  • Never fall for promotional offers. The deal above sounds great, but you should only take advantage of a promotional offer that makes you more money than any of the other options. That same promotion offered $200 for iPhone 4Ss and iPhone 5s, but you could make much more than $200 for those phones on eBay, Amazon, or Craigslist.
  • Goodwill is a great place to find used phones. They are usually older phones, but they can make you $20+ per phone.
  • If you have a one year old iPhone and you want the newest generation, but don’t have an upgrade, you could buy an off contract phone and sell yours to basically cut the price in half. For example, I sold my wife’s 32GB iPhone 5S for $383.50. The iPhone 6 she bought is $749 off contract, so the final price was $365.50. That’s only $66.50 more than the subsidized 2 year contract price.

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