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How to Sell Your Phone for the Most Money

by on September 07, 2014
in Phones and Mobile, Cell Phones, Tips & How-Tos, Money Savers :: 7 comments

smartphone with moneyIf you're looking to sell off your old smartphone for a bit of spending money or to fund the purchase of a new phone, cashing in on old electronics is easier than ever. Take your smartphone to a retail store for an immediate trade-in, or sell it online if you don't need the cash immediately.

So how do you know just what your old phone is worth? We checked all of the major options and priced out what we'd get by selling a 16GB iPhone 5 on AT&T in good working condition. But before we dive into where to sell, here are some general rules of thumb on what these buyers will — and won't — pay for:

  • Phones on different networks may be worth different amounts. Phones on AT&T or factory unlocked phones tend to be worth the most.
  • Your phone's current condition has a big impact on its value. Phones in like-new condition earn a premium. Cracked, or otherwise damaged phones, won't be worth as much. Phones that don't work at all may not be worth anything. Though some companies will be interested in buying them for parts, most trade-in programs will say no. Anyone who accepts broken phones will be noted below.
  • The older your phone is, the less it will be worth. Gear that's more than a couple of years old may not be worth anything at all, but you may be able to recycle it for free.
  • Personalization counts against you — a phone with personalized engraving will be worth less.
  • Many trade-in programs want the power cable and sometimes other original accessories. If you don't have these, the phone will be worth less.

Now that you know what to expect, let's look at the trade in programs available and what they'll pay.

In-store trade-in programs: Immediate credit

In-store programs are the easiest way to get value for your device. All you have to do is take your phone to the local store and hand it over. You'll get a gift card for the phone's value immediately — or if you don’t agree with their assessment, you can take your phone back and walk away.

The trade-off for convenience is price. These programs typically don't pay top dollar, and all of them pay you via a gift card, meaning you have to spend your money there.

In-Store Trade-in Services

  How it works What they'll take What they'll pay for a 16GB AT&T iPhone 5 When they'll pay*
Apple Store Take your iPhone into a participating Apple Store and you can trade it in for an Apple gift card. iPhones, iPads, computers Around $225 as an Apple gift card, which must be used immediately toward the purchase of a new iPhone Immediately
Best Buy Take your gadget to your local Best Buy with your original Best Buy sales receipt — yes, they'll only take items you previously bought at Best Buy — to your local store and talk to a representative. Computers, MP3 players, laptops, camcorders, e-readers, game consoles, handheld game consoles, camera flashes and lenses, mobile phones, cameras, eReaders, tablets, video games $225 as a Best Buy gift card Immediately
RadioShack Take your phone to RadioShack and let an employee evaluate it. RadioShack also accepts some broken electronics. Mobile phones, cameras, MP3 players, camcorders, tablets, laptops, video games, game consoles, GPS, e-readers, camera accessories, headphones $123.50 as a RadioShack gift card Immediately
Walmart Take your phone to Walmart and hand it over to an employee to evaluate for trade-in. Walmart also accepts some broken electronics. Mobile phones, tablets, MP3 players, video games, game consoles, cameras and camcorders, car audio components, GPS units $142.50 as a Walmart gift card Immediately
AT&T If you're an AT&T customer, you can give your phone back to AT&T for a modest return value. Just take your phone to the nearest AT&T location and hand it over to an employee to get a price quote. The program accepts some broken gadgets, too. Mobile phones and tablets $300 store credit Immediately
Sprint If you're a Sprint customer, you can sell to Sprint for a modest return value. Take your phone to the nearest Sprint Store and hand it over to an employee for a price quote. Mobile phones and tablets $240 store credit Immediately
*Prices as of 9/7/2014

Which site should you choose? Since all of these retailers pay in gift cards, the choice you make is really based on where you want to spend your money.

Better deals for those who can wait

If you don't need cash right now, a wide variety of online sales sites often give you better pay and options beyond gift cards. However, if the trade-in site disagrees with your assessment of the quality of your device, they may not pay as much as you expect — and you could be stuck with the lower rate or paying extra to get your phone back.

Online Trade-in Services

  How it works What they'll take What they'll pay for a 16GB AT&T iPhone 5 When they'll pay* If they don't think your device is worth the quoted value
Amazon Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a prepaid shipping label to send your gadget in. A wide variety of electronics, video games, movies, and music $211.50 as an Amazon gift card Within 10 business days of receiving your gadget When you submit your trade-in, you can choose what you want to do if it’s worth less than you thought — either have it returned, free of charge, or sell it for the lower price.
Walmart Go to the Walmart website and answer a few questions about its condition. Walmart provides a prepaid shipping label. Walmart also accepts some broken electronics. Mobile phones, tablets, MP3 players, video games, game consoles, cameras and camcorders, car audio components, GPS units $142.50 as a Walmart gift card Immediately, with credit approval Walmart will email you if they value the phone less than the original estimate, at which point you can request the phone returned at no charge.
Apple Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, and Apple will ship you a prepaid mailing box to send it in with. Mac desktops and laptops, iPhones, iPads $225 as an Apple Store gift card After receiving your gadget You can accept the lower price or have your phone returned to you, free of charge.
Best Buy Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a prepaid shipping label to send your gadget in. Computers, MP3 players, laptops, camcorders, e-readers, game consoles, handheld game consoles, camera flashes and lenses, mobile phones, cameras, eReaders, tablets, video games $225 as a Best Buy gift card Within 10 days of receiving your gadget You can accept the lower price or have your phone returned to you for the cost of shipping.
Gazelle Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, and Gazelle will ship you a prepaid mailing box to send it in with. Gazelle offers a generous 30-day window to send in your gadget once you've agreed to sell it. Mostly Apple products but also other mobile phones and tablets $170 (unlocked), $145 (locked to AT&T) via check, PayPal, or Amazon gift card Within three to five business days of receiving your gadget You can accept the lower price or have your phone returned to you, free of charge. If you disagree, you can also request that your phone be re-evaluated by a manager.
Glyde Glyde combines the high prices of an auction site with the ease of use of a trade-in site. They'll suggest a price based on the item's condition and list it on their website for sale. When it sells, Glyde sends you a kit to package and mail it to the buyer. Glyde does charge fees, but the final price is still higher than you'll find on a trade-in site. Mobile phones, MacBooks, tablets, video games $188.96 (after fees) by check ($2 fee), direct deposit in to your bank account or in Bitcoin Within two to three days of receiving your gadget If someone buys your phone and finds it isn’t in the condition they expect, they can return it to Glyde who will return it to you, free of charge, so you can relist it. However, if you get repeat returns on your item, Glyde will ask you to pay part of the cost of shipping — usually around $5.
NextWorth Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a prepaid shipping label to send your gadget in. Once you've decided to send your gadget in, you have a generous 30-day window to ship it, which means you can sell it for a locked-in price now but send it in once you've gotten a new phone set up. Mobile phones, laptops, iPods, iPads, digital cameras, tablets, e-readers, video games, game consoles $170 (unlocked), $148 (locked to AT&T) via PayPal, check, or Target gift card Within a business day of your gadget's being inspected If the difference in cost is less than $10 or 10% of the original quote, NextWorth will pay the originally quoted amount. If the difference is more, you have the option to sell for the lower amount or have the item returned to you free of charge.
RadioShack Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a prepaid shipping label to send your gadget in. Mobile phones, cameras, MP3 players, camcorders, tablets, laptops, video games, game consoles, GPS, e-readers, camera accessories, headphones $123.50 as a RadioShack gift card They'll mail a gift certificate once they've received your gadget You can accept the lower price or have your phone returned to you, free of charge.

 

USell

Unlike other services, USell brings together offers from a network of professional buyers, giving you the best offer for your phone or tablet, without the hassle of shopping around. Once you accept an offer, you are sent a pre-paid shipping kit with tracking included. Mobile phones, tablets, iPods, video games, game consoles, Macbooks $179.76 via PayPal or check Within 5 business days of receiving your device Free return shipping if the product assessment doesn't match.
AT&T If you're an AT&T customer, you can give your phone back to AT&T for a modest return value. Just select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition—including its serial number—then print a pre-paid shipping label to send your gadget in. Mobile phones and tablets $150 as an AT&T Promotion Card Within 2-3 weeks of receiving your gadget Once you send it to AT&T, you’re stuck with whatever AT&T is willing to pay—they won’t return your phone.
Sprint If you're a Sprint customer, you can sell to Sprint for a modest return value. Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a pre-paid shipping label to send your gadget in. Mobile phones and tablets $145 as credit on your Sprint bill, up to $300 if you're switching to Sprint Within 3 Sprint billing cycles Once you send it to Sprint, you’re stuck with whatever Sprint is willing to pay—they won’t return your phone.
T-Mobile If you're a T-Mobile customer, you can sell your phone back for a decent price—albeit only as credit towards future T-Mobile bills. Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a pre-paid shipping label to send your gadget in. Mobile phones $150 in credit towards your T-Mobile bill Within 3 T-Mobile billing cycles Once you send it to T-Mobile, you’re stuck with whatever T-Mobile is willing to pay—they won’t return your phone
Verizon Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then Verizon will send you a pre-paid shipping container to send your phone to them in. Mobile phones and tablets $200 as a Verizon Wireless gift card Within 2 weeks of receiving your device, with the gift card sent by email Once you send it to Verizon, you’re stuck with whatever Verizon is willing to pay—they won’t return your phone.
*Prices as of 9/7/2014

Before you sell

Before you ship your gadget off, back up your documents, photos and videos to your computer or an cloud storage service. Applications can be backed up with iCloud, if you have an iPhone, or the Helium app, for Android devices. Then, overwrite your data instead of just erasing it so that whomever you're selling to doesn't also wind up with your contacts and family photos. AVAST Anti-Theft app offers this capability for Android devices, as do a small handful of other free and subscription-based offerings, including Andro Shredder (free) and iShredder 3 PRO ($3.29). You can also connect your phone to your computer and manually shred files using your computer's file shredding program. We like File Shredder (free) for Windows PCs and Permanent Eraser (free) for Macs. Then, disable "Find My iPhone Activation Lock" (for iPhone)  or "Reactivation Lock" (Android phones) and reset your phone to factory settings. Remove cases, screen protectors, the microSD card and your SIM card.

Whatever you choose, good luck navigating the trade-in marketplace!

Updated on 9/7/2014 with new information on services and what to do with your device when you sell.

[smartphone and money via Shutterstock]

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Discussion loading

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another option

From Ray Esposito on September 24, 2013 :: 10:08 am

I was a little disappointed you did not mention the option of donating your device, tablets especially to non-profits.  I manage a non-profit that could use a tablet or two for its work but in this economy cannot afford them.  Just a thought

Reply

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Another donation

From Joyce on September 25, 2013 :: 10:52 am

You can also donate old phones to your nearest women’s shelter, like Doves. The phone can be used in case of emergency, to get out of an abusive relationship. I believe you can get a tax donation receipt, as well.

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Re-read the article title!

From Larry Turner on September 08, 2014 :: 11:16 am

While donating to a charity is worthwhile, that article name is all about selling for the most money! smile

Plus Selling the device on EBay or Craiglist may yield better results!

Reply

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I use only iPhones so

From Buster Chappell on September 08, 2014 :: 12:47 pm

I use only iPhones so I have used Gazelle on numerous occasions. Last year I sold a 4S(32gb) and they offered me $195. After they got the phone I got a message that said it was in even better shape than they thought so they kicked it up to $205. You don’t see that very often! I had originally purchased it new thru my AT&T account for $199. grin

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Microsoft???

From Deadendbill on September 08, 2014 :: 5:00 pm

No mention of Microsoft stores.  They too will take a trade in.  My Nokia 925 was only 75 but they would take that when I buy a new Windows Phone.

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Really Like

From Cathy Conrad on September 13, 2014 :: 9:46 am

Buying used or selling -the last model-to Cowboom-Best Buy’s, I believe,  online trading arm-gives a grade to what you’re buying-make’s it easy to chose. I often buy the last model when the new comes out.

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Sell Your iPhone Here On Phone Renew

From Mary Johnson on November 24, 2014 :: 2:00 am

Thanks For sharing your valuable knowledge with us, hope for your valuable post in future also. [url=“http://www.phonerenew.com/”]
Phone renew[/url] is also good place to sell your old cell phones

Reply

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