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How to Make Money Selling Old Cell Phones

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I once had a somewhat embarrassing drawer full of old cell phones (I upgraded every year back when phones were closer to $100 than $1,000!), awaiting the day that they might come in handy for something.

It wasn’t until I started getting into selling on eBay that I realized my old Blackberry had a purpose: To sell to someone else who can use it for parts or to help form their collection of “vintage” phones.

Believe it or not, your old Nokia with T9 texting (remember that?) can be worth some money, or, at the very least, a few bucks. Whatever money you can squeeze out of your old cell phones is better than the $0 they’re accumulating in a junk drawer as mine did.

Once I got around to selling my outdated phones on eBay, I made about $100. eBay isn’t the only place to sell them.

Several other sites might give you more for your phone because they focus solely on buying cell phones and other electronics, so I gathered them up for you to browse and decide which ones are best for your selling needs.

Evaluating Your Phone’s Condition

Before you send off your phones to the first company willing to buy it, you should take time to assess its condition because this is a question you’ll have to answer before you send them in.

Most companies provide quotes for your phone based on the condition you say it’s in. If the phone’s shape doesn’t match what you say, you’ll likely end up with a much smaller payment than you anticipated. Save yourself the hassle by evaluating it carefully ahead of time.

Can I Sell Broken Phones?

You might have a 10-year-old phone that’s been put through the ringer and has dents, scratches, a cracked screen, and won’t even power on correctly. Don’t worry, because that phone may still be worth some money.

Some of the companies I mention below allow you to sell broken phones that don’t power on or have severe defects that interfere with their standard functionality. If the phone’s major components (or some of them) are intact, like its battery or camera, you may still get some money out of it because buyers can use the parts for repairs.

In other words, it’s worth a try. If you’re 100% honest about your phone’s condition, you’ll have a better shot at making a sale.

Surface

The surface of your phone can say a lot about how well you treated it while you had it. Every phone is bound to get a few nicks and bumps here and there, but if you usually kept a case off your phone, its front and back will surely tell the truth.

Although most scratches and dents don’t affect the functionality of a phone, they will lower its value. Most people won’t pay top dollar for a used phone that’s covered in imperfections, so this is one of the important things that companies will want to know about before you sell your phone.

A company will usually ask you to rate your phone’s condition with terms like Fair, Good, Acceptable, or Excellent, and should provide you with a brief description of what they mean by each classification. If your phone falls between two, you should choose the lesser one.

Screen

Minor dings in screens will often be overlooked and passed off as a sign of normal wear and tear, but you still need to indicate them when evaluating your phone’s condition.

Major cracks in the screen, especially with a touchscreen cell phone, can affect the way it performs and could lower its value significantly. If your screen is very damaged, you might want to consider using a DIY screen replacement kit to repair it yourself (if you feel confident in doing so) to boost its potential value when you sell it.

Performance

If you haven’t used your phone in a while, you’ll need to power it on and use it for a few minutes to make sure everything’s running smoothly. A working phone will always sell for more than a non-working phone of the same type.

Be sure to use a few apps and various features to see if the phone has any hiccups with specific tasks. Test the phone’s camera and buttons, too.

Battery

A sure sign of a failing cell phone battery is that it drains faster than usual. Your battery may also take longer to charge or get hot quickly while you’re charging or using your phone.

You can usually still sell a cell phone when the battery isn’t performing its best, but you will want to consider its condition when evaluating your phone’s condition.

Original Accessories and Packaging

If you still have all the original accessories (charger, headphones, etc.) that came with your cell, you’ll likely get more out of it when you sell it privately on places like eBay or Craigslist. Having the original box for your phone can also boost its price.

When you sell through an online company that buys cell phones, though, you likely won’t make more money just for having original accessories because they usually only focus on the phone itself. In other words, don’t stress yourself out looking for the box.

How Much Can I Make from My Old Phones?

How much money you can get out of your old cell phones depends on the type of phone and whether it’s just “old” as compared to “vintage.” A vintage cell phone – which may not be as old as you think – could be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Old cell phones are typically ones produced and sold within the last ten years or so. Think the first iPhones, various Blackberry models, and other early bar and flip phones. Most of these go for lower than $100, more commonly around the $20 to $50 range on places like eBay, but less than that when you sell directly to a buying company.

Vintage phones, the earliest cell phones that were produced in the 1970s through the early 2000s, can sell for much higher, especially on eBay where auctions can run rampant. A Nokia 6120i, which came out in 2007, sold for almost $2,000 on eBay in 2016. The Ericsson T39m sold for close to $1,200 in 2016.

The older your phone is, the higher its price tag will likely go because collectors want them. To get a good idea of what your phone might sell for, you can search for the model on eBay and see what price listings for that model, if any, have ended at, or you can search on Google for your specific model and see what comes up.

Important note: Most cell phone buying sites won’t buy phones older than a few years, so vintage phones are usually out of the question. They want the newest phones that are in demand still.

Maximizing Your Earnings

Just because you have an old cell phone to sell doesn’t mean you should accept the first price you get just to get it off your hands. Here are a few tips for maximizing your earnings when you’re ready to sell:

Shop Around

Prices for phones can vary a lot depending on where you try to sell them. It’s worth every penny to take some extra time checking the selling potential of your devices before you decide on a company. It’s likely that you’ll end up using more than one selling spot to get the best prices for multiple phones.

Most of the time, sites with direct sales to customers, like Amazon and eBay, will get you the most money for your device because there’s no middleman. Cell phone buying companies only give you a portion of your phone’s value so that they can still make a profit when they resell it.

If money doesn’t matter to you as much as simplicity and time do, then buying companies may be your best option. The process to use these sites is usually quick and easy and doesn’t require you to wait until a consumer wants to buy your phone.

Opt for Credit Instead of Cash

Most cell phone buying companies will give you a choice between store credit and cash for your payment. The cash option probably seems the most appealing, but you should rethink it if you expect to be in the market for a different phone soon.

Cash is great, but you’ll usually take a pay cut when you choose this option. You’ll get more in store credit, which you can apply to a cell phone purchase with the same place when you’re ready.

Read the Site’s Fine Print

Every buying and selling site will have fine print, and the site expects you to read through it to understand its terms and avoid potential issues later.

Some companies might stipulate what phones you can use your store credit on, which could be an issue if you wanted to switch to a specific phone brand or model that’s not covered. Others explain their compensation policy in more detail, denoting that it could take several weeks to get paid. You could also be required to reset your phone a specific way.

Not following important instructions could make you ineligible for payment and, depending on the site’s policy, you might not even get your phone back.

Where to Sell Old Cell Phones

Ready to start making money with your old cell phones? Who knows – you could be one of the lucky ones to have a phone worth $1,000 or more. Here are some of the best selling spots for your old devices:

1. Local Spots

Never rule out the power of a local selling spot! You could find your ideal buyer right in your neighborhood.

  • Flea Markets: Collectors go to flea markets to potentially find items that’ll add to, or complete, their collections. If you don’t want to set up your own stand (it costs money), you could turn to someone you know and trust who already has one to sell your phones for you and pay them a little for their help.
  • Yard Sales: Yard sales don’t usually draw in high-paying buyers, but they can be beneficial for getting rid of a bunch of low-value phones quickly. You can even sell them together for one price and hope that someone needs a bunch of phones for parts.
  • Craigslist: List your phones on Craigslist in multiple cities, including yours. Be sure to put up clear photos and be detailed in your description. List the price for a bit higher than you want to sell it to allow for some wiggle room from the buyer.
  • Facebook Groups: Does your city or county have a buying and selling group on Facebook? Try to sell your cell phones there. Check the group’s rules; you may be allowed one post “bump” per day to keep it toward the top of the feed.

2.  Apple GiveBack

iPhone users should check with Apple’s GiveBack program before anything else. You can get up to $525 for your eligible device here. The best part is that even other brands are eligible, like HTC and Samsung, but you’ll probably get more for your iPhone.

Currently, a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ gives you $100, while an Apple iPhone 6 Plus is worth $150.

If your phone doesn’t meet the requirements for the program, Apple will recycle it in an environmentally-friendly way for free.

Your money comes in the form of an Apple Store gift card, so it’s an especially good solution for anyone who’s thinking of buying a new iPhone.

3.  eBay

eBay is one of my top recommendations for selling most phones. I’ve done it myself with several old cell phones and cordless phones, so I know it works.

A few years ago, I sold a 5-year-old Blackberry for $120. I’ve also sold low-value phones for about half the price I bought them for, which I saw as a win.

The good thing about eBay is that you can set listings as either fixed-price or auction. Keep them fixed-price for low-value phones that likely won’t sell for much to make sure you get a few bucks from them. Set listings to auction for phones that could soar up into the $100s or more if the right buyer comes along.

4.  Amazon

Through Amazon’s third-party seller program, you can sell new, used, or broken cell phones. However, it’s incredibly important here to be honest about your phone’s condition because, like eBay, buyers can rate their experiences with you.

Selling on Amazon probably is best for those who have sold on it before, or plan to continue selling items on it in the future.

5.  Best Buy Trade-In

Trade in your device with Best Buy either online or in-store to receive Best Buy credit that you can use for an upgraded phone or another item.

Fill out information about your phone online and then decide if you want to mail it in or find a store to take it to.

6.  Gazelle

Gazelle is one of the most well-known sites for buying and selling electronics. The company does accept some broken phones, but mostly iPhones.

You can also sell working HTC, LG, Samsung, Google, and other cell phone brands.

Once you sign up, you’ll be eligible to refer friends to Gazelle, too, and make $10 for every friend who sells their first cell phone to the company.

7.  SellCell.com

SellCell.com isn’t a company that you can sell directly to, but it matches you with the best prices on the web for your phone.

Type in your phone’s model and the site will browse selling sites to find you the best price. Compare the offers and click the Sell Now button for the site you want to use to visit that company and sell your device.

8.  TradeMore

Sell smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches on TradeMore. It takes up to 7 business days to receive your box in which to send your device, but shipping is free.

You’ll also have the option to have your phone sent back if TradeMore values it at a lower price than its original quote.

9.  Decluttr

Decluttr is a website where you can sell several things, like books, games, and LEGOs, but its tech-selling service is one of its most popular. The site accepts Samsung phones and iPhones. Not only does Decluttr pay for shipping, but it also has free shipping insurance to keep your phone protected on its way.

Get paid with a check, PayPal, or direct deposit once Decluttr verifies your phone’s condition.

10.  EcoATM

Some people aren’t a fan of selling things over the internet, which is why ecoATM exists. Rather than shipping your old phones to a company and waiting to get paid, you can enter information about them into an ecoATM kiosk, place them in the kiosk, and get paid right then. ecoATM then recycles your phone in an eco-friendly way.

You can check how much you can get for your device here.

11.  Swappa

Swappa gives you a little more control over how much you make from your phone. It functions similarly to eBay, but with more of a focus on electronics.

See if your phone is an eligible device and then sign up and create a listing. You can name your price and receive payment with PayPal as soon as it sells.

12.  NextWorth

Get a free online quote from NextWorth for your phone, print the free shipping label at home, send it in, and get paid after its inspection. NextWorth offers checks and PayPal.

13.  USell

USell offers cash for almost any cell phone, including some old and low-value phones. If you can’t find your device on the website, you can contact USell to see if it’s one they’ll pay for.

Answer some questions about your phone’s condition, and then USell will show you online retailers willing to buy that phone and how much they’ll pay.

14.  YouRenew

YouRenew pays customers to send in their used electronics for environmentally-friendly recycling.

The company pays for UPS shipping and even sends you tracking information to ensure your phone reaches its facility. You’ll get a check after inspection.

15.  GreenBuyback

GreenBuyback is one of the few sites that offers to do a factory reset on your phone to wipe all data if you’re unable to do it yourself (although, I recommend you do try it before sending it in!). The company will recycle your phone instead of reselling it if it’s unable to be reset.

Use the online quote system to find out the value of your device. Then, ship it to GreenBuyback using the prepaid shipping label and get paid with a check or PayPal.

16.  SellBroke

SellBroke lets you sell all kinds of electronics, including drones and wearable devices, and you can sell almost any cell phone here.

Get your free quote online and then print a UPS or FedEx label for shipping. SellBroke pays with Google Play credit, PayPal, or a check.

Final Thoughts

Don’t count out your old cell phones yet. Browse eBay to see what your device could go for in an auction and then compare that price with the quotes you get from some of the selling sites I listed above. You might be surprised by how much pocket money you can get from those “junk” phones sitting in a drawer.

Have you sold cell phones online? Let us know what site(s) with which you’ve had the most luck in a comment.

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