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How to Sell Your Phone for Cash
Ultimate Guide

Where Can You Sell Your Old Phone?

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Do you ever get tired of looking at that drawer full of old cell phones?

Me too. They're not quite current enough phone models for a service provider trade-in program, but they're still in good condition. Let's face it: you're never going to use them again, yet you just can't bring yourself to throw them away. That's a good thing! Throwing electronic devices into the trash is terrible for the environment. There's got to be a better way, right?

Right - there is. Rather than letting them continue to collect dust, you can sell your cell phones. What's better than protecting the environment while picking up a little bit of extra cash?

I know what you're thinking: where do I start? I've researched and analyzed numerous different used cell phone marketplaces online. As a result, I have come up with the five best places to sell smartphones. So if you want to make some extra cash while helping out the environment, read on!

Our Top Picks

Best Buy

  • Pros
  • Free Shipping
  • Reliable and trusted
  • Instant quotes
  • Easy process
  • Online and in-store
  • Cons
  • Pays with gift card instead of cash
  • May take a while to receive gift card

Best Buy has an extremely reliable and trustworthy recycling service. They are a big supplier who takes their customers seriously.

The Best Buy site offers instant quotes and prepaid shipping. You can even bring your used smartphone into the store. Just be sure you go to a store that does in-store trade-ins.

The downside to using Best Buy is that they pay you with a Best Buy Gift Card instead of cash and may not offer competitive rates. Additionally, it takes 10 business days after receiving and reviewing your used cell phone to get your gift card.

Overall, Best Buy is extremely reliable with great customer service. I wouldn't hesitate to use their store to sell your old phone online or in person.

BuyMyTronics Cell Phone Recycling

  • Pros
  • User-friendly interface and navigation
  • Option to drop off at a GameStop instead of shipping
  • On the spot price quotes for your device
  • Wide range of categories
  • FAQs section
  • Cons
  • Varying reviews and customer complaints
  • No shipping box provided

BuyMyTonics, a Denver-based electronics site, is different from the rest when it comes to cell phone recycling.

They don't just limit their service to phone trades but recycle cell phones, camcorders, tablets/pads, eBook readers, game consoles, mp3 players, and much more. Plus, they were recently bought by GameStop so you have the option to trade in your old phone directly at a participating store. Kill two birds with one stone, save the environment and take home a little extra cash.

If you don't have a GameStop in your area, you can ship it to BuyMyTronics via postal service. However, a shipping box is not provided, which is a bit counter-productive to someone trying to make money. Overall, BuyMyTronics has a website that is very easy to use. As previously noted, they work with trades in many electronics categories and they give you a quote for your item online and again after a hands-on review. You have a choice to accept or can reject it, but you will have to pay for

Overall, BuyMyTronics has a website that is very easy to use. As previously noted, they work with trades in many electronics categories and they give you a quote for your item online and again after a hands-on review. You have a choice to accept or can reject it, but you will have to pay for a return of the item.

Cellular Recycler

  • Pros
  • Easy to use and navigate
  • Important links easily retrieved
  • Cons
  • Pay $1-175 a phone; not the best buyback
  • Limited FAQs sections

Cellular Recycler partners up with organizations to gather used phones and then send them back to their headquarters. Businesses, schools, and consumers can log onto the site and sell their phone(s) by filling out an online label, printing it out, and placing it on a package. You can get reimbursed for your phone exchange, functioning or broken. Plus, Cellular Recycler is environmentally friendly and recycles your phone according to government regulations.

The website is user-friendly and is informative. Right on the front page, you can learn about how Cellular Recycler works, where to go if you want to recycle your cell phone firsthand, and how to make money with this business.

If you want to learn more about cell phone recycling and the process, you can visit the FAQs section. Their site isn't flashy, but it's simple and gets the point across, which is what matters.

Cellular Recycler isn't our number one choice if you're looking to get a big ticket buyback but they're definitely the place to go to get rid of your old mobile phones responsibly.

Key Considerations When Selling Your Old Cell Phone

According to Gartner, 64 percent of cell phones have more than one user in their lifetime. Figuring out how to sell your mobile phone can be tough, though. There are many components to consider before choosing the right marketplace and locking in your sale. Some of these components include:

  • Quick payment processing
  • Upfront quotes
  • Affordable and/or free shipping
  • Easy to follow instructions
  • Cash offers or store credit

You'll want to ensure the marketplace of your choice will process your payments accurately and on-time. It is also important to make sure you're getting paid a fair amount to sell your cell phone.

If you're only getting paid sixty bucks to sell your phone, shipping can take a significant amount of your total. Always check out the website's shipping options to make sure it's cheap or that the facilitator provides a prepaid shipping label.

Additionally, make sure to find out whether they offer cash or store credit for used phones. The best places to sell old cell phones will provide instructions that are easy to follow.

According to Gartner, 64 percent of cell phones have more than one user in their lifetime.

Why You Should Sell Your Phone for Cash

1. Easy Extra Cash

This is pretty obvious. If you sell your phone, it puts money in your pocket. Why would you pass up the opportunity for a free lunch or help with the bills?

2. It's a Form of Recycling

This is also pretty obvious. Recycling is supportive of the environment.

3. It Will Help Others Save Money on a New Phone

It'll make you feel good to know you're helping another person get a great deal on a phone. Selling your phone online for cash benefits everyone involved.

4. It's Simple

Every marketplace makes it relatively easy to sell your phone, so why not? Some facilitators will even send you the packaging complete with shipping label; so you don't have to worry about how to ship your device.

5. It's Better Than Throwing Your Phone Away

Doesn't helping the earth and helping others while helping yourself sound like a fantastic alternative to trashing your old phone or letting it waste away? I definitely think so.

Read More: Cell phone insurance may be a useful asset when you're considering trading in your phone.

What to Do Before You Sell Your Phone

There are some steps you should take before choosing the best place to sell your used cell phone.

1. Inspect your phone

First, you need to inspect your phone for damages. Be honest. Does your phone have water damage? You can check this by taking out the battery and determining if the LDI (Liquid Damage Indicator) has changed color.

You should also inspect the charger outlet and headphone jack to see if there is any damage or discoloration. Certain devices, like the Apple iPhone and iPad, don't offer a way to check the battery. Instead, check the tiny SIM card slot for discoloration.

If there is obvious physical damage, you should make a note of that as well. Some buyers will require you to send pictures and some won't. If necessary, take pictures of the damage and tell the buyer everything you know about your device.

Phone Assessment Scale

Most companies use the following scale to determine a phone's condition. The outcome usually determines how much you will be paid for your device.

  • Excellent: Phone is in perfect condition both cosmetically and functionally. All components - including the charging port, buttons, and headphone jack - of the device work. There is no water damage, missing buttons, scratches or dents.
  • Good: The device functions perfectly when in good condition, but there are some minor cosmetic flaws or scratches. No major buttons are missing.
  • Fair: The device is functioning but shows significant wear and tear including scratches, dents, blemishes.
  • Poor: A phone in poor condition has quite apparent cosmetic damages and may be impaired functionally. It may have a cracked display, water damage, or issues powering up.

Pro Tip: It's typically only worth the effort to sell smartphones, like an iPhone or Android device. Feature phones and other basic models won't bring much on today's market. It's best to simply take your flip or feature phone to a recycling facility.

2. Get a Quote for Your Phone

This is important. You should know exactly how much you're getting paid before you decide on where to sell your cell phone. It is a smart idea to get several quotes from several marketplaces.

Then, compare each quote to the price of the newest model of the phone you're selling. This will tell you which facilitator offers the most cash for your phone.

3. Back Up & Transfer Your Data

Make sure to back up your cell phone before you do anything. Fortunately, there are several fantastic online backup services for you to choose from. Check to see what old photos and saved information are hiding in there. You may not want to lose these things. If you need to transfer all of your information to a new phone, your cell phone carrier can help you.

4. Terminate the Device's Service Plan & Unlock It

You need to end your contract before you sell your old phone. If you fail to do this, whoever receives your phone may have to wait out your contract's termination. This means they cannot activate the phone until your contract is up.

Your phone may also be locked. This means it can only be used on a specific carrier's network until it is unlocked. In order to unlock the phone, you can call and ask your carrier to provide an unlock code or rely on our guide to unlocking your phone.

5. Wipe the Device's Memory

Erase contacts, photos, music, apps, and all sensitive information. The easiest way to do this is to perform a hard factory reset. Refer to the phone's user manual or contact the manufacturer for instructions.

Don't skip this step. It's your responsibility to remove any personally identifiable information you don't want readily available to your phone's next owner. Identity theft is a very real problem today, so its' crucial to perform the factory reset. For more on identity theft, check out our guide to protecting yourself from this common cyber crime.

If you nabbed an iPhone after trading in your previous device, you can use our guide to restoring your personal information, documents, photos, contacts, and more.

6. Remove your SIM Card

If you don't need your SIM card, throw it out like a credit card or bank statement. On older phone models, the SIM card can be found by checking underneath the battery. If you'd like to learn more about the SIM card, we offer a comprehensive guide.

Newer models like Apple iPhones use mini, nano, or standard SIM card formats depending on which model. These are usually found on the side of the phone. Don't forget to do this. If you have an Android device, remove the SD card as well. You don't want to lose any valuable photos or other information you've kept stored on your Android phone's mini-SD card.

7. Make Sure Your Phone has a Charger

If your phone doesn't have a working charger, you may want to buy one. Recycling companies can use this as an excuse to give you less money when you sell your phone online. To avoid this, find a cheap charger to put in the box alongside your used smartphone.

Where Can You Sell Your Phone?

You should know exactly how much you're getting paid before you decide on where to sell your cell phone.

Some websites offer better rates for iPhones than others. After ample research, I have found that Glyde and Swappa are two of the best places to sell your old iPhone.

Glyde sells iPhones at one of the highest return rates. You can sell an iPhone 5 and receive over $100. You can sell an iPhone 6 for over $400 if it's in great condition.

Swappa is another reliable place to sell your used iPhone. In fact, Swappa sells the iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s the most out of all of their smartphones. You can even sell an old iPhone 4 or 4s for a little bit of cash. You should definitely check them out if you're looking to sell your iPhone.

Read More: Consult our buyer's guide to iPhone deals if you're considering buying a new iPhone.

Like the iPhone, some websites offer better rates on the Samsung Galaxy than others. Glyde seems to be the winner in this department as well.

If you want to sell a Samsung Galaxy S3, you can receive up to $40 on Glyde. If you're looking to sell a Samsung Galaxy S4, you can get up to $70. You can even sell your Samsung Galaxy S5 for over $100 and a 6s for over $300. Glyde is known to offer the best rates for used phones.

What about your wireless service provider?

If your Android device or iPhone is new enough, your service provider may offer a trade-in program when you purchase a new device. A word of caution: if you're hoping to get a generous trade-in price by using this option, you may not get the best possible deal. According to BGR, you can earn as much as 53% more by selling your phone yourself when compared to the carrier trade-in price.

The tech site did a comparison on an iPhone 6 Plus locked to Verizon Wireless. They found that Verizon Wireless offered a trade-in price of just $270 compared to a $455 value on the private market.

Read More: You can read our buyer's guide to Samsung Galaxy deals for more information.

Where Can You Recycle Your Cell Phone?

According to Gartner, only seven percent of smartphones end up actually being recycled each year. Selling cell phones online is one excellent way to recycle. You can also research your state's legislation and call your carrier to figure out the best places to recycle or donate used phones you're not looking to sell.

E-waste introduces toxic substances like lead, beryllium, nickel, and arsenic into the environment. This is why many states are making it illegal not to recycle. These substances could pose a greater threat to our environment down the road.

The materials found in recycled cell phones can be made into other goods like jewelry, car parts, and other electronic devices. In my research, I have discovered how important it is not to mix e-waste with household trash.

In an attempt to reduce the toxins in our environment, Twenty-five states have passed e-waste legislation since 2003. Let's take New York as an example. New York state came out with the New York Electric Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act in 2010.

This particular act prohibits all New Yorkers from throwing away electronics in regular trash disposals. It also says all wireless cell phone providers must accept your cell phones for reuse or recycling. The law requires each business to accept up to 10 cell phones from any consumer.

If you call your carrier, they will either let you bring your phone into them or send you in the right direction.

What Happens After?

If the used cell phone website of your choice buys phones before selling to consumers, you will send your phone straight to them. Otherwise, you may send it straight to the consumer.

Some facilitators will even send you a pre-marked box to send it in. Then, it will go through one of three redistribution processes. The process depends on your device's make and condition.

  • The first mode of distribution is reuse. This is when your phone is sold to other consumers through retail channels like eBay or Amazon. This method sometimes includes international markets. If so, your used smartphone could end up in the hands of someone who's never had access to a smartphone before; pretty cool.
  • The second process is called refurbishment. This means your cell phone will be disassembled. It will then either be sold for its parts or directly to a refurbishing company to be fixed.
  • Recycling is the last method. If the used cell phone's circuit board is out of date or can't be refurbished, recycling is a last resort. Local and national processing facilities collect and recycle old phones. They must adhere to their state's environmental legislation and requirements in the process.

How Should You Package Your Phone for Reuse and Recycling?

You can include bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and wrapping paper to ensure your used cell phone doesn't get damaged in transit. If possible, place the device you intend to recycle in its original packaging.

If you want, you can also have your device professionally packaged at your local UPS or FedEx. It would be smart to ask your recycling center what they prefer. Recycling centers will often provide you with packaging, so you don't even have to worry about it. Make sure to ask about this option.

Can You Sell Broken Phones?

Yes. You can still sell your used cell phone even if it is broken. Even though Android phone or iPhone repair may be out of your wheelhouse, it may be an easy fix for an expert. Many used phone facilitators refurbish old phones so they work like new. Some cell phone buyback programs work by selling parts of your mobile phone that are still usable.

Even if you can't get cash back, you can still get the satisfaction of recycling your used cell phone parts for a better cause.

Methodology

It took a lot of work to figure out where to sell used cell phones online for the best rates. I did extensive research to determine what to consider and everything there is to know before you sell your used phone. As a result, here is what I would do if I were to sell my cell phone online.

The next time I want to sell my phone, I will use Sellcell first. Since they claim to make the best comparisons and offer a price guarantee, they seem like a reliable option.

After using Sellcell to compare pricing, I would research more to determine if they are truly offering the best price for my model. Research would include me checking out sites like Swappa, Gazelle, Best Buy and Glyde for my make and model.

I would see what deals I could find and if they were comparable. Depending on my findings, I would commit to a sale using either Sellcell or one of these trusted cell phone buyback programs.

Overall, I truly recommend each one of the five best places to sell your cell phone mentioned in this article. I believe they are all trustworthy and reliable to a legitimate extent. As a result, I would use any one of them to sell my phone online.

Recap

Cell phones are made from valuable metals such as silver and gold. Americans throw away an estimated $60 million worth of silver and gold every year. Stop throwing away or leaving your old phones sitting around. Do something with them!

Consider selling your used smartphone online. It is a great way to put a little extra cash in your pocket while supporting the environment. The best part is it can be easy. If you go with one of the best places to sell your used cell phones mentioned above, you will experience just how easy.

Even if you don't think your phone is in good enough condition, try anyway. Many used cell phone facilitators collect and refurbish damaged phones. Even if you can't get money for it, you'd be helping out Mother Earth by recycling your e-waste full of plastics, metals, and glass.

We're not quite done yet, you can get a head start on buying your new phone first by using our smartphone comparison tool.

Sell Your Cell Phone FAQ

Q Where do I sell my mobile phone?

A

You can sell your mobile or cell phone either online or in person. Several websites make the process of selling your unwanted phone super easy. For example, decluttr.com in the US and MusicMagpie in the UK give you an instant price quote for your phone, cover the cost of shipping and pay for the phone after they receive it.

Q What is ecoATM?

A

ecoATM gives you cash on the spot when you recycle your cell phone, mp3 player or tablet. To use ecoATM, you place your device in the kiosk, where it is analyzed and priced. If you like the price offered, you can accept it, trade in your device and get your cash. Kiosks are located across the US.

Q What stores buy used cell phones for cash?

A

Both GameStop and Best Buy offer online and in-store trade-ins for your cell phone. The stores give you the option of trading in your old phone for either cash or a store credit/gift card. Often, the value of store credit or gift card credit offered is greater than the cash offer.

Q What stores buy electronics for cash?

A

You can sell electronics like Android devices, or the iPhone and iPad to stores such as Best Buy and GameStop, in person or online. Big-box retailers such as Target will also happily buy your old electronics, including tablets, smartwatches and game consoles, online. While GameStop gives you cash or store credit for your electronics, Target and Best Buy will give you a gift card.

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