About · Press · Contact · Write For Us · Top Personal Finance Blogs
Featured In:

How to Sell or Trade In Your Old iPhone for a New One

By Jason Steele

iphone handAs technology continues to improve at increasingly rapid speeds, new phones hit the market on a seemingly daily basis. Smartphones, iPhones in particular, have been dominating the market so strongly, and new releases come out so quickly, that one starts to think about what to do with an “old” iPhone after just three months.

When the new and improved version comes out, do you set it aside in a junk drawer? Give it away? Especially if you still have a relatively new device, selling or trading in your old phone is likely your most appealing option.

Plenty of people think of an iPhone as a necessity, partly for the cool factor but mostly for the versatility the device provides on the go. With the thousands of apps out there for these fantastic phones, they make the perfect companion for students, business travelers, and parents at home running a household. High demand means you have a great market searching for your spare phone.

Why You Should Sell Your iPhone

Apple created a truly incredible product, but the iPhone isn’t meant to last forever, and you’re not supposed to keep it for too long. They keep releasing new models and updating features, and if you’re hooked on the technology, you’ll “need” the new one almost as soon as it comes out. Most people can’t afford upgrading every three or six months, but your carrier probably offers you a free or discounted upgrade after two years.

By then, you’ll probably be ready to upgrade, and you have two options. You can go the conventional route and take the upgrade and sell your two-year-old phone. You’ll probably make as much on the deal as you had to spend on the upgrade, and you might even come out ahead. Alternatively, you can take the free upgrade, sell it, and stick with your old phone. With this strategy you can take advantage of your discounted rate and sell at a profit, while still offering your buyers a lower rate than full retail price. Everyone wins.

Think carefully about your timing too. Since Apple typically refreshes its iPhone line every year, you should upgrade your phone every other year to stay aligned with your two-year plan renewal.

When to Sell Your iPhone

iPhones, like most technology products, constantly depreciate in value because manufacturers keep adding newer, more advanced models to the marketplace. That means it’s in your best interest to sell as quickly as possible. With each passing day, and as new products become available, your old model’s value continues to decline.

If you haven’t heard an announcement about a new model that’s about to come out, then you can expect one soon. Get your phone out there before the next model hits the news. And if a new phone just came out, just wait a month or two so the glut of used phones passes. By waiting, you’ll regain some leverage on your asking price.

If you’re going to take the free upgrade and turn it around and put it on the market, then you need to move very quickly. Obtain the new model as soon as possible and advertise it the moment you have it in hand. Hot new technology will always command a premium price, especially from overseas buyers.

apple store

How to Sell Your iPhone

Unless you already have a friend, family member, or co-worker who’s looking for an iPhone, you have two basic options for finding a buyer. You can use a broker, or you can head to an online marketplace like eBay or Craigslist to find customers who are willing to pay your asking price.

Working with a Broker

An iPhone broker is a used electronics company, specializing in the purchase and sale of cell phones for cash, including iPhones. Dealing with this kind of expert has several advantages, like speed and convenience. For those benefits, however, you’ll have less control over the sale, and you’ll make less money. The process generally works like this:

  1. Fill out a form on the broker’s website, listing details like your iPhone’s condition and model.
  2. Review the broker’s quote, and decide if the amount that the broker will pay is enough for you.
  3. If you accept the deal, the broker will provide a pre-paid and addressed mailing label for you to ship your iPhone to them.
  4. Once they receive the phone and confirm that it was in the described condition, they will pay you the agreed upon amount through PayPal.

If you’re looking for a quick sale without a lot of work, try these online brokers and traditional brick-and-mortar stores:

  • SellYourMac. As you can tell, this broker specializes in Apple products. First, you’ll have to email them to request a quote, and then you’ll have to follow up with photos and a serial number. Once they receive the item and verify its condition, they will pay you by your choice of a check or a PayPal transaction.
  • Gazelle. This company specializes in buying and selling iPhones as well as other electronics. They offer free shipping and also offer free packaging for some deals.
  • Amazon Electronics Trade-In. This major online retailer recently launched a trade-in program for electronics, books, and other products. Like other brokers, they will provide you a quote and pay for shipping. They only provide payment in the form of Amazon credit, however.
  • Buy Back World. Another broker specializing in iPhones and other electronics, they also offer free shipping.
  • Wirefly. Wirefly isn’t just an online broker of a variety of cell phones; they also give you an opportunity to trade in other electronic products as well. For your phone, they will send you an appraisal, and if you accept, they’ll pay for shipping as well.
  • NextWorth/Target. This service works in one of two ways. You can either enter your phone’s information online and receive an instant quote, or you can just bring your phone into any Target. If you go to a Target store, you’ll get a Target gift card right on the spot. If you conduct the transaction online, you will receive payment by your choice of check, PayPal, or gift card (or e-gift card). You can expect payment within ten days of the date NextWorth receives the phone.
  • Best Buy Trade-In. Like Target, Best Buy offers store credit in their trade-in program. With their system, you visit a store and you’ll get your credit immediately. Don’t worry if you didn’t buy your phone at a Best Buy location; they’ll take any iPhone. The key advantage to the brick-and-mortar option is that your sale is truly instant and you have the added benefit of face-to-face customer service.
  • RadioShack Trade-In. This process is also very simple. All you have to do is walk into a local RadioShack store and show them your phone. They will determine how much it is worth and give you a gift card for that amount. You can use the gift card for anything in the store including an upgrade to a new iPhone.
  • Wireless Carriers. Many wireless carriers have created their own trade-in programs, so check with your provider. Usually their offer is lower than what you’ll get from other brokers, but they give you the added convenience of getting credit that you can use toward your next phone upgrade. AT&T and Verizon are two such carriers that offer a trade-in plan.

Selling Your iPhone in a General Marketplace

Rather than going with a broker who will do the work and take away from your profits, you could choose to sell directly on a general marketplace like eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace.

By cutting out the middleman, you may be able to bring in some more cash, but you’ll also have to take on the obligations of time and expenses without any guarantee of success. You’ll also have to be wary of scammers who won’t pay you what they promised (e.g. common Craigslist scams). Unfortunately, these marketplaces don’t offer full protection for you, and buyers often don’t have much of a reputation from which you can judge.

Try these tips for selling your iPhone online:

  • Do your research before listing your phone on eBay or Craigslist. Make sure that you are pricing your phone in a range that matches the rates other sellers are seeking. Don’t go too low, otherwise people will think there is something wrong with the phone, and don’t go too high because people won’t even look at it.
  • Consider jail-breaking or unlocking the phone. This will allow the new buyer to use it with any service provider, including international providers. Unlocked phones are usually worth a bit more then locked phones, and you will sell it faster.
  • Be willing to ship outside of the United States. Many international buyers are looking for iPhones, and using the Internet to expand your reach to Europe and Asia could be helpful with the sale of your phone. Just make sure that you note that there will be an extra charge for international shipping. You don’t want to take on that burden by yourself.
  • Take good photographs. When customers are buying online products, they like to see pictures. The better the photography, the more likely your item will sell. So if all you have is the camera on your iPhone, ask a friend with a better camera to take a few pictures that show the condition of the phone best.
  • Include all accessories and the original box, if you have it. Having the extra accessories such as the wall charger and the car charging kit makes your iPhone more marketable. People are always looking for a good deal when they visit websites such as eBay and Craigslist, and having more to offer is always to your benefit.

Parting with Your iPhone

If you are like most people, your iPhone has a lot of your life documented via pictures, text messages, phone numbers, and everything else that was saved through the web browsers and different downloaded applications. Regardless of your selling method, wiping your iPhone clean of all personal information before sending it to the next owner is crucial. You want to protect your privacy and keep all of your precious files.

Before you restore your phone to its original settings, make sure that you have everything saved and backed up in iTunes. Then simply go to your settings and select “Restore.” Make sure that the restore goes back to the factory settings: Check that all custom ring tones, your contact list, and any other pieces of personal information are all wiped from your phone.

Final Word

When trying to sell your phone, make sure that you research the competition, price your phone reasonably, and take great photography to show your potential buyers what they will be getting. If you do not want to sell your phone yourself and go through the hassle of taking photos and dealing with customers, then head over to one of the several online brokers that will buy the phone from you. Either way, you can realize some of the value from your old phone in order to purchase the latest piece of technology and begin the cycle anew.

Have you ever sold your old iPhone to upgrade to the new version? What was the experience like and what method will you be utilizing the next time around?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Jason Steele
Jason has been writing about personal finance, travel, and other topics on blogs across the Internet. When he is not writing, he has a career in information technology and is also a commercially rated pilot. Jason lives in Colorado with his wife and young daughter where he enjoys parenting, cycling, and other extreme sports.

Related Articles

  • http://yahoo.com/ Cheetah

    Awesome!

The content on Money Crashers is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional financial advice. Should you need such advice, consult a licensed financial or tax advisor. References to products, offers, and rates from third party sites often change. While we do our best to keep these updated, numbers stated on this site may differ from actual numbers.
Advertising Disclosure: We may have financial relationships with some of the companies mentioned on this website. Among other things, we may receive free products, services, and/or monetary compensation in exchange for featured placement of sponsored products or services. We strive to write accurate and genuine reviews and articles, and all views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors.
Links monetized by VigLink