How to Sell Your Old Phone for the Most Amount of Cash

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A few months ago I published my guide on how to escape the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle. A lot of you emailed me to say you loved the monthly goals and action steps, but told me that I missed one of the easiest ways to build your emergency fund – selling your old crap.

Well, you’re right. And since I’ve been meaning to sell my old iPhone, I thought I’d start there. Here’s my story about how I sold my phone and some of helpful tips I learned along the way….


1. You Might Want to Avoid the Instant Selling Sites

So you’ve probably heard about sites like USell, Gazelle, and NextWorth. They are cell-phone buyback companies that will give you an instant cash offer for your cell phone. Sure, they’re easy and instantaneous. But, there’s a reason for that… they’re not paying you as much as your cell phone is actually worth. And in many cases, you can make a lot more money if you sell your old cell phone on your own.

To get started, use Ebay’s handy calculator to see the true value of your cell phone.

I recently tried this with my old iPhone 5. The major buyback sites were offering me anywhere from $165 to $215 for my phone. However, after I used Ebay’s cell phone tool, I saw that the same phone was selling for around $360 on Ebay. Talk about a big difference! 67% more cash just for selling it on my own.

Yes, you do face some fees for using Ebay, but my calculations show you’d still net more than $300 after Ebay & Paypal fees.


2. Search Your Closet for the Original Box & Accessories

Before you list your cell phone for sale, you’ll want to try to find the original packaging and as many accessories as you can. Think headphones. Think power cord/usb cable. Heck, even the instructions manual.

Those extras can have a major impact on your final selling price. And it’s no wonder, because the empty iPhone boxes can sell for as much as $50 on their own!

Empty iPhone Box Ebay 

3. You Probably Have More than One Phone

When I was going through my closet to find for my old iPhone box, I was shocked to find an old iPhone 3G as well. I had totally forgotten about it! The phone is nearly 6 years old now, but you can bet I’m still going to try to sell it.

Even though the phone is nearly ancient at this point, it still has value and that’s because the phone can be used for parts. In fact, most modern cell phones even contain a small amount of gold and/or silver inside (Fact: Americans throw away phones containing over $60 million in gold/silver every year!)

Chances are you also have an old phone you’ve forgotten about. So go through those closets and junk drawers to find some hidden cash.


4. Take a Ton of Pictures

The better your pictures are, the higher your selling price. It’s an Ebay fact. 

One of the great things about using Ebay’s easy cell phone listing tool is that they have some pre-selected images you can use for your auction listing. However, you should also take some of your own, because it builds trust with buyers and allows them to verify your phone’s quality.


5. Unlock, if you dare.

Most used cell phones are tied to a network that makes them slightly less valuable. However, if you’re willing to try to unlock your phone, it can pay off with a higher selling value.

There are some helpful Youtube videos that will show you the steps to unlock your phone and most of them claim it’s pretty easy. However, you should know that there is some risk here as there always a chance you could ruin the phone in the process.

If you want to give this a try, check out this article/video.

Your Turn: Have you sold you cell phone recently? Did you use a cell phone buyback site, Craigslist, Ebay, or something else? Tell me about it in the comments below… 

Disclosure: I wouldn’t be the “Penny Hoarder” if I didn’t make Ebay chip in for this post. 🙂 Thanks to them for helping to keep the lights on around here.