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5 tips to sell a used phone for more

The iPhone 5 will be available Sept. 21. Here's how to get the best price when you sell your old cellphone.

By Stacy Johnson Sep 12, 2012 10:25AM

Updated Sept. 12, 2012, at 2:14 ET.


This post comes from Angela Colley at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyToday Apple announced the release date of its newest must-have product, the iPhone 5. The phone can be pre-ordered beginning Sept. 14 and will become available Sept. 21. That gives you time to offset the cost by selling your existing phone.


Even if you don't plan to join the line to buy the newest iPhone, odds are you'll sell a smartphone at some point, since 55% of U.S. mobile subscribers now own one, according to Nielsen, a marketing group. In the video below, Stacy Johnson explains how to get the best price when you do. Check it out, then read on for more.

1. Start early

Timing is everything. As Jeff Trachsel, chief marketing officer for cellphone reseller NextWorth, recently told CNNMoney:

We always get a rush of people who wait to get a quote until they have the new (iPhone) in their hands. But as the volume increases, the value of your phone declines.

To get the best deal, you need to beat the rush, whether you're using a resale dealer or selling it yourself. Pay attention to release dates and lock in a selling price three to four weeks in advance.


If getting the best price means selling your phone before the newest model hits the market, buy a cheap phone to tide you over. Then keep it as a spare for emergencies, like when you drop your phone in water.


To pull this off, you need to know when new phones are coming out. For the iPhone, we found  out today. But for future reference, here are some sites that tend to track this kind of thing:

  • CNET -- Running list of iPhone rumors and other release dates.
  • -- Release dates by carrier.
  • Digital Trends -- Quarterly upcoming lists and other news.
2. Check prices on dealer websites

Image: Man with laptop (© Ken Seet/SuperStock)Several resale dealers buy old handsets. A few of my friends swear by this method because it's the easiest way to unload your phone for cash. All you have to do is request a price quote, ship the phone within the time frame (usually three to four weeks), and wait for payment.


But you'll have to shop around to get the best deal. For example, I requested a price quote for an iPhone 4S 32GB in good condition on a few popular resale sites. Here are the price differences:

3. Sell it yourself

You might get a higher price if you sell your phone yourself on an auction or resale site. For example, I've seen the same iPhone 4S listed for as much as $424 on Amazon and $417 on my local Craigslist site.


There's no guarantee, however, that you'll get the price you want. Perhaps no one bids, or the bids are lower than you'd hoped. Also, most sites charge fees.


If you're willing to take the risk, here are a few sites worth checking out:

  • EBay attracts millions of potential buyers but charges fees.
  • allows you to set your own price, but you'll pay listing and referral fees.
  • Bonanza works like Amazon, but is smaller. I only saw a handful of iPhones for sale, but they charge a smaller selling fee.
  • Craigslist connects local sellers with local buyers. It's free, but you'll have to meet the buyer in person to close the sale.
4. Ask around

Online isn't the only way to find buyers. Recently, my friend tried to sell her Droid Incredible 2 on a resale site, but wasn't satisfied with the $45 offer. So she posted an ad on the bulletin board at a local college offering to sell the handset for $100 or best offer. Within a couple of days, a student offered her $90. She doubled her take -- without fees.


Selling to someone you know is usually easier than selling online. Start by asking friends, family, and co-workers. If you don't have any luck there, try posting an ad on bulletin boards at colleges, churches, libraries and community centers.

5. Trade-in

Most resale dealers and private buyers are looking for newer-model phones in good condition, but that doesn't mean your old or broken phones are worthless. You could still get cash or gift certificates through a trade-in program.


One of my favorites is ecoATM. You drop your old device into an ATM-like machine, which tests it and offers you a price. If you accept, you get cash on the spot. You can find nearby locations using their locator.


Retailers also offer trade-in programs, but they don't always pay in cash. Here are a few options:

Before you sell

Now that you've locked in a price, take some precautions:

  1. Back up personal data. Transfer photos, videos, and MP3s to your computer or external hard drive. I've found the easiest way to do this with my Android is to connect it directly to my laptop and move the files manually.
  2. Wipe your handset. Perform a factory reset on your phone to remove any personal information. CNET has a good article on resetting Androids, and The New York Times has one on resetting iPhones.
  3. Don't ship until you're paid. If you're selling your phone yourself, don't get scammed. Always wait until you receive the full payment (and the check or electronic payment clears) before you ship your phone.
More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:
Jul 12, 2013 1:50PM
you can also check , they buy newer and older phones (used or new) and smartphones at the best prices (iphone samsung, even ipad). Get a quote in seconds and always free shipping!

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