Sell Your Old iPhone With Ease: Everything You Need to Know

August 16, 2017

11:30 am

The circle of life typically applies to the animal kingdom, but your iPhone goes through a similar process: You buy a new one, wear it out for a year or two, and then sell it off in order to get the pocket money to buy the latest brand-new iPhone model. But in order to pull that off, you’ll need to know the options for how and where to sell your old iPhone in order to make the most money off it.

Here’s a rundown of where to look and what location to sell your phone to, based on a number of variables.

What to Do First

Before you so much as consider a site to sell to, you’ll need a sellable phone. First, unlock it: Call up your carrier and explore your options. Some carriers may ask you to pay to break the contract, while others may have special conditions. If you can unlock the phone, it’s more valuable — depending on how old it is, some of the sites and outlets listed below may not even accept it if it’s locked.

Next, back up your iPhone. Make sure you’re online, and then go to Settings, tap “iCloud,” tap “Backup,” and tap “Back Up Now.” Finally, you’ll need to wipe the phone. Tab back to Settings, hit “General,” then tap “Reset” all the way at the bottom of the list, and follow that up with “Erase All Content and Settings.” Boom, you’re ready to sell your old iPhone.

Trade It Back to Apple

Apple’s trade-in program will give you store credit of up to $260 towards your next iPhone purchase. You’d better have it in good condition, though: Prices drop off quickly for those who can’t offer up a spotless phone. Apple will give you around $45 for an iPhone 5, $135 for an iPhone 6, and $260 for the iPhone 6s Plus.

Let’s be honest: Plenty of iPhone owners are die-hard Apple fans, and this option is great for them. For everyone else, it might be too restrictive, as Apple’s high standards can make it tough to get rid of a phone. But if it’s the easy option you want, just check out the next option:

Sell It to Amazon

Amazon offers a trade-in page here which details how to get paid by Amazon. Just select the condition of your phone. Once Amazon knows if the device powers on, is disconnected from iCloud, has any screen cracks, or is still being financed through your carrier, they’ll be able to tell you if they can buy it and how much they’ll offer.

Then, review the order and print out the label Amazon creates to let you mail in the device yourself. Amazon gives you 30 days to mail it in, so you can even keep using your old phone right up until the next one arrives.

Sell It to a Reseller

Gazelle is the most well-known reseller, but the process to sell your old iPhone through any of these is fairly similar: Just pick out your make, model, phone carrier, and the condition your phone is in, and you’ll get the amount the reseller is willing to pay. If it works for you, they’ll send you the packaging you’ll need to send it out.

Glyde goes back the farthest: They’ll buy as far back as an iPhone 3GS, which will only net you eight dollars.

NextWorth will also buy any other smartphone you might have, from Samsungs to Sonys to LGs to Nokias. This isn’t the way to make the most money — these resellers all still need to take a cut, so they’ll offer you less for the phone — but it’s easily the most simple way. Lazy phone owners, this option’s for you.

Sell It to a Retailer

Walmart offers a relaxed iPhone trade-in program, and the only downside is that you’ll be making that money back in Walmart gift cards only. If Walmart isn’t close enough, Best Buy offers the same service. If you’ve read this far, the path to sell your old iPhone should be clear: Fill out the specs, and see how much the company is willing to offer you.

Sell It Yourself

Chances are good that you weren’t thrilled with the amount that the above sites offered. If you’re willing to forego the simple path in order to wring another fifty or a hundred bucks out of your phone sale, there are two great options left to you: eBay and Craigslist. With either one, you’ll have to set up your ad or auction by yourself, and either know the best practices for either site or be willing to learn them. But you’ll likely make more money than reselling to one of the services above: For a newer model in great condition, $400 or $500 isn’t unreasonable.

Just remember: If you opt for Craigslist, set up the meeting in a well-lit public location.

And Don’t Forget to Sell Your Old Accessories

You can even make a little pocket change off of your old iPhone dock or expensive case by throwing them into your eBay and Craigslist posting. If they’re only compatible with your old phone, you might as well. But if you opt to sell your old iPhone through Apple, Amazon, or the other resellers, don’t bother: They don’t have options to accept your earbuds, no matter how strong the sentimental value.

Once you’re done, sit back and relax: The circle of your iPhone’s life is complete — at least until about this time next year.

Read more about Apple’s iPhone advancements at TechCo

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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