USA TODAY US Edition
Get the most for your old iPhone
Gazelle, ebay, Swappa ... which site is best?
It doesn’t matter if you have a still-shiny-new iPhone X or an ancient iPhone 5s – if you’re planning an upgrade to the latest and greatest – you likely want to score the most money for it as humanly possible.
There are a ton of ways now to get cash for your old iPhone. You’ll get about
30 percent more money on average going through a buy-back site such as Gazelle and Nextworth than from a wireless carrier’s trade-in program. Those two sites specifically also let you lock in a sales price, then hang onto to your old phone for a few weeks until your new one arrives – so that you don’t have to use a backup phone in between.
“One of the best ways to get the highest price is to take advantage of the price locks,” said Brian Morris, spokesperson for the price-checking database Flipsy. “You can lock in a price now and wait up to 30 days before you have to send in your phone. And when you do a price lock, you’re not obligated to sell it, you’re just locking in that price if you do.”
You can even go the route of selling your old smartphone in person via Craigslist, Facebook or an app like LetGo or OfferUp, but those options come with warnings how not to get scammed.
There are many reputable go-to’s when it comes to offloading an old phone to make way for a new one. At each one, you’ll get asked a series of questions about the condition of your phone to determine its value.
Here are all of the services I’ve used first-hand, and where prices were as of last week for two different model phones:
iPhone X (Silver, AT&T, 64GB, good condition)
❚ eBay: $628-$735
❚ Glyde: $700 (suggested price)
❚ Swappa: $639 (suggested price)
❚ Best Buy: $510 (Best Buy gift card)
❚ Gazelle: $460
❚ Nextworth: $457
❚ GameStop: $425
❚ uSell: $423 iPhone 8 (Silver, AT&T, 64GB, good condition)
❚ eBay: $438
❚ Glyde: $500 (suggested price)
❚ Swappa: $419 (suggested price)
❚ Best Buy: $340 (Best Buy gift card)
❚ Gazelle: $335
❚ uSell: $277
❚ Nextworth: $275
❚ GameStop: $240
For the past couple of years, eBay has been the best place to get top dollar for your used iPhone. With eBay, you’ll get plenty of eyes on your listing, and you have a great chance at snagging a reasonable price for it, with a few caveats.
You’ll still have to deal with shipping it to the buyer, unlike other sites that send a pre-paid box or shipping label where you stick your phone in and they do all the rest. Remember to subtract your estimated shipping cost from your sale price, so you know exactly how much you’ll end up with and compare that amount with prices from elsewhere. Also, if you accept payment for your phone via PayPal, they’ll take a 2.9% cut of the final amount. That’s on top of eBay’s sale fee of up to 10%, which you’ll be charged at the end of the month. It pays to calculate that beforehand.
EBay offers a “Quick Sale” option for some iPhones, where you can settle for a middle-of-the-road price, and eBay does the actual selling for you, but to get the most cash you’ll need to list it, sell it and handle the shipping.
When you list your phone, it pays to be honest about the condition and be sure to take high-quality photos of everything that’s included. That means your phone, any cords or headphones, the original box and any manuals that came with it. Something as simple as a charging cable can have a significant impact on the overall sale price, so don’t leave them out!
When to sell? Now
Timing is everything when you’re selling a used gadget, and that’s doubly true for the iPhone. Prices traditionally fall off a cliff as soon as Apple’s next-generation smartphone hits shelves.
“The sooner you sell, the better, because prices can actually drop 15-40 percent surrounding a flagship launch,” Morris said.
Many of the sales site’s price lock-in lasts until Oct. 19, giving you enough time to get the new smartphone and then send your old one in.
The good news this year is that last year’s launch of the iPhone X was pretty messy. It was in short supply for a long time, which means some iPhone shoppers might have settled for the iPhone 8 or even just kept their old phone for another year. If you have an iPhone X, there’s still demand on eBay and elsewhere, even after the newest iPhones start shipping, so waiting and selling later might have its advantages.
Don’t expect store trade-in prices to remain steady after the newest iPhones start rolling out. Stores like Best Buy, GameStop have less incentive to keep rates stable after they start accepting newer models for trade-ins, so prices for older phones usually begin dipping after a new model hits shelves.
When you list your phone for sale, it pays to be honest about the condition.