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Upgrading your phone? Here’s what to do if you’re selling the old one

The Samsung Galaxy S10 series, LG G8 ThinQ, and OnePlus 7 Pro are all beautiful new devices that tempt customers to open up their wallets. Rightfully so — they’re all great! But if this is a replacement or upgrade, you’ll likely have to figure out what to so with the current one.

What to do? Throw it in a drawer? Make it a Wi-Fi only phone? Give it to the kids? Or, do you sell your phone?

While many carriers and retailers might tempt you with a trade-in credit for that current phone, sometimes you can do better selling it yourself. This is especially true if the device is a bit older.

Let’s take a look at the concept of selling your phone on your own. Here’s what you should know about the process, where to sell, and how to get the most money.

Where to sell you phone

You have several options of where to sell your device to maximize the amount you’ll get back. Three of the most popular options are eBay, Swappa, and Craigslist.


First up, eBay, which is known all around the world and can attract a diverse audience. If you choose to, you can allow international customers to bid on your auction and ship it off to another country. This will give you a much bigger group of people to sell to thereby increasing your chances of getting a higher fee.

You’ll need to consider that you may have to pay higher shipping costs in this scenario. eBay has higher fees than the other two sites and you will have to pay PayPal if you’re accepting payment through it as well. A good rule of thumb is to budget about 20% of your device’s sale price for shipping, eBay and PayPal fees.


Perhaps the most popular choice for Android enthusiasts, Swappa offers excellent buyer and seller protections that eBay does not. Moreover, it also has expanded to include other gadgets and even gaming consoles and games.

As for phones, each device has its IMEI checked to make sure it isn’t blacklisted or on a payment plan from a carrier. The pictures of the device are also inspected by Swappa staff to make sure they match the description as well.

Swappa recently introduced a new fee model where you’ll pay less to sell cheaper devices and more to sell expensive devices.


Another popular option is Craigslist, largely due to the lure of fast and easy cash. There are no fees associated with Craiglist; however, since your audience is much lower than on a site like eBay or Swappa, you may not be able to get as much for your phone.

You also have the added risk of unsavory characters trying to pull a “fast one” on you. As someone who has been robbed during a Craigslist sale, I’ll never buy or sell another high dollar item on the site again. Do note that some police stations and local government offices now offer safe and secure spaces to conduct your transactions.

Be informative

As outlined in the section dedicated to taking pictures, when you’re spending money on a phone, you want to know everything about the device.

Be sure to write out any damage to the device like scratches, dents, or scrapes. Also, be sure to include if the device has been repaired or had a part like the battery replaced.

Indeed, this can work for you or against you, but you should always be honest about your listing. If not for it being the right thing to do, then do it because a buyer can always reverse a transaction if you’re found to lie about the device.

Be sure to list all the accessories that come with the device and what shape they’re in too. There’s a big difference between telling someone it comes with a case and a screen protector and telling someone it comes with a $100 Mophie case and a $50 tempered glass screen protector.

You’re selling this device for the most money you can get, so don’t be afraid to include those finer details.

Pricing and Offers

It’s a good rule of thumb to never list the lowest price you’ll take for a device, even if you’re trying to sell it quick.

Everyone loves a deal and you’ll almost never find someone who is willing to pay asking price for your device, no matter how reasonable it might be.

You’re always going to get an offer or two so post slightly above what you’re willing to take (even if it’s just $10!) to give yourself some wiggle room. Then you can sell it for a price you’re happy with and your buyer can feel like they’re getting a deal.

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Also, on sites like Swappa and eBay, potential buyers can make offers. It’s important to respond firmly but courteously to any offer, even if it’s a low-ball offer. Other potential buyers are watching these conversations and might not want to deal with a pain in the butt!

Once you’ve found an offer you’re willing to accept, be decisive and move quickly to wrap up the deal. Remember that you’re not the only fish in the sea and there are always new devices posted every day so once you’ve found something you can live with, it’s not worth haggling over a few dollars.

After the Sale

First things, first. Do not cheap out on shipping! Be sure that you’re properly packing the device and its accessories in an appropriately sized box before you send it off.

I’ve had a few boxes show up at my door that look like they’ve gone through hell but because the seller properly packaged the phone, everything came out fine.

I prefer to ship smaller boxes with USPS because I can purchase and print postage right from my computer and have it picked up the next day with my regular mail. FedEx and UPS also perform scheduled pickups in some cases.

If you don’t have room for a roll of bubble wrap or a bunch of packing peanuts, then try using plastic bags from the grocery. They work well, too!

I would also encourage you to purchase insurance. I know the argument of paying for something I’ll probably never use, but I’d much rather pay $10 for shipping than have to refund someone $500 out of pocket for a lost or broken phone and have no recourse with the shipping service.


I’m a technology addict so I go through plenty of devices. These steps have never steered me wrong and I hope they help you out a little too. The thing I try to remember at all times is to be honest about the device.

You’re trying to get the most money you can for your device, yes. But, if once it arrives and the buyer isn’t happy, you’re going to have a headache on your hand.

If you have any more suggestions of apps to help back up data before selling a device, tips for selling or shipping your device, please post down in the comments section!


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