Getting an iPhone 5? 5 Tips to Sell Your Used Phone for More

Photo (cc) by Yutaka Tsutano

Today Apple announced the release date of its newest must-have product, the iPhone 5. The phone will become available on September 21.

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. According to marketing group Nielsen, 55 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers now own one.

In the video below, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson explains how to get the best deal for your old cell phone. Check it out and then read on for more details…

1. Start early

Timing is everything. As Jeff Trachsel, chief marketing officer for cell phone 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, 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’ll find 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
  • PhoneArena.com – Release dates by carrier
  • Digital Trends – Posts quarterly upcoming lists and other news

2. Check prices on dealer websites

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 timeframe (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. No one may bid, or your auction might go for lower than you hoped. And 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.
  • Amazon – You can set your own price, but you’ll pay listing and referral fees.
  • Bonanza – Works like Amazon, but smaller. I only saw a handful of iPhones for sale, but they charge a smaller selling fee.
  • Craigslist – Connects local sellers with local buyers. 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 eCheck clears) before you ship your phone.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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