If you’re looking to turn that old cellphone of yours into money, you’re in the right place. We’ll give you all the details you need to help you get value out of your old mobile phone.
Smartphones are now commonplace in today’s society to the extent that you probably have a couple of them lying around in your house collecting dust. If those hunks of plastic, glass, and metal are just an eyesore for you, there are several options you can take advantage of to turn it into cash or something of value, or at the very least, keep it out of a landfill.
If you used your old phone for a bit, you’ve probably accessed all sorts of websites such as social media and online banks. All the options we have on this guide involve giving your phone to someone you don’t know. If you have any ill-advised images or sensitive information in its memory you should probably do the following first:
• Switch it back to default/factory settings
• Remove any attached storage devices such as SD cards
• Clear your phone’s cookies and cache to remove all log-ins from memory
The latter should keep your information safe in case you end up giving your phone to less than scrupulous people.
Sell your old phone
The most direct and highly rewarding choice for your old phone is to sell it. Whether you want to do it online or through your network of friends, you can quickly sell your phone for cash. Although the amount you’ll get will depend highly on the model, condition, and current demand of the market.
We do advise that you do your research first on what the actual value of your phone is and we’ll help you answer that question, too.
How do I find out how much my phone is worth?
There are several ways you can find out and don’t worry; we won’t be giving you a complicated formula and make you do the math; nobody likes that. Instead, you can:
Check online comparison sites
If you want to know how much your phone’s trade-in value is, you can go to BankMyCell, a website designed to do all your research for you by collecting all of the trade-in, recycling and resale options available according to price.
Phone Value Calculator
eBay has this handy section that allows you to determine what your phone is currently worth; this is incredibly useful if you plan to use an auction site or online classifieds to sell your phone.
Different ways to get cash for your phone
Retail Trade-in Services
The easiest way to trade in your phone for cash is through retail trade-in services. It is a straightforward process, you only have to walk to their physical location, get your phone checked, and you’ll immediately get an offer. If you agree with their assessment, you get paid instantly.
No hassles, convenient, and no need to deal with any random people online looking to scam you. For retail trade-in services try:
Retail Giants (Best Buy and Game Stop)
Both Best Buy and Game Stop offer trade-in services for cell phones although their prices aren’t as competitive as online trade-in sites. If you’re looking to get hard cash, then Best Buy is the better option. If you’re a gaming enthusiast looking to get store credit for games, peripherals, and other electronics, however, then you should consider Game Stop.
Your Network Carrier
Most phone network services offer trade-ins in both online and instore and will pay cash for your old phones. Others only offer store credit. Just like the retail giants, they often offer lower rates compared to online trade-in services.
Online Trade-in Services
Online cell phone trade-in services require a bit more work and time to use, but if you’re willing to wait, you can get a better deal when you sell old phones. So, how do these online services work?
The first thing you would need to do is to make a personal inspection of your phone. You contact the service, and they’ll give you a quote based on your assessment. Then, you send your phone to the cell phone buyback store where they will do their inspection.
If they agree with your appraisal, they will honor the initial quote and send you a check or a prepaid card via mail. If they disagree on the state of your phone, they will send a counter offer. If you and the online service personnel don’t agree, they will mail you back your phone.
If you want hassle-free online trade-in options, then BankMyCell will give you a great list of all the trade-in prices for each cell phone buyback store in one place. You can quickly make your decision here, as it outlines the timescale, shipping options, and payment options for each store so you can sell old phones without all the research and comparison.
One of the longest-standing online trade-in services in existence, their history in the industry shows that they are trustworthy and doing something right. They typically don’t offer the best prices, but at least you can rest easy knowing that the service is reliable.
Amazon sells everything, and of course, that includes used mobile phones. If you frequent Amazon, then you can trade-in your phone for Amazon gift cards for your personal use.
Auction Sites and Online Classified
What we consider as the high-risk-high-reward option, auction sites, and online classifieds can get you the most money for your phone, but it also requires the most work and involves the most risk.
You will need to prepare your phone for sale, take photos, and then create online ads for it. You will have to deal with interested buyers, meet them, or ship your phone to them and get paid.
A word of caution, these sites provide limited protection to sellers and buyers alike, so use this option at your own risk. Hold out if you believe you are not receiving the phone trade-in value you expected.
Some popular websites that you can use are:
Cell Phone Recycling for Cash
Recycling doesn’t have to be about social responsibility; you can get paid, too. We run down the list of stores, services, and charities that offer cash or a clear conscience for recycling your old mobile phone.
• Your Local Government Programs—these dispose of your electronics and keep any e-waste from cluttering up landfills.
• Your Network Carrier—these give you store credit or discounts to your next bill if you trade in your phone at the local store. You may have to deal with upselling by the personnel, but at least you can know your phone will be disposed of properly or will make somebody else happy.
• Apple—the Apple Renew program allows you to trade in your iPhones for Apple store gift cards
• Electronics Stores—these retail giants and local stores gladly recycle your phone for you, but terms vary significantly between companies.
Donating your Phone
If you’re not worried about money, giving your phone to others might be the best option for you. Donating your phone to a charity will help them raise funds, by either recycling or reselling your phone. The funds will be used for the cause they have chosen.
These are just a few of the charities that will be aided by cell phone donations:
• Cell Phone for Soldiers—donate phones to soldiers and their families to keep them connected during deployment.
• Secure the Call—donate phones to law enforcement personnel, victims of abuse, and the homeless.
• Medic Mobile—donate phones to help healthcare professionals in developing regions
Repurposing Your Phone
If you don’t want to let go of your phone just yet (maybe for sentimental reasons), there are plenty of things you can do to it thanks to the magic of apps. Most of these are free, and a quick browse of Google Play or the App Store can help you turn your phone into:
• A gaming platform using emulators
• A baby monitor or a surveillance camera
• A media control panel
• A VOIP mobile for emergency use
• A PC remote access point
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of recycling my phone?
• Reduces power requirements and carbon footprint
• Recycles precious metals in your phone
• Phones are non-biodegradable, and recycling keeps it out of landfills
Is there gold inside phones?
Yes, but minimal amounts. There are other precious metals, too, including palladium, platinum, and silver.
What parts of a phone can be recycled?
The circuitry, the precious metals, the glass, and the plastic on the case—most of it is recyclable.
What happens to old phones when they are recycled?
Depending on the model and the condition of the phone, one of three things can happen:
• If a phone is relatively new and functioning, it will be refurbished and sold back to the market.
• Older phones will most likely find their way to developing regions or areas where they are not usually accessible.
• If the phone is beyond repair, it will be salvaged for parts and recycled.
Can my broken phone still be recycled or donated for cash?
It depends on how you define broken; any recycling service or charity should accept your phone in any condition, you shouldn’t expect cash for it though if it’s completely broken.
Can my phone go straight into the recycling bin?
You need to check with your local recycling service first if they have the equipment necessary to recycle the batteries and metals that are in e-waste; in most cases, they are not able to handle it.
There you have it….we hope our guide helped you make your decision on what to do with that old phone of yours. Whether you decide to sell, recycle, repurpose or donate your phone, know that you’re helping out the environment by keeping e-waste out of landfills and keeping them in circulation for continued use.