How To Sell Old Cell Phones For Cash

What would you do if every week you were handed a gift wrapped new way to make money?

Would it help you to have a detailed case study with every steps of the process documented and explained to you so you could follow along?

Of course, by “follow along”, I really mean “copy exactly what I’m doing so you can make money too”.

If this is something that you think will help you then you’re in luck because every Monday I will be posting a new edition of Make Money Monday (M$M) where I will be showing you ways that I am making money.

How To Sell Your Old Cell Phone For Cash

This week I’m going to focus on showing you how to sell old cell phones for cash because it’s something that most people have laying around collecting dust when it should be putting dollar bills in our pockets.

I’m also going to show you how you can grow and scale this into a viable (and potentially profitable) side business where you buy and resell cell phones.  More on this in a little bit.

Don’t worry if you don’t have an iPhone 5S that you want to sell because virtually any cell phone in any condition can be sold for cold hard cash (or more likely, a cold hard PayPal payment).

I actually have three old iPhones that I will be selling this week.  One is an old and broken iPhone 3G which I’m hoping will show you that you can virtually sell any make, model and condition of phone.  I also have a mint condition iPhone 3Gs and an iPhone 4 that will be finding new homes.

3 Place Where You Can Sell Your Old Cell Phones.  My Favorite is #2.

Click to navigate to a particular section of this guide.

  1. Gazelle
  2. eBay
  3. Craigslist

Bonus Section: How To Grown & Scale

#1. Gazelle: The (Almost) Guaranteed Way To Sell Your Cell

If you want to, almost, guarantee that you will turn your old cell phone into cash then head on over to gazelle where they will buy your old cell phone from you.

I have to say “almost guarantee” that you’ll sell your phone because if you have an iPhone 3GS or older that you’re trying to sell, they won’t actually buy it from you.  I’m sure this goes for other models as well.

That being said, if you have an iPhone 4 or newer you’re in luck and you can sell your old phone with just a few clicks of your mouse.

Gazelle Step 1: Tell them what kind of cell phone you want to sell

Step 1 To Sell Your Cell Phone on Gazelle

Gazelle Step 2: Select the version of the cell phone you are selling

Choose The Cell Phone You Want To Sell

Gazelle Step 3: Tell Gazelle which carrier your phone is locked to or choose unlocked if it’s unlocked

I'm selling an unlocked iPhone 4

Gazelle Step 4: Click “Get an Offer” based on the capacity of your phone

Choose the capacity of your cell phone to get your offer

Gazelle Step 5: Click “Get Paid” and turn your old cell phone into cash!

Get Paid For Your Old Cell Phone

That’s it!  It’s easy as pie to make some extra money when you sell your old cell phone that is otherwise just laying around collecting dust.  I started this guide off with the steps on how to sell at Gazelle because it is the easiest way to sell your phone.

The downside of Gazelle is that it is likely the lowest amount of money you’re going to get for your phone.  Chances are very good that you will make more money selling it on eBay or Craigslist but, rememember, that the other two methods take more time and effort.

If you want the easy win, then click here and sell your phone to Gazelle.  If you want to see learn how to make money (possibly twice as much) by selling it on eBay or Craigslist then keep reading.

#2. eBay: The Worlds Largest Marketplace & My Favorite Place To Sell Old Cell Phones

Selling on eBay may feel like you’re taking a step back to the late 1990s but, trust me, you can still make a killing on eBay. Just look at this screen shot from my PayPal account. All $24,644 came from eBay sales that month.

VOSA.com 24k Jan 2011

I have found that eBay, even with the fees to sell, is the place where I get the highest price for old cell phones which makes the added efforts to package & ship the items worth it.

Just look at a recently completed iPhone 4 that sold for more than double the $90 that Gazelle was going to pay:

Sell iPhone on eBay

Another great reason to learn how to start selling on eBay is so you can sell so many different things to make extra money.

eBay Step #1: Set up an eBay account & list your old cell phone for sale

If you don’t have an eBay account you will need to click here and sign up for one.  Here are the easy steps required to set up your new eBay account so you can start selling your old cell phone today.

Enter your personal information:

Open an Ebay Account and How To Sell on eBay

eBay will assign you a username based off of your info.  If for some reason you get an outrageously bad username, like I did, or if you’re looking to build a brand around your new eBay name you’re going to want to change the name to something else.

New ebay Account

If you want to change your username you will want to click on the “My ebay” link:

My ebay

Then you will need to hover your courser over “account” and then click “personal information

How to Change ebay Personal Info

You will see your username listed, just click on the “edit” link beside your assigned username:

How To Change eBay Name

Enter your desired username and check to see if it’s available.  If it is, and you’re happy with it, just click save and you’ll have your new username:

Change eBay Name

You should see your new username:

eBay Name Changed

eBay Step #2: List your old cell phone on eBay

Research is the first step of selling your old cell phone on eBay.  Do not skip this step or else you will very likely sell your phone for less than it’s worth.  This research will also com in handy if you want to try to grow and scale this business into a full blown side hustle.

Here is how to figure out how much your old cell phone is worth.

The first thing you need to do is click on the “advanced” link just beside the search button:

Advanced eBay Search

Next you will want to enter the item you’re looking to sell.  For this example, I’m going to find out how much the iPhone 3G 8GB unlocked iPhone I have is worth.  Make sure you click the “completed listings” option so only the phone that have already sold are displayed:

ebay completed listings

Next, you will want to make sure the results are being sorted by the most recent first.  This give you an up to date look at the used cell phone market and what your used cell phone is worth.

Value Your item ebay

The green numbers are the actual values that items have sold for recently

After figuring out what the estimated value of you items is you can move on to listing your item for sale by clicking “sell”:

Sell on ebay

Let eBay know what you want to sell:

Enter item

Change the title from the default one they give you.  The only purpose of your title is to get them to click on your listing and read the first line of your sales page. I cannot stress this enough.  Your title needs to stand out in some way.  I have found that I have great success with adding “(Same Day Shipping)” to my title but be creative and think of ways you can make your title stand out from the crowd.

New Title Sell similar

Next you will need to beef out your sales page if you want to sell your cell for the most cash as possible.

Lots of high quality pictures is very important and be sure to take pictures of any flaws the phone you’re looking to sell might have.  Make sure your title is excellent and it contains the item you’re selling (so people will find your sales page when searching eBay).

Add your start price (I like to start cell phones at $0.01) and a buy it now price so people who really want your phone can buy it on the spot.  I like to schedule all of my eBay listings to end at around 9 PM Easter time.  I have found over the years that this has resulted in higher prices for my listings.

Another small perk that I’ve noticed when you schedule your ad as opposed to just listing it right away is that your ad will show up in eBay’s search results right away when you had it scheduled.  For some reason, when you go live right away it doesn’t always show up in the search results for a while.  Every pair of eyeballs on your ad could end up being your buyer so having your ad show up in the listings right away is a good thing.

ebay Listing

After you click list it, you will need to verify your phone number, get your PayPal account linked (so you can get paid) and agree to some terms and services.  After you’re done with this you will see this:

First ebay item listed

This looks like a lot more work then selling your phone at Gazelle, and it is. Don’t get tempted to skip steps, like adding pictures or a detailed description, to save time.  This is how you can make your listing stand out and get top dollar for your old cell phone.

The extra work is worth it since stand to make quite a bit more selling it on eBay then to Gazelle.  This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

Thomas Edison Quote

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#3. Craigslist: The Personal Way To Buy & Sell Old Cell Phones

The last method we are going to look in this edition of Make Money Monday (M$M) is the most personal way to sell your old phone.

I say “personal” because you quite literally are going to be meeting people in person to sell your phone.

The nature of Craigslist is that of a local marketplace.  You can list your ad for free in their local classifieds and then other local people are going to contact you when they are interested in buying your cellular phone you’re looking to sell.

Then both parties will arrange a time and place to meet to exchange cash for items.

SAFETY WARNING: The world can be a scary place and scammers are all over the place, including Craigslist.  Please review their safety page before buying or selling on Craigslist.  If you choose to sell on Craigslist you are doing so under your own power.  There are ways to minimize the risk of selling on Craigslist which are listed on their safety page but I wanted to add a few that I always follow:

  1. Never give anyone, or meet anyone at your home address.
  2. Always meet people at a public place that’s well lit and busy.  I always meet people at a local 7-11.
  3. Never send any personal info to anyone, ESPECIALLY your banking info, etc.

I don’t want to scare you away from Craigslist but I just want to make sure you know the risks.  I have been involved in hundreds of transactions that originated on Craigstlist and have never (knock on wood) had a bad one.

Craigslist Step #1: Set up a Craigslist Account

Click on “my account” on your local craigstlist page:

How To Sell Your Old Cell Phones On Craigslist

Next click “sign up for an account”:

Start a Craigslist Account

Enter your email address:

Enter Email For the Next Step of Selling on Criagslist

After you click the confirmation link in your email you will be asked to enter and confirm a password:

 Confirm Password

At this point you will be asked to agree some terms and conditions.  Then you will want to navigate over to your account area.  Once there let’s get your old cell phone listed for sale so you can make some extra cash! Click “

Post New Ad on Craigslist To Sell Cell Phone

Now is where you will want to beef out your ad.  Remember, just like on eBay, the title is what will get people to click your ad, so make sure you write an amazing title.

You will also want to write a detailed description that includes everything about the cell you’re trying to sell.  Include details on any defects like scratches on the screen or body, buttons that won’t work, faulty wifi, etc.  The more detail you provide the smoother your transaction will go.

DO NOT try to hide defects because this will likely result in the buyer backing out when he/she is testing your phone when you meet in person.  This results in a waste of time for both you and the potential buyer.

When selling a cell phone I usually don’t bother showing where you are on the map, or I just put the city I’m in rather than a more detailed location.  This feature is more relevant when advertising rental properties or homes for sale.  Remember, safety first.

Great Ads Sell More Phones

Once you are done with the title and description you will have the chance to add some images which should be of the highest quality.  After the pictures have been added you will get to review your ad and publish it for everyone to see.

Craigslist Step #2: Communicating with potential buyers

The next step is communicating with potential buyers that have found your ad and might want to buy your old cell phone you’re looking to sell.

You will either get phone calls and text messages (if you included your phone number) or emails.  I have found that by including my phone number I make more sales as people like to communicate via text message these days.

Including or not including your cell phone number is completely up to you and it is not necessary to make a sale.

You will likely be answering the same questions over and over again so make sure you have the canned responses feature turned on in your gmail account as this will save you a lot of time.  Don’t worry about writing these canned responses before you start getting questions for potential buyers.  After you get the same question a few time just save your response as a new canned response to save time when answering the same question again in the future.

Craigslist Step #3: Making the sale

This is the step people are most uncomfortable with because it involves meeting people in person to exchange cash for your cell phone.  I can’t stress enough that you should NOT be meeting people are your home, or their home for that matter.  Always arrange to meet people in well trafficked and well lit public places.  A convince store or mall are great options.

Make sure your cell phone is charged up and ready for the potential buyer to test out when you meet them.  Also be prepared for them to start haggling on price!  You don’t have to sell it for less and most times if you just say “no, I did a lot of research and this is the price the market set” people will pay the original price.  Remember that, very likely, they are just as nervous to ask for a discount as you are to answer their question.

How To Grow & Scale This Into A Side Hustle

Buying and selling phones can become a great little side hustle if you are looking to make extra money.

The most important thing to remember if you are looking to become a cell phone flipper is that you make your money on the buy and not the sell.

The more time you spend doing the research and knowing what phones will sell for the more money you are likely to make.

How To Source Cell Phones To Resell

I have found that the local classified sites, like craigslist, are the best places to buy cell phones that you want to resell.

This can be done in two ways (or both).  Actively pursuing phones to resell or passively pursing phones to resell.

I like to passively pursue phones to resell as it takes less time.  It always results in fewer phones to resell so you don’t have the same amount of earning potential by having the sellers come to you to express their interest.

Passive Sourcing

To passively source used cell phones as inventory to resell you are going to want to post an ad like this:

Passively Buy Cells To Resell

DO NOT COPY THIS AD, IT’S TERRIBLE!

It might work, but it could be a lot better.  Spend some time to write a great title and description where you let them know you are looking for cell phones to buy.  Tell them you buy any make, model and any condition.

I recommend that ask people to email you if they want to sell their phone.  The reason I recommend this is because it allows you to use technology to do most of the work for you.

Set up a new gmail account for this venture and set up an automated response that gets sent out asking them the following questions:

      • What kind of phone do you want to sell?
      • What is the overall condition of the phone?
      • Are there any scratches on the screen?
      • Does the phone have any problems?
      • How much do you want to sell your phone for?

Let them send in your answers and then decided if you want to pursue this phone to resell or not.

Active Sourcing

If you want to actively pursue purchasing phones to resell you will want to reply to every ad on craigslist with a copy/paste email telling them you are interested in their phone.  Ask them what is their best price for the phone.  Doing this will get them to bid against themselves right off the bat.  Again, knowing what the resale value of the phones are is very important here so you don’t pay too much for a phone.

When you are trying to buy phones for as much as 50% off their retail value you will get a lot of emails slammed in your face but there are enough sellers out there that you will end up scoring some phones for $50 or more under their resell value if you keep trying.

Once you have a willing seller who has agreed to your offer you will want to arrange a time and place to meet them.  Again, meet them in a well lit, public place like a 7-11 or shopping mall.  Bring the exact amount of cash, not more, with you.  Inspect the phone to make sure it works and then only buy it if you’re happy with what you see.

If you’re not happy, you can either walk away from the deal or renegotiate the price.  Don’t be afraid to ask for a lower price based on the condition of the phone being different then described.

How Much To Pay For A Cell Phone You Plan To Resell

Since you have done extensive research and you know what each make and model will sell for, you should know what the maximum you will pay for a phone you’re looking to resell.  I like to start by offering 50% of what the phone is worth and I won’t pay more than the value of the phone less $50 for the phone.

I like to make at least $50 for each phone I buy and resell.  This gives me enough cushion for a few things to go wrong and will break even in a worst case scenario.

You will get a lot of unhappy people when you offer them half of what their phone is worth.  Don’t get personal and just keep working to come up with a price that works for both sides.  You won’t be able to buy every phone you make an offer on.  Actually you will end up buying a small percentage of phones you make offers on.

Tips When Buying & Selling Phones For Profit

      1. The more you have, the more the phone is worth: This applies to the capacity of the phone but also the accessories as well.  The original box, headphones, paperwork, etc. all increase the resale value of the phone.
      2. Best times to buy phones to resell: I have found that the best time to get the best deals on cell phones that you want to resell are later in the week (especially Friday afternoon) and the end of the month.  My guess is that people are willing to take less for their phones to either have money in their pocket for the weekend or to pay upcoming expenses that a new month brings.
      3. Where to buy and where to sell: I have had the best luck buying on craigslist type sites and selling on eBay.
      4. Don’t be afraid of broken phones: You will likely be very surprised at the value of a broke iPhone.  You will also be surprised at how cheap you can buy a broken iPhone on craigslist.  I have found that buying and selling broken phones is actually one of the most profitable sub-niches for this side hustle.  If you can fix the phones the profit margins can get crazy.
      5. Most important tip: The most thing to remember is that you make your money when you buy the phone.  I can’t street knowing the realistic resale value enough if you want to start buying and selling phone to make extra money.

Well, there it is.  The first edition of Make Money Monday (M$M)!  I hope that you find this series on making extra income helpful.  Be sure to click here to become a Vosa Insiderso you don’t miss out on Insider’s tip and tricks and the next edition of M$M.

Have you ever wanted to sell old cell phones for cash?  Have you ever sold a cell phone?  If yes, how did it go?  If no, are you going to give it a try?

Feel free to post a link to your listings at eBay or craigslist after you list your cell for sale.  Thanks!

See The List of 15 Things I’ve Sold To Make Money. #12 Had A 600% Return on Investment.
None of these were "big ideas" but I made money from ALL of them and so can you.