How to get the most bang for the buck when selling your old phone

Whenever it's time to buy a new phone, the experience is akin to a kid being inside of a candy store. You're itching to scope out all the shiny new phones that are out on the shelves, just waiting to gobble one of them up and paying for it before it's officially yours. Naturally, most people are going be feeling super elated by this experience, mainly because of the prospect of having a brand spanking new phone in your possession!

However, you then reach back into your pocket, only to realize that you're still in possession of your old phone. Some people will choose to hold onto their old phones, just in case something unfortunate thing happens to their new one, but chances are, they won't ever have to go back to using them. And then it finally hits them, they could've sold that old phone!

It's a predicament that plays out all too frequently when consumers are ready to buy a new one. Using the money acquired by selling that old phone towards the purchase of the new one alleviates some of the stress of having to pay the full amount for the new phone right from the onset, but the question that really needs to be explored is how to get the most bang for the buck out when selling your old phone.

Obviously, generating more money from your old phone is always the best-case scenario. In order to help us uncover the best time to sell your phone, we reached out to Yanyan Ji, who is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and General Manager, E-Commerce at ecoATM Gazelle. If you don't know, Gazelle is an E-Commerce company that allows people to sell their used electronic devices for money – while ecoATM are those ATM looking machines that pays you for your old phones.

Anticipate, anticipate, anticipate

There's some strategy when it comes to selling your old phone, just because there are so many factors that can affect the quotes you can procure from different outlets. First and foremost, you really need to anticipate ahead of time when the new version of your old phone is being released. In most instances, people rush to sell their old phone right after the new model is introduced or released, which can not only saturate the market due to all those old phones being put up for sale, but it'll also dramatically lower quotes in the process.

"Once a new phone model is introduced, the previous generation goes down in value. For example, we tend to see prices drop by 10-20% after Apple releases a new phone. The newer your device and the better its condition, the more money you will receive for it," says Ji. The 10% to 20% decrease might not sound like a whole lot, but when quotes have been trending at around $450 for a flawless looking 64GB iPhone X, that could potentially end up being $360 instead – and that's a huge difference!

Like we said, you'll need to anticipate well ahead of time about selling your old phone. Wait until the end, right at the moment when that new one is introduced, you won't be able to garner as much as you would've if you anticipated it well in advance. If you're the kind of person that typically buys a new phone each year, then you'll want to target the month leading up to the announcement of the new model to proactively sell your old one.

Case and screen protectors are a must

People don't like buying phones that are all banged up or show significant signs of wear and tear, which is also the case for all of these resellers and online trade back programs. If you're the kind of user that prefers having your phone "naked," then you better be paying extra attention to it – just because it's more prone in general. And when it comes to getting the most bang for the buck out of your old device, you'll want to try and keep it as pristine looking when it's time to sell it.

That's why it's beneficial to use cases and screen protectors, as they help to retain the phone's pristine looks from day one. Ji tells us, "Keep your phone in good condition by using a case and screen protector to protect it from accidental falls and scratches. If your device has a cracked screen, consider replacing it before selling to garner a higher value." Every scratch, chipped corner, and faded surface can slowly chip away at the maximum potential you can achieve selling your phone.

By using a case and a screen protector, not only are you protecting it from accidental damage, like a fall onto the hard pavement, but your chances of getting a higher quote is better. Sure, they might take away from the phone's natural beauty and original looks, but if you're adamant of spending as little as possible out of your pocket to pick up a new phone, you'll absolutely need to use them starting on day one.

Mainstream devices have the highest resell values

Choose your smartphone wisely, just because not all phones are going to be equal when it comes to reselling them. Not surprisingly, high-end flagship phones with all of today's tech goodness are more valuable, than say, those entry-level phones you might've picked up online for a killer deal. However, what's even more interesting is that mainstream devices are usually the ones to accumulate the highest resell values.

Take for example, we have flagship phones from three different companies, say from Apple, Samsung, and HTC. All were priced the same when they were first released, so it was an even playing field at the beginning. Considering that there's more of a market demand for Apple and Samsung devices, the HTC flagship might actually come out short with its resell value. So, while the price of all three were the same, HTC's flagship wouldn't garner the same resell value because the market demand isn't on the same level as Apple or Samsung.

Does this mean that you shouldn't even bother going with a phone that's not from one of the big names? Not really, especially because there might be some overlap when quotes for devices might be the same, which is really dependent on the market conditions.

Who to sell it back to?

As with most things, we recommend doing your research in terms of choosing who or what service you want to utilize to sell back your old phone for money. Nowadays, many carrier stores and big box retailers offer some kind of buy back or trade in service – where they'll offer gift cards, cash, store credits, or other promotions for your old phone. On the other end of the spectrum, you can also leverage online buyback services, like Gazelle and ecoATM, for the convenience of getting a quote instantly. With ecoATM, in particular, it'll give you cash on the spot for your old phone.

The advantage with going with these online services or brick and mortar stores is the convenience you'll get selling your phone. You go there, you leave with cash or something else – and that's it! Of course, you may also want to explore other outlets besides these resellers, but there might be some work or additional expenses incurred on your side. You can sell your old phones outright through eBay or Craigslist, but you might have to play the waiting game for the right buyer to come around. Not only that, but there are situations when bargaining for a fair price comes into play.

You might be able to snag more value by selling it through eBay or Craigslist, seeing that prices tend to be uniform amongst those buy back and trade in programs. Regardless of which route you end up selecting, it's best to do your research and choose the one that best suits your needs.

Or maybe it could become a collector's item?

Early adopters might be inclined to sell their old phone around the time when the new one is about to be announced, but another alternative to getting more bang for the buck out of that old phone is to maybe just hold onto it, in the hopes that it may one day become a collector's item? Remember that first-generation original iPhone? Well, it's a collector's item nowadays and really tough to come by, so even if you somehow manage to come across one, chances are that it's commanding a huge sum of money to own.

Even though there's a slim chance that the value of your old phone will ever come close or exceed the initial cost you paid for it, you may still be able to obtain a reasonable amount by holding onto it – as opposed to selling it after the first year of ownership. Indeed, you'll be taking a chance on a possible big payout, but it's also another alternative way of trying to get back as much as you can by selling it.


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