Phone Trade-In vs. Selling: Which One Pays Off?

For many people, the cell phone is the most important device they have. So the prospect of upgrading your phone to a newer (or just different) model can be exciting.

Many people trade or sell their old phones to get some cash to help pay for the new device. There are advantages and disadvantages to trading or selling on your phone. Learn how to decide which approach is best for you.

How does trading work on your phone?

If you are buying your new phone through the manufacturer or wireless service provider, the easiest option might be to make a switch.

Typically, you will get an estimate for the value of the phone and the carrier will provide you with a prepaid return kit or shipping label so you don't have to pay to ship the device.

Once the operator or manufacturer receives your phone, they will provide you with a final value based on the condition of the phone. Then, depending on the company, you can receive credit for the change in the form of a refund to your credit card, credit to your new device, or a gift card.

Trade-in programs may not include older phones. Apple's trade-in program dates back to the iPhone 6 and iPhone SE (1st generation), but it doesn't include anything before the iPhone 5.

For example, let's say you want to upgrade your iPhone 11 by replacing it with an iPhone 12. You would start by visiting Apple's trade-in page on their website, where you can see that the estimated trade-in value is up to $ 380.

It will answer a few questions about the status, year, and configuration of the device. Apple will offer you an estimated exchange price, along with various redemption options.

If you trade in your phone at an Apple store, you can choose instant credit toward a store purchase or a gift card. If you trade online, you can choose a gift or credit card for an Apple purchase that Apple will give you after receiving and inspecting your phone.

The company will send you a prepaid shipping label or exchange kit, which you will use to ship the device. Once Apple receives your device, it will be evaluated and you can get a revised bid estimate if the condition is different than what you described. At that time, you will have the opportunity to accept or decline the new offer.

If you agree, Apple will charge or credit the difference to your credit or debit card. If you decline, the company will return the phone to you free of charge.

Pros and Cons of Trading in Your Phone


  • Simple and convenient.
  • You don't have to figure out pricing and where to sell your phone.
  • No logistics hassles like shipping or meeting up with interested buyers.


  • Older phones may not be eligible for trade-in.
  • Prices aren't as high as what you'd get from selling your phone.

How Does Selling Your Phone Work?

Selling your phone instead of exchanging it requires more groundwork, but it can result in more money in your pocket, which you can invest in your new phone or recoup some of the cost if you already bought it.

There are several places where you can sell your iPhone or Android device, including:

  • eBay
  • Craigslist
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • OfferUp
  • NextDoor
  • Local classifieds

eBay will charge a fee of 10.2% of the final sale price, but will offer shipping discounts and show your item to a large audience.

To find out how much your old phone can sell, you can use eBay's resale pricing tool. It will provide certain information about the device, including the manufacturer, unlock status, storage capacity, color, status, and accessories. Once you have entered all the relevant information, eBay will provide a trending price based on similar items recently sold in your market.

Let's say you have the same iPhone 11 as the old one. It is unlocked, has maximum storage capacity, and is in good condition, which means it has a few scratches, chips, or dents. According to eBay, the trending price is $ 580, $ 200 more than what Apple would offer if it made a trade.

In contrast, other platforms are generally free and reach a local audience that doesn't require the hassle and cost of shipping, but local reach limits the number of buyers you can reach.

The decision to trade in your old phone or sell it may depend on a few factors, meaning that neither is inherently better than the other. As a result, it is important to consider the situation, as well as your budget and preferences, to make the right decision for you.

Pros and Cons of Selling Your Phone


  • Can earn more money than a trade-in


  • Finding a buyer can be tedious especially if you're dealing with local buyers who may express interest, then disappear or don’t show up to a meet
  • It can take several days or weeks to sell the phone
  • May require shipping (buying postage, a box, and packing material)

How to Decide to Trade-In or Sell

The decision to trade in your old phone or sell it may depend on a few factors, meaning that neither is inherently better than the other. As a result, it is important to consider the situation, as well as your budget and preferences, to make the right decision for you.

If you are thinking of swapping out your phone, consider spending a few minutes researching how much you could earn by selling the device. This can give you an idea of ​​the compensation you would make by opting for the convenience of compensation instead of work that it would take to sell the phone.

For example, if your particular phone is worth $ 100 more if you sell it rather than trade it in, it might still be worth making a transaction if you don't have a lot of free time to go through the entire sales process, and you may lose the difference.

However, if your budget is tight, spending a little more time selling the phone might be worth the extra money.

Enjoy Watching This Video About Budgeting

Source: foXnoMad

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