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Can You Get Any Cash for Your Old, Broken Cell Phone?

Ready to trade up for a new iPhone or Android and you want to know what’s the best place to sell used phones (whether it’s broken OR still under warranty)? I’ve got you covered with both local and online places.

It happened to me just a month ago. I was getting up from my chair to go into the other room, grabbed my iPhone too fast, and it slammed on the tiled floor (hint: you can bet I started looking into the best place to sell used phones!).

I had dropped my phone before – this was probably my 714th time because when I was pregnant I literally dropped it 2-3 times a day – but this time was different.

The entire screen smashed. It was so bad, that I could feel the individual cracks each time I used my finger to slide right or left.


I knew it was time to get a new phone. And this one? Well, it had been with me for 4-5 years now. It ran its course (though I would’ve been happy with it running the course a bit longer…).

On top of being tasked with finding the cheapest new smartphone I could get my hands on (I ended up going with Virgin Mobile), I also wanted to see if, like in times past, I could get any money for it.

After all, it’s still working. Technically, anyway.

I also wanted to find out in general where the best place to sell used phones is – including if your phone is still in tip-top shape!

Read on for info to find the best places, steps you should take when selling your used or broken phone, and how to sell broken phones (you know, for the clumsy among us *raises hand*).

But first, let’s look at how to get the most money for your smartphone.

How to Get the Most Money for Your Smartphone

Wondering, “Where can I sell my phone for a good price?”

Before we look into the best place to sell used phones, you need to know how to get the most amount of money for your smartphone.

I’ve got some tips and tricks to share with you!

First off, you’ll make the most amount of money selling a smartphone that:

  • Is Still Under Warranty: Smartphone warranties typically last between one and two years. If yours is still under warranty, that will get you a better price.
  • Is Less than Two Generations Old: Each time a new generation of your phone comes out, yours will be worth less on the resale market.
  • Is Sold Prior to the Announcement of a New Model Coming Out: New models of smartphones are announced periodically (for example, new iPhone models are typically announced in the fall). If you can sell your smartphone prior to an announcement, you’ll get more money.
  • Is in Good Condition: If a buy-back company can refurbish your phone and sell it again, you’ll get the best price. No one wants a scratched-up, cracked phone. So, the better condition it’s in, the more money you’ll get for it.
  • Has All its Parts: Most buy-back sites will ask you to return all the parts, including the charger and earbuds. If you have the original box? Well, those are worth money, too.
  • Is Unlocked: Phones are either locked or unlocked. A locked phone cannot be used on a different carrier than the one you’re with. But if you can unlock it, then it can be used on a different carrier (which makes it easier to sell to others). Here’s an extensive article on how to unlock a smartphone from any carrier.

Pssst: You need to purchase a cover for any smartphone you own – it will help keep it in peak condition, which only puts more money back in your pocket when you go to sell it! Check out tons of smartphone covers here.

If you have all that going for you, then getting top dollar for your phone is just a matter of shopping around (see how to sell your smartphone below for how to shop around and get the best deal).

But what if your smartphone is a bit…subpar? Or old? Or sitting in your electronics graveyard pile?

To get the most amount of money for your smartphone you should:

  • Comparison Shop: Don’t just go to one smartphone buyback website and settle on that price. You’ve got to shop around (if you want the best deal).
  • Do a Private Sale: It’s widely known that if you can sell your phone privately to someone else – a friend, family member, person on eBay, or a Facebook sell group – then you’ll get more money for it. Of course, this does come with some issues as well, such as making sure the other person is happy, fully wiping your data ahead of time, actually finding a person who wants to buy it, etc. But it’s worth mentioning.
  • Consider a Trade-In: For phones that are a bit dodgy, you might just want to trade it in for store credit or credit towards a new smartphone purchase. That’s because you might actually get more money in credit towards purchasing a new smartphone – a purchase you’re likely needing to make anyway – than if you tried to sell it. See “Phone Trade In” for more information.

Alright, next I’m going to outline the exact steps you need to take to sell your smartphone to the best place.

How to Sell Your Smartphone (Sell Used iPhone)

You don’t just want to sell your smartphone; you want the best place to sell used phones to + how to do it in a way that erases your digital life from prying eyes.

Let’s walk through the seven steps for how to sell your smartphone.

Step #1: Figure out if your phone is unlocked (and unlock it if you can)

As discussed above, smartphones are either locked or unlocked. A locked phone cannot be used on a different carrier than the one you’re with. But if you can unlock it, then it can be used on a different carrier (which makes it easier to sell to others).

Here’s an extensive article on how to unlock a smartphone from any carrier.

Along the same lines, you’ve got to actually own the phone you want to sell. Remember that some plans with carriers have you paying extra per month for 1-2 years to pay off the phone (these are called Equipment Installment Plans). If you’re still paying on the phone within your contract, and you sell it, then the buyer might have trouble activating it. Also, you will likely still have to pay a fee until you’ve paid the Equipment Installment Plan off.

A few more pieces of information that are going to be handy for you to know:

  • Smart Phone model
  • Storage limit (16 GB, 32 GB, etc.)
  • Your carrier

Step #2: Decide if you want to sell online, at a kiosk, to a person, or in-store

I’d like to point out that you can sell your smartphone online at a buyback service (discussed further below), or you can walk out with cash in hand from selling your smartphone at a kiosk to a person, or in-store.

Where you decide to do this depends on your priorities. Is it a priority to get the best deal on your smartphone cash-in, or to get cash right away?

I’ll show you how to comparison shop in the next step.

Step #3: Comparison shop to get the most amount of money

There are a bunch of companies that will buy your smartphone back from you. If you use them, they’ll give you an estimated price they’ll pay, send you an envelope with free shipping (so you can just drop your phone + accessories + box into the bag and put it in your mailbox or schedule a pickup), and make the process pretty painless.

I’ve personally sold phones back to both Gazelle and BuyBackWorld.

You could go to each site, plug in your phone’s information, and see who offers the best price. Those links are:

OR, you could make your shopping sell-back experience WAY easier (not to mention get the most cash) by trying out the US's largest mobile phone and tablet trade-in comparison site: SellCell.com.

You put in your information just once, and these guys will compare the prices from all leading Electronics BuyBack companies, including Gazelle, BuyBackWorld, It's Worth More, Decluttr, Maxback, Whizcells, 7Stars and many more. You end up with a page full of quotes so that you can quickly see which site will give you the best offer.

For example, when I did this the first time with my husband's Apple 7 iPhone with Verizon, in just 30 seconds, I received this helpful page of 14 offers ranging between $10 and $205 (yes, that's a huge difference in price):

image of comparison buyback prices for an apple iphone 7, from $10 to $205

I say this site will show your “best offer” and not just the best price because your best offer may not always be based on price.

SellCell gives you offers based on:

  • Price
  • User rating
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating
  • Reseller Rating
  • Trustpilot scores

On average? Quickly shopping around through SellCell can reap you an extra $50 – $150. Not only that, but SellCell offers a Best Price Guarantee that will pay you DOUBLE the difference if you happen to find a better deal than you got through them within 24 hours (hint: I haven't seen another site that offers this).

Another reason to use this site? Many families automatically use their existing carrier to upgrade, but you can actually get as much as 25% in additional cash using SellCell.

Note that if your phone is not in the condition that you specified on the website, they’ll counteroffer with a different amount. You can then typically either say yes/no, and they’ll either pay you or ship your phone back if you’d like. Sometimes they give you the option to recycle the phone with them if they’re unwilling to pay you any money for it.

For example, I tried to sell my husband’s iPhone which was no longer working. We got a quote; however, the phone was actually a little bent (which I hadn’t noticed). The company got back to us and let us know that they couldn’t pay us for it, but would recycle it if we’d like (or send it back if we’d like).

Step #4: Find Out the Phone Trade-In Value

Selling to a company that will refurbish your phone and sell it to others is not the only way to make money off of your smartphone. You can also use a trade-in program and get credit towards a future smartphone purchase.

Heck, if I didn’t have a broken smartphone, then I might have thought to check on prices to trade my phone for another phone as well!

Note: some places will take a smartphone with a broken screen that otherwise works, while others won’t. So be sure to ask.

The following are programs you can check out – you’ll want to make sure that you can’t get more money through a trade-in (though, this only makes you extra cash if you were going to purchase a smartphone through that store anyway):

Step #5: Decide Who to Go with

You’ve compared prices online, and perhaps even looked into trading your smartphone in.

Who is going to give you the best price? How long will it take to get paid?

Go ahead and decide who you’ll go with. Fill in the information needed in order to process everything.

Step #6: Wipe Your Smartphone of all Personal Information

Do not forget to do this step – several of the online buyback places will remind you or give you specific directions. Skip this step? And you could open yourself up to identity theft (not to mention some embarrassment).

But if you’re selling your phone yourself, then really pay attention to this.

You need to wipe your phone off all your personal data.

Follow these steps:

Step #7: Ship it Out

If you choose an online buyback company, then you’ll be sent a padded envelope to send your phone back in.

If you’re selling your phone yourself, then you’ll need to ship it out – be sure to purchase tracking. (especially if someone has already paid you for the device). Insurance might be a good idea, as well. Otherwise, if the phone is damaged or lost in the mail, then you might have to refund the buyer out of your own pocket.

Can I Sell My Broken Phone? What 5 Different Sites Offered for Mine

Now we’re back to the question, can I sell my broken phones (and in my case, my smashed-to-smithereens phone)?

Not only did this happen to me several years ago, but just recently I had the unpleasant experience of smashing my phone to smithereens. I still wanted to know if I could get any money for it.

What I found is, yes, you can sell your broken phone. But you’re likely going to earn very little for doing so.

Of course, how much you can get depends on your model, if the phone still works at all, if it’s under warranty and all the other things we discussed above for how to get the best price for your used smartphone.

For me, the first time around I was only able to get $0.25 from BuyBackWorld (*womp, womp*). In fact, none of the other places would take it!

And this time – would someone buy back my iPhone 5 with the smashed screen (still working)?

In under 1 minute, I was able to get the following offers:

See why you need to shop around? My offers ranged from $0 all the way to $18.00.

Sell My Phone for Cash Today – Where Can I Sell My iPhone in Person?

If you’re looking to offload your used smartphone today and receive the cash TODAY, then your best bet is to locate an ecoATM location or sell it to a pawn shop.

Pawn shops work in two different ways, and I’d like to outline those here so that you don’t choose the wrong options (or you’re not surprised to find out).

You can go into a pawn shop and either:

  • Sell your phone
  • Give them your phone as collateral

For both options, you’ll walk out of there with cash. However, if you use your phone as collateral to get cash, then you’ve gotten a pawn shop lawn and your phone is the collateral in case you don’t pay.

If you sell your phone to them, then you do not get it back (and you don’t have to pay them back, either).

According to PawnGuru.com, in 2016, the average of all iPhones sold to a pawn shop was $110 (with the minimum being $5, and the maximum being $600).

Find out if you can get some quotes from local Pawn Shops to you using PawnShopGuru.com.

Note: you likely won’t get top-dollar doing it this way…but you will get some cash in hand.

Sell Your Phone Kiosk

As mentioned above, a sell-your-phone kiosk called ecoATM will actually hand you the cash for your phone, today (and they accept broken phones as well!). These are owned by Gazelle and can be found in grocery stores, Walmarts, and local malls across the United States.

You’ll need to charge your device, plus bring a government ID.

You can get estimated ecoATM phone prices as well by going here.

Wondering how to find an ecoATM near me? Here’s a listing of locations.

Phone Trade In

As discussed earlier, you can also use a trade-in program to get credit toward a future smartphone purchase.

Some places will accept smartphones with broken screens (but otherwise work), and others won’t. You can check out the following programs to get a quote on what credit you can receive:

Hint: I would price compare what you’ll get from a trade-in towards your next smartphone purchase with what the online companies mentioned above will pay you for your device. It just takes a few minutes, and could earn you more money.

Sell Used Electronics

This article might have gotten you excited about the idea of selling your other used electronics for money.

Trust me when I say, it can be done!

When trying to figure out how to cash in a bunch of electronics I found in our closet, I first had to determine what level of value I was working with:

  • usable
  • refurbish-able
  • end of life (i.e. recycle/scrap metal)

Through my research, I found that the amount of money you can get depends on the value of the device and on how you attempt to liquidate it.

Selling devices to others directly on eBay or Craigslist seems to reap the most money, followed by selling to sites that will refurbish them.

A last resort is scrap metaling it for extra cash followed by recycling it for reward points or for no points.

ItemBuy Back WorldGazelleTrade 2 saveBuy my tronicseBaySimply Sellular
iPad, first edition, 16 GB, 3G, fair condition$80$40$0$32No market for partsN/A
Phone: Samsung SCH-U490 Trance$0Does not buy this model$0$0Listing Price for Used: $15.99$2.00
Camera: Nikon COOLPIX L2 6.0 MP Digital Camera (works, but taped battery door)Does not buy this modelDoes not purchase digital camerasDoes not buy this modelNikon COOLPIX L2 6.0 MPListing Price for Used: $14.95)N/A
Printer: Lexmark Z45Does not purchase printersDoes not purchase printersDoes not purchase printersDoes not purchase printersListing price: $25.95N/A

The Results

Here is how I liquidated all of the above items (note that where there is shipping involved, the website provided the shipping and packaging for free):

  • iPad: I received $80 from BuyBack World.
  • Cell Phone: I originally posted the cell phone on eBay, but it did not sell. Instead, I sent it to Simply Sellular for $2.00. Tip: If you are looking for your cell phone model information, try taking out the battery and looking at the label behind it.
  • MP3 Player: This is an unbranded MP3 player that does not work so I didn’t take the time to research whether sites would accept it. Most of the sites above offered to recycle items for free. This is great and everything, but I was still hoping to reap something out of this item. So I sent it to Recyclebank where they offer up to 150 points for recycling an old electronic.  Since it was not branded, I had to fill out a form for a custom offer.
  • Camera: I originally posted the camera on eBay, but it also did not sell. I found that other cameras of the same make and model were selling successfully for $14.95. However, this camera has a piece of tape over the battery door. I took it to a scrap metal place but found that they did not accept it. Then I searched earth911.com and found that Staples by my home accepts digital cameras to recycle. Looks like an errand to run on the way home! Update: I met up with a reader who read this article and offered to purchase our digital camera for $25. Win-win for both of us. Thanks again!
  • Printer: This is a working printer, but it needs a cord. Other printers in the same condition, make, and model were selling successfully for $25.99 on eBay. So I decided to donate this item to The Goodwill and take a tax deduction. With the two empty ink cartridges, I was able to get a $4 store credit at Office Depot.

Total Reaped: $107 cash, $25.99 in tax deductions, $4 store credit to Office Depot, and 150 points for my Recyclebank account

I did not receive lots of cash for our old electronics, but it sure beats all of these items taking up space in our closet for another year! It also was nice to know that the hazardous waste materials inside of these electronics will not end up in the landfill.

  • BuyBackWorld: This place buys a whole bunch of different types of electronics. Such as digital cameras, tablets, gaming consoles, iPods, smart watches, Apple accessories, GPS, calculators, video cameras, camera lenses…and lots more. Take a look around, and clean out that electronics closet of yours!
  • Amazon.com: Amazon has a used electronics trade-in program where you can get a free Amazon gift card offer. Shipping is free for you.
  • GameStop Trade-in Program: These guys will give you cash or credit for electronics like gaming systems, gaming system accessories, tablets, etc.
  • ItsWorthMore: These guys will buy laptops, Apple watches, and tablets in addition to smartphones.
  • Sell Used Appliances: I’ve got an entire article written about how to get cash for old appliances.

Local Stores that Buy Cell Phones

Wondering “Who buys broken cell phones near me?”

If you don’t want to do the online research we discussed above, then you’ve got a few different options available to you in order to sell your phone for cash near you.

  1. Sell to a Pawn Shop: You can find a local pawn shop near you, and sell it to them. Don’t want to venture out of your home without knowing for sure if a pawn shop offer will be good for you? Find out if you can get some quotes from local Pawn Shops to you using PawnShopGuru.com. Also, please be aware that there are two different ways to get cash from a pawn shop – by selling something like your phone to them, or by giving them your phone as collateral and you get a cash loan you’ll need to pay back. Make sure you know the offer when you get a quote.
  2. Find an ecoATM Near You: These are phone kiosks located in local malls, Walmarts, and grocery stores, where you can physically take your phone + accessories, and leave with cash (if you accept the offer – if not? They just give you your phone back). You don’t even need to leave your home to get an estimated ecoATM phone price as well by going here.
  3. Sell to a Person Who Scraps E-waste Metals: You can find a person who takes smartphones as part of their scrap metal for cash business (they do need to specialize in e-waste or electronics waste).
  4. Find a Store Near You with a Trade-In Program that Offers Cash: Not all phone trade-in programs only offer credit; some offer cash as well. For example, GameStop’s trade-in program will give you credit or cash, your choice.
  5. Cash for Phones Walmart: Does Walmart buy phones? You won't actually get cash for your phone at Walmart, but you will get a Walmart gift card through their gadget-to-gift-cards program. However, you'll need to send your gadget in a prepaid envelope and wait for your e-gift card.

There you have it – you've got all sorts of options for getting cash for all those phones, electronics, and appliances hanging around your house. The next question to ask yourself is: what will you do with the money you get?

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Amanda L Grossman

Personal Finance Writer and CEO at Frugal Confessions, LLC
Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 13 years, her money work has helped people with how to save money and how to manage money. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Real Simple Magazine, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here or on LinkedIn.

Shaylee Packer

Friday 27th of December 2019

I didn't realize that if your phone was under warranty, you would get a better price for it. Does the warranty go with the phone then, and not disappear when the phone is sold? I have been thinking about selling my phone so that I can upgrade. I will have to look and see if the warranty on it is still good.


Friday 31st of August 2018

Nowadays, you will find people online who buy broken phones. It is none of my concern what they do with such phones. I just love the fact that I can get something out of it.


Thursday 14th of April 2016

There are some stores even that will purchase used cell phones, not just online places - so you can look into that too. I am not sure if you have one in your area. A lot of times the price that you will get for your used phone will depend on your make, model, and condition of the phone. Thanks for sharing!

Money Beagle

Monday 11th of April 2016

The four of us under our current plan are all to the point where we'll be looking at new phones soon. I've actually started paying attention the various e-mails I get about different deals, because some actually would make sense. I just need to time them accordingly. What we would get for our current phones is definitely something to take into consideration.

Amanda L Grossman

Monday 11th of April 2016

Good luck on sifting through everything! Let me know if I can help.

Kevin Watts @Graduatingfromdebt

Wednesday 24th of April 2013

Good list. I am lucky enough to be grandfathered with Sprint and have unlimited data plan. However the coverage in my area sucks! I now what to do when my contact ends. Here's a good post describing what you can do save money on your monthly bill: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/10/11/our-new-10-00-per-month-iphone-plans/


Thursday 25th of April 2013

That's great you were grandfathered in! Do you have WiFi you can connect to for free so that your coverage improves?