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What To Do With Old Cell Phones – Donate, Recycle, or Sell for Cash

I can think of 9 different cell phones that I have owned over the years. Granted, that may not seem like a lot to many of you who may get a new phone every 6 months or every year, but that’s how many phones I have bought/sold/traded in since 1996. Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, there really wasn’t much of a market for used cell phones because the internet wasn’t as huge as it is today, so anyone who got rid of their phone usually just tossed it in the trash or recycled it if their community offered it. But today is a different story; there are cell phone recycling bins in almost every electronics store for phones which cannot be resold, and there are plenty of online avenues for making back some of your money on your purchase. This is especially true for smart phones like the iPhone, Blackberries and Android phones. These phones can have some incredibly high resale values, as was my experience selling my 1st generation iPhone. I sold it on eBay for more than I bought it for in the first place. Someone wanted an unlocked/out of contract iPhone to use either on ATT or T-Mobile, so they paid a pretty hefty amount for it – over $200. Considering I paid $199 for it in the first place, I would say I definitely got my money’s worth with that phone. I then rolled that money into my (then new) 3GS iPhone, saving me over $200 on that purchase. That was quite a score!

Besides eBay or Craigslist, which are the two most popular online classifieds, there are a bunch of options for selling your slightly used cell phone. Here are a few you may want to check out:

While websites offering you money for your cell phone might be the easiest way to sell your item, they probably won’t make you the most money. I still think eBay is the best place to sell items like this because when I look through what is for sale, I see what others are willing to pay for unlocked cell phones. It is often more than a new one would cost, meaning that the seller can usually make back all, if not more, than the money they originally spent.

For lower-end cell phones (i.e. not smart phones) that aren’t really worth too much cash anymore, the best thing to do when you are done with them is to donate them or properly recycle them. While your local Staples, Best Buy, or phone retailer usually has recycling bins you can drop your phone into, here are a few more options for you to look into:

Whatever you do, do not just toss your old cell phone into the trash. There are many toxic chemicals and parts that can leach into the ground over time, contaminating our water and food. Be sure to properly recycle and/or sell your phone so that either you can make some money back, help out someone in need, or at a minimum keep dangerous chemicals out of the environment.

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Comments (4)

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  1. John Cooper says:

    I used a fantastic site called http://www.sellmymobile.com which I would recommend to anyone due to the fact they are a great mobile phone recycling comparison site. I was able to compare all the prices on their site and get the most cash. Would defo recommend them!:)

  2. Great blog, you covered all the bases. I run one of the sites you mentioned (thanks), http://www.SellYourCell.com. You are 100% correct that you will get the maximum price by selling your cell phone yourself on eBay or Craig’s list. People use sites like ours to remove the hassle.

    A couple tips though if you use eBay – 1) Make sure you only ship to a PayPal verified address otherwise you might be shipping to someone that stole someone else credit card.
    2) Don’t ship internationally. You can get more money shipping internationally but it’s too big a risk if you aren’t shipping a lot and willing to risk a loss every now an then. The issue is that if the phone is lost on its way or someone says that they didn’t get it, PayPal will give the buyer a refund. It is really expensive to track a shipment overseas so you have no way of knowing if it reached its destination or not. Too big a risk.
    3)The most obvious tip is not to ship anything until you have received payment. PayPal is easiest but if you accept another form, make sure that it clears in your bank before your ship.
    4) Pay the extra money (less than $2) to get confirmation of receipt from the USPS. That way their is no dispute on whether the buyer got the phone or not. Again, PayPal always assumes the buyer is right and will refund them if their is no evidence of receipt.

    Good luck and I hope you get a lot of money for your phone (maybe from us)!

  3. Michelle says:

    I worked for a Verizon Wireless Agent for 17 years. We would donate ours to the batter womens shelter. Phones are just like computers. If you do not clear them out the next person who uses it has access to all of your pictures, videos and even phone numbers. Please make sure you do a master clear on your phone before handing it in. Refer to your phone manual or go online to see how to do it for your phone model.

  4. Patrick says:

    Great list. One thing to keep in mind if you’re trading in your phone for cash is to make sure the site guarantees to
    delete all your personal texts, photos, emails, contacts etc. from the phone if you haven’t done so already yourself.
    You may also want to check sites like http://www.sellmymobile.com or http://www.selliphoneforcash.com to make sure you’re getting the best price.

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