With the release of the iPhone 12 series, many consumers are interested in trading in their older-generation iPhones for some extra cash. The market for used iPhones is growing larger by the day, and the process can be overwhelming because of the many different ways there are to cash in on your old device. Do you sell it? Trade it in for a store credit? Well, we’ve created this guide to answer those questions. Keep in mind, this guide assumes your iPhone is in relatively good condition (it’s safe to assume your Spider-Man-custom cracked screen isn’t in high demand).
Offer: Up to $450
Best for: when trading in for iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Max, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max
Strings attached: company credit
Apple offers a relatively straightforward trade-in process that will give you up to $450 (iPhone XS Max) towards your next Apple purchase. You have the option to use this credit towards your new device or opt for an Apple gift card of corresponding value. The obvious downside is that you’re forced to use your trade-in money at Apple; you aren’t just handed the money and free to spend it on whatever you want.
Best for: minimal hassle
Strings attached: none
The new kid on the block, Gazelle, has become the go-to option for Apple users wanting to quickly and effortlessly sell their old devices. Unlike trading in your iPhone at the Apple store for a company credit, Gazelle offers cash with no strings attached and it’s actually surprisingly simple. Go to Gazelle.com, select the device you want to sell, note its condition, and then plug in your address and general info. Gazelle will send you a prepaid shipping box that you will mail back with your old device. You can expect to receive your cash within 7-10 business days of your device being received.
Best for: maximum return
Strings attached: 13% fee to eBay and PayPal
The return you can get on eBay for your old iPhone is highly variable. Is your device in great condition? How long are you willing to wait for the best price? All things considered, you can expect somewhere around $200-$350 in return. eBay is your best option if you want the most cold-hard cash. You may, however, have to wait a few days longer than you normally would by just trading it in to a retailer--and you’ll lose 13% on your sales price as your eBay/PayPal fee. There’s also the looming possibility of potentially shady buyers and/or returns (so maybe hold off on taking your roommates out for a round of drinks right away).
Best for: when transferring to a new carrier
Strings attached: company credit
There’s decent value to be had by trading in your old device at one of the above cell carriers. The catch, of course, is that you’re stuck with a company credit towards your next purchase or current payment plan. But hey, if you are already thinking of switching carriers for one of those “50% less than your current plan” offers, it might not be a bad decision to throw in an extra $250 to sweeten the pot.
Best for: maximum and fastest return
Strings attached: seedy customers
Similar to eBay in many respects, Craigslist is the best place to get the maximum return for your old iPhone. Also like eBay, you may have to deal with the occasional seedy buyer and/or odd request. No, I won’t trade you my iPhone for a 15-year-old wicker chair. If you can get past that, though, you stand to net the highest return as there’s no transaction fee, and you can have the cash in your hand in a matter of hours.