How to make the most money from your old phone
Don’t just dial it in when you sell your mobile – our 5-minute read will ensure you always get the best price for your old phone.
It’s official – we’ve reached peak mobile. There are now more mobile phones in the UK than there are people, and the number of mobiles is growing faster than we are.
Obviously there’s only one way to beat the inevitable takeover by our robot masters: don’t just hoard your old mobiles – get your cash back!
Use our mobile phone price comparison tool to see how much money you might be sitting on, then use the tips on this page to maximise the pay-off.
What's on this page?
- Always compare sites or stores before offloading your phone – prices can vary massively!
- You’ll get a better price if your phone isn’t tied to a specific network, so it could be worth unlocking your phone first (don't worry, your network will probably do it for you for free!).
- Give your phone a once over with a soft, dry cloth but don’t go OTT with sprays, water or wet wipes. If you’ve got some blemishes beyond a bit of dust (we're talking dents and scratches) you’re better off not fussing with them.
- Get in the habit of keeping the original box and accessories when you buy or get gadgets. They can add a few extra quid to the value when it comes to getting rid!
- Busted phone? You could still beat store prices by selling it for spare parts yourself – just find a private buyer.
- If you’re going to put the cash towards buying a new phone, ask your network if you can trade-up instead (but go with whichever is higher: trade-in value or cash for selling).
- If your best offer is embarrassingly low, don’t feel you have to sell. Keep your oldie as a spare for travelling, or consider recycling it through your local charity shop so they get the cash.
- If you’re still paying for phone insurance, don’t forget to cancel when you sell the handset…
- Finally, don’t forget to remove your SIM card, copy and wipe your data, and reset to factory settings before you say sayonara to your handset!
Where to sell your phone for the biggest return
Deciding to take the plunge and offload your phone? Before you do, allow us to take you through your options…
Phone recycling sites are pretty simple really – head over to the website, add some details about your gadget (make, model and condition), and they'll give you a guide price.
Most sites will then either send you a postage-paid pack or tell you how to get your phone to them for free. They pay out once they’ve received and checked your phone. Simple, right?
There’s no shortage of companies offering money for your mobile but, like stocking up on sweets at the cinema, it can be a pricey pick ‘n’ mix if you don’t shop around. So, first-up, use our mobile cash converter tool to see what the main sites are offering for your phone.
Some sites also reserve higher prices for those who take payment in store cards or gift vouchers.
Our price comparison tool can help you price things up fast, but if you want to do it the long way here are just some of the sites you can check for yourself:
How to avoid getting stung
How much stores actually pay also depends on how they assess the condition of your phone. That’s been a sticking point in the past, with some sites getting a rep for under-paying on their guide prices.
That said, most will give your phone back without obligation if you’re not happy with the offer – just check the terms before you agree anything. It’s also worth challenging the price if you think your phone’s been unfairly assessed – you may find they’ll up the ante to secure the sale.
The good news is that lots of phone recyclers don’t care whether you’ve still got the original box or accessories, and they’ll even pay out for broken phones (just not as much). It’s less of a sweet deal on older or less popular models, where you could be looking at as little as a couple of quid.
Packing your phone off to a commercial store or recycling site might be quicker and (slightly) less hassle, but you could be missing out on a better deal. Why? Because while commercial buyers offer decent prices for old phones, they then sell them on for as much as three times what they paid you. That cash could be yours!
If you want in on the action, here are six ways to take things into your own hands:
- Ebay is an easy go-to for selling unwanted gear ‘n’ gifts to folk across the UK (and the world) – but remember you’ll lose a slice of your profit in fees and postage costs. Take a look at our vital eBay selling tips first!
- You can list for free on Facebook, either in local ‘for sale' or ‘wanted' groups, or on the Marketplace feature.
- It’s also free to list private sales on Gumtree, affording you another way to reach buyers locally and across the UK.
- Don’t forget the low-tech options: stick flyers up around uni or in local shops, libraries and supermarkets.
- If you’ve got lots of fans or followers on social media, try tweeting or posting your listing instead – you may find someone who’ll take your phone off your hands.
- Selling to friends, family, colleagues or course mates can be all-round quicker, cheaper, safer and less hassle! Have a look at other listings for your phone’s make and condition to get a fair price, or consider swapsies for lower-value gadgets.
How to avoid getting stung
The downside of selling to a private buyer rather than a commercial organisation is less protection when things go wrong. Don’t be put off – just arm yourself with these common-sense strategies!
- Take lots of quality photos (and videos) of your phone. As well as eye-candy on listings, you can use them as proof of its condition if a rogue buyer tries to pull a cheeky one!
- Be totally honest about your phone’s condition and what’s included (or isn’t). It’ll move things along much faster, and avoids any bad karma…
- If you’re mailing your phone, make sure it’s well-padded, and use a signed-for delivery service. It costs a few quid, so ask the buyer to pay for postage or add the cost into your selling price. Royal Mail’s Signed For service gets a signature on delivery, is trackable, and comes with up to £50 in compensation if they lose or damage your item. There’s higher compensation on Special Delivery services.
- Selling locally means you can ditch postage costs, but if you don’t know your buyer, arrange to meet in a safe, public place (or have your mates hang around). Try to swap contact details before you part with your gadget, too: name, address, place of work or social media username.
- If you’re registered with your bank for mobile payments (or have an app like Circle), you can get paid instantly without having to share your banking details – plus there's no fees, either.
Credit: Hilts uk – Flickr
No time for tactics? No worries!
Start with our phone selling tool to see how much you could get, then have a look elsewhere online to see how much selling privately could nab you.
Ask friends and family whether they’ll take your handset off your hands. If it’s a no, just stick with a mobile phone recycling site for a quick sale.
Wanna swap tips? Stick ‘em in a comment below – we’ll share and credit the best ones in this or other guides to keep the goodness going!