Thinking of Trading in Your Old Phone? Read This First. (Updated)

Updated: Mar 10

I have been a long-time iPhone user (ever since the 3G came out) but have recently transitioned to the Google ecosystem for reasons I will post about in the future. After a long-running dispute over billing issues, I recently switched from AT&T to T-Mobile. Having an Android phone is extremely convenient when your main computer is a Chromebook, as it seamlessly connects information between the two devices, including my favorite feature – texting from your laptop. I’m not sure about you, but I hate typing on a phone’s keyboard, where I’m slow and inaccurate, and having a full-size keyboard at your disposal while communicating by SMS is far more effective.

So with my decision to switch carriers and buy a new phone, I realized I had some options for selling my old phone. The first and most convenient was to trade my iPhone 11 Max Pro to T-Mobile for a $330 credit against future bills. The price seemed a little low to me, so I did a bit of research, and my exact phone fetched up to $760 online. As a long-time eBay user, I decided to list it for sale, but after a few weeks, I had no luck. Figuring $500 is still better than $330, I lowered the price, and it sold almost immediately.

Then came the disappointment. I’ve never been a massive fan of packaging and shipping items, even when I owned my computer store and had an eBay storefront, tons of shipping supplies on hand, and the spare time to make drop-offs to FedEx, UPS, and the Postal Service. After piecing together a box and some bubble wrap, I printed my shipping label and was surprised it cost over $10. However, I still made $490 on the phone, right? Wrong. I have always known eBay’s taking their cut of the sale but was amazed at how much of a chunk they are now taking, probably because I don’t have an eBay Store anymore, but still, $64 on a $500 sale seems steep. While $425 is a shade better than the $330 offered by T-Mobile, I had to wonder if the extra legwork paid off. It turns out I would have made a little more if I had done some research instead of just defaulting to good old eBay to sell my phone.

May I introduce you to – Swappa, a site I hadn’t heard of before today but appears to have an excellent online reputation for being a great place to sell electronics and electronics only. They make a big deal about how low their fees are, but it gets a little ugly when you dig deeper. Swappa splits the cost of the sale fee between the buyer and the seller, who pay 3% of the final sale price each. Swappa only accepts payments through Paypal, and unlike eBay, which covers the cost of Paypal transactions, Swappa does not cover the transaction fee for Paypal, which is passed on to the seller at 3.5% of the sale price. You end up saving money using Swappa over eBay, but it appears that extra profit comes at your customer’s expense. It’s a shade better for the seller, worse for the buyer, and the platform doesn’t have the same reach as eBay.

Obviously, selling locally is another great option if you are comfortable dealing with strangers. With no middlemen, you get the full asking price for your device without shipping or fees. This is ideal, but you may have a limited audience depending on where you live.

In conclusion, I found that there is significant money to be made selling your perfectly good phone yourself rather than trading it in. If your phone is damaged, however, you may want to take advantage of some carrier’s promise to take your device in any condition and provide you with a new phone.

Chris Andreae – Technology Editor for Mommies With Style


  1. What great advice and new information for me in the future. I am on my first iphone and switched from AT&T to Verizon. I also have Chrome and see their advice on linking to android. Of course being a non-teacnical person, I did not know what that meant. Thanks Chris!!!! When I’m ready to change phones, it looks like I would really like Android. Texting would be so much easier for me on my laptop than on the phone. I look forward to more blogs from you.

  2. Agree with Brenda on advice to switch to an Android phone for the texting feature on Chrome. Good suggestions Chris , and a great detailed article on the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ to sell old phone!

  3. Hard to part with my iPhone, my old iPhone and my old, old iPhone. I have these grand illusions of using them as webcams one day. Anyway, Nice article. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for the response! If your iPhone and iPhone 6s, first generation SE or earlier, you really should consider an upgrade as Apple will no longer be supporting those products. This is important because one of the most important aspects of that support comes in the form of security patches, which they will no longer issue for older phones. Hackers catch on to new vulnerabilities rather quickly and the patches can generally lower the gates on them. With older phones, they will no longer do that and you’re left basically at the whim of bad actors. Webcams are cheap and plentiful these days, if you’d like a recommendation for one you can e-mail me at with what you want to do with one and I can help from there. Cheers!

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