Did Apple’s recent event convince you that you want a new iPhone, but you aren’t sure how you’re going to pay the tab? Consider selling your old phone. The best sites to sell a cell phone will either buy your phone outright or help you sell it directly to another consumer. A late-model smart phone can command hundreds of dollars, dramatically cutting the cost of getting a new device.

Best sites to sell a cell

However, the amount you’ll receive and the ease of selling a used smart phone will vary based on the device you’re selling and the site you use to market it. If the phone is “locked” — pledged to a specific cell carrier — that can also affect the price.

There are two ways to go: sell to sites that buy your phone for resale or sell directly to another consumer. You generally get more when you sell direct, but it can require more time and effort.

Which are the best sites to sell a cell phone? SideHusl’s editors took a look at a dozen different options, including Swappa, Gazelle, BuyBackWorld, MaxBack and TheWhizCells. This is what we found.

Selling direct

It’s no surprise that if you sell direct to another consumer, you’re likely to get more than if you sell to a wholesaler. After all, wholesalers need to turn around and resell your phone for a profit. When you sell direct, there’s no middle-man to eat up a share of the proceeds.

The downside to selling direct, of course, is there’s no guarantee that you’ll get your listing price. And you have to spend the time to find a buyer, negotiate, ship and collect payment. That said, a SideHusl analysis indicates that you could get $100 more for a late-model cell phone by selling direct. Even if the process takes an extra 4 hours, that’s a pretty decent return on your time.

Best direct-sale sites

All-purpose direct-to-consumer sales sites, such as CraigsList and Facebook Marketplace, are a good place to start. Since neither site charges a fee to list items for sale, there is absolutely no downside to posting your phone. 

But you’d be well-advised to require cash payment when selling on these sites. CraigsList, in particular, is known for being a target for scammers, who attempt to pay sellers with bogus checks.

Didn’t get a good offer on CraigsList or Facebook Marketplace? Try listing your phone on an electronics-only site, such as Swappa. Swappa allows you to list for free. However, the site will add a $10 to $15 site fee to the sales price. Thus when you list a phone for $400, the buyer will pay $415. That extra $15 goes to Swappa. 

Because the site specializes in electronics, all buyers are in the market for what you’re selling. That boosts the chance that you’ll find a buyer. Swappa maintains that most late-model cell phones sell within hours of listing.

Sellers are likely to get a better deal here than with resale sites, too. When we tested a variety of recent model cell phones, we found sales prices that were $75 – $150 higher than purchase offers on other sites. The differential for older phones was somewhat less — $50 – $75. 

Selling to a reseller

However, the vast majority of sites that buy cell phones are wholesalers, who aim to resell your phone at a profit elsewhere. Literally dozens of sites like this compete for your used electronics.

These sites focus on the most popular brands, though. If you have an iPhone or a Samsung, you’ll have plenty of sites to choose from. If you have a less popular device, such as a Google Pixel, there are fewer resale choices.

Price comparison sites

Notably, two sites — Flipsy and SellCell — purport to find the best price for any cell phone by connecting you with offers from dozens of different wholesale sites. However, SideHusl found that their offers didn’t always match the offers made directly through those same sites. Nor did these comparison-shopping sites always present the best offer for the phone.

For instance, Flipsy says GreenBuyback would pay the most — $176 — for a Samsung Galaxy S5E, with 128 gigabytes of memory. However, you could get $190 for this phone by selling it directly through TheWhizCells. SellCell’s best offer for the same phone was just $5.

If you were selling an iPhone XR, both sites offered competitive quotes — $325 to $330. However, neither Flipsy nor SellCell guarantee that you’ll actually receive the bid price.

Almost all resellers reserve the right to revise their offers when they receive your phone. If the phone shows more wear than you reported, they can reduce their offer — often dramatically. Shopping comparison sites take no responsibility for your dissatisfaction when that happens. And some of the sites that they list are notorious for bait-and-switch tactics.

It’s smart to take copious photographs of your device and check the buyer’s reputation before sending your phone. Also make sure that the purchaser will return your phone, at their expense, if you don’t like the revised offer.

Best reseller sites

While it takes a bit more time, price-comparing on your own at a handful of top-rated phone resale sites can allow you to get a good deal with less risk of a rescinded offer. The top-rated phone reseller sites on SideHusl.com are TheWhizCells, MaxBack and ItsWorthMore.

Their ratings are the result of paying the highest prices for sample phones, getting a preponderance of good customer reviews, and having few complaints about surprise re-pricing. Gazelle, which once ranked among the best sites, was downgraded this week as the result of recent consumer complaints. Not only does Gazelle rarely offer the best prices any more, consumers say the site is quick to cut its purchase offers when the phones are sent in.  

How much can you get? 

How much should you expect for your used sell phone? If you were selling an iPhone XR in excellent condition, with 128 GB of memory, you’d get $300 at TheWhizCells; $288 at MaxBack and $260 at ItsWorthMore.

If the same phone was in poor condition — working but with a broken screen, for instance, ItsWorthMore would pay the most — $135. MaxBack would pay $130. TheWhizCells offered just $40.

Notably, BuyBackWorld promised a touch more — up to $325 — for the same phone. However, consumers complain that the site is extremely slow to process phones and often drastically reduces the price offered once the phone is sent in. These complaints are so pervasive with BuyBackWorld that we’re doubtful that you can trust quotes provided by this site.

Meanwhile, a Samsung Note 9 would bring in between $50 and $334, depending on the condition and the site. As was almost always the case, Swappa promised the best price, while TheWhizCells, MaxBack and ItsWorthMore were competitive with each other at about $200 for pristine phones and considerably less for those that had flaws.