If you've ever wondered where old mobile phones and electronic devices such as tablets go to die, it's pretty simple. Some get tossed into a recycle bin somewhere to be parted out and melted down. IPhones are often passed down to children to be used as iPod touch substitutes. A large number are basically forgotten and lost to neglect. However, a growing number find a next life with a new owner.
Turns out that the secondary market for electronic devices is nearly as robust as the primary market.
*Sell It Yourself
Selling your phone directly to a new user has the greatest profit potential, but it can be risky.
Craigslist. What amounts to one ginormous online classified ad, Craigslist is a place that will turn up buyers for your item -- folks willing to pay you cash. And things could go very well. Or not. There are pitfalls you should know about: Potential buyers make appointments and promises and then fail to show up. You need to establish a well-lit, public pickup location because you have no idea who you're dealing with. You open yourself up for sketchy calls and texts, threats and more. Consider carefully whether you are ready to deal with any of that.
eBay. You can auction your item on eBay and see where that goes. Make sure you go in knowing that eBay heavily favors buyers if transactions go sour. When that happens, buyer chargebacks to the seller are all too common. And should eBay require that you accept the item's return including a full refund to the buyer, good luck with getting it back in the condition you sent it out.
*Trade It In
Trading your phone or other device for cash, store credit or gift cards is the lesser of the profitable methods but the safest because once it leaves your possession, you are not liable for issues that may arise.
iPhone Trade-Up. If Apple is willing to take your older iPhone on trade (programs come and go, so check to see what is currently available), you will be paid in credit toward the cost of a new phone, not cash.
Best Buy Trade-In. The negotiated value will be paid out to you in Best Buy gift cards. That's not bad if you plan to buy your new phone there, but it's not ideal if you want to look elsewhere.
Gazelle. This third-party trade-in company offers straight cash via check, PayPal or Amazon electronic gift card for your phone or device. Even if your iPhone is broken and will not turn on, Gazelle will more than likely still pay you $50 or $75 for it.
Having researched and carefully weighed all of these options, my pick for the best way to resell used iPhones and other electronic devices is the online third-party trade-in company Gazelle (www.everydaycheapskate.com/gazelle).
You can go to the Gazelle website and, without making any commitments, receive an on-the-spot cash offer for your device followed by complete instructions for how to send it in should you wish to proceed. They really make it easy with a box and a prepaid shipping label that arrive in your mailbox in less than a week.
Mary Hunt's column, "Everyday Cheapskate," can be found at creators.com.