A week ago, I wrote about recycling, donating, or selling your electronics. Phones are probably the easiest to sell since many people upgrade their phones every two years. I left my old phones in a drawer for a year and never thought they would be worth anything–but I was wrong. So, go and get those old phones, and I will walk you through how I made almost $75 on phones that must be at least three or more years old. (In “electronic-speak”–that’s grandma old.)
But what I don’t want you to do is pitch those phones in a landfill. In 2012, the Center for Ecology found of the 36 cell phones tested, 100 percent contain chemical hazards that include lead and mercury. Worse yet, 130 million phones are discarded with most ending up in landfills or incinerators. Can you simply imagine how many toxic metals are in our landfills unnecessarily?
According to Jeff Gearhart, research director of the Center for Ecology,
“These chemicals, which are linked to birth defects, impaired learning and other serious health problems, have been found in soils at levels 10 to 100 times higher than background levels at e-waste recycling sites in China,” said Gearhart. “We need better federal regulation of these chemicals, and we need to create incentives for the design of greener consumer electronics.”
In addition, we can recover precious metals when we don’t discard electronic devices.
“According to the EPA, “Experts estimate that recycling 1 million cell phones can recover about 24 kg (50 lb) of gold, 250 kg (550 lb) of silver, 9 kg (20 lb) of palladium, and more than 9,000 kg (20,000 lb) of copper.” [Source.]
So, now that I established there is NO reason to discard your phones. Read on.
Starting the Cell Phone Trade-in Program.
As I mention in my recycling electronic article, there are a myriad of companies that will buy back your old electronics. The trick is finding out which one will pay you the most and are not scam artists. Here is what you need:
- And most importantly, the type of phone (Samsung, Motorola, etc.), your carrier, and the right model number. If you don’t know your model, don’t guess. It is a waste of time. Simply turn on the phone and follow the instructions HERE. (If this tutorial is outdated, let me know. I only know my phone.)
You might need to charge your phones to find out the model unless you can take out the battery to reveal the model number.
I have an Android Droid Razr and 2 DroidMs. When I started to look through the lists, I had no idea there were different Droid Razr! So I repeat. Know your model number before looking through the various site.
Selling Cell Phones Online:
I search the internet just like everyone else does for selling cell phones and check out the first two pages of Google for some companies. I found the following:
- Usell (Cell phones only. Payment: PayPal or check. )
- Gazelle (You can trade in multiple electronics. Payment is by check, Amazon.com gift cards or PayPal.)
- iReTron (Cell phones only. Payment is by check or PayPal.)
- Glyde (Cell phones only. Payment is as follows: either withdraw your cash to your bank account, select Bitcoin as your payment method or get a paper check mailed to you. If you opt for a check, there is a $2.00 fee.)
- Amazon (You can trade in different products. Payment is an Amazon gift card.)
- NextWorth ( You can trade in multiple electronics. Payment: NextWorth Discover Card, Pay Pal, Check or Target Gift Card.)
Usell had the best prices by far for my phones, but as I mentioned above that might not be the case for your phones or other electronic equipment.
Brick and Mortar Trade in Programs
Everyone seems to get in the game of buying back electronics. Target, Best Buy, and GameStop (through BuyMyTronics) offer trade in programs as well.
Best Buy offers an online valuation program and then you simply bring in your tradeable products to the store. (Video games, etc.) There you will receive a Best Buy gift card. Remember, you can recycle a multitude of products at Best Buy as well so don’t come empty handed.
NextWorth has partnered with Target so that you can bring your electronic equipment to the nearest Target location. (You can access the value of your products right on Target’s site.)
Ecoatm offers kiosks to trade in your phone located in the United States. Simply drop it in the machine. The machine will access your cell phone’s value, find purchasers, and pay you cash.
Be Cautious. Sometimes Prices are too Good to Be True.
I can be a little naive and thought whatever these companies quote me is the real deal. Think again. According to a CNBC article, some companies create a bait and switch. They offer you an amazing price but when they receive your phone, they discount it drastically.
In the article, Fraud.com has received multiple complaints about eCycleBest.com and CashforLaptops. So before you choose a company, check the following sources for complaints:
Of the ones I listed above, the Better Business Bureau gave them the following rating:
- Usell: A
- Gazelle: A+
- iReTron: A-
- Glyde: B
- Ecoatm: A-
- Nextworth: A+
Trade in Immediately
According to US World and News Report article, Lisa Koivu notes that if you love gadgets and want the best price, it is best to trade in right after a new version of that gadget is released.
“For instance, Gazelle was offering one of the highest trade-in values that I saw for the iPhone 5 in the week immediately following the release of the iPhone 6.”
My Experience Selling Cell Phones Online:
As I mentioned above, I used USell since they gave me the best trade in price. Admittedly, it was very easy. I simply found my phones, clicked that they were in good condition, and received an email that my pre-paid mailer was on the way.
If you have more than one phone to trade in, you will have to complete three different transactions.
It took about a week to get my mailers. (Two came together and one came about four days later.)
Once I received them, I removed the data cards from each of the phones. Then I slipped the phones into a bubble wrapped package then put it in a prepackaged mailer. All, you have to do at this point, is bring the package to the post office and wait for your payment.
I will update the post as soon as I receive payment.
Note, if you are looking for immediate gratification or instant clutter proofing, I would choose the brick and mortar options. I placed my order on January 8. Now I am waiting to be paid.
The whole process so far has taken about 2 1/2 weeks. To be honest, I delayed my payment since I didn’t mail the phones to Usell as soon as I received my mailers.
Cell Phone Eco-Fundraising or Charity Donations.
Don’t forget. Some people just don’t want the hassle of discarding their phones. Consider offering an eco-fundraiser to earn some cash for your school. Listed HERE are some electronic fundraising sites or charity donation site for your use.
Join the Conversation:
Have you sold your old cell phones?