Trading in Your iPhone? You May Lose $100 or More

There are many businesses dedicated to allowing users to trade in their used iPhone for quick cash, and even a lot of retailers and carrier stores are getting in on the action as well. If you don’t want to hassle with selling your old iPhone yourself, trade-in programs can save the day and make it easy to get rid of it. However, trading in your old iPhone is a huge mistake, and you’re missing out on a lot of cash — possibly at least $100.

First, the idea behind trade-in programs is that they offer you cash for an old iPhone and then turn around and sell it to someone else. They need to make a profit from doing this, so they usually give you way less than what your old iPhone is truly worth, that way they can make money when they sell it used to someone else for a decent price.

Are iPhone trade-in programs worth it?

As sketchy as this sounds just from reading that, it’s not illegal or anything, and the benefit of using trade-in programs is that it allows you to just quickly get rid of your old iPhone without any hassle, and getting some cold hard cash in return — not a lot of cash, but some.

The Difference

Let’s take a look at some examples. We’ll be using Gazelle to see what the trade-in values are for different iPhone models, since it’s one of the most popular trade-in programs on the internet.

Gazelle will give you $230 for a 16GB Verizon iPhone 5 that is in flawless condition. On eBay, you can easily get at least $300 for that same model, with some auctions that I saw reaching as high as over $400.

As for the iPhone 4s, Gazelle will offer you $140 for an AT&T 16GB version if it’s in flawless condition. However, selling it on eBay will fetch at least an easy $200, even if it has a few scrapes and bruises.

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The difference continues to rise when you deal with higher-capacity models, like 32GB and 64GB. Gazelle only gives you $5 more for a 32GB iPhone 4s than a 16GB version, and only $10 more for a 64GB model. On eBay or Craigslist, you’d get quite a bit more than just $10 if you were to sell a 64GB model rather than a 16GB version.

The evidence is pretty clear that selling an old iPhone yourself is more beneficial, and I think a lot of users know this, but they’re simply willing to lose out on a lot of money potentially by just handing it over to a trade-in program and getting some quick cash on the spot.

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Doing the Math

Of course, we don’t blame these kinds of users, but think about it in terms similar to an hourly pay rate for a job:

Listing your old iPhone on eBay maybe takes 30 minutes, if you include the time it took to take photos of the device and typing out a good description. You can even use this easy tool from eBay to list your iPhone even faster, which will also give you a rough estimate on what price you should start the listing at.

Then, once the auction is over, you have to ship it out to the buyer. Packing up the iPhone in a box takes about 10 minutes and then driving to your post office on your way home from work maybe takes 20 extra minutes.

That means you spent one hour selling your iPhone on eBay. That’s one hour longer that you spent trying to get rid of your iPhone than if you were to just hand it over to a trade-in program. However, let’s say that your iPhone sold for $100 more on eBay than the offer that you got from Gazelle. This means that you essentially just made $100 for an hour’s worth of work. That’s not too shabby.

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