In this guide we’ll show you the best places to buy used or refurbished phones in 2019. Where you can get big discounts on an iPhone, Galaxy S9, iPad and many other lightly used gadgets. It’s a great way to get a new-to-you device and save some money. Here’s what you need to know and avoid paying retail prices.
Phones are expensive, almost too expensive. The Galaxy S10+ is nearly $1,000 and Apple’s iPhone Xs is even more. Some people will pay retail prices, but millions of people look for and find a good deal on a used or refurbished phone instead.
In fact, you can get an older Galaxy S8 for under $200 or a used iPhone 8 at heavy discounts if you know where to look. Refurbished phones are often over 50% off, if not more. And while you can’t walk into Verizon and buy a used phone, and Craigslist isn’t very safe, you still have several options. Here are the best places to buy a used, refurbished, or even an open box phone.
Recent reports by the IDC suggests the used phone market will reach 220 million devices sold each year by 2022. Making the used or refurbished phones and iPad market worth an estimated $52 billion a year. As phone prices rise, more and more people are choosing to buy used.
Used or Refurbished?
There are two main categories when you’re buying a phone that is not brand new. Those being used, and refurbished.
- Used Phone – Cheapest option but comes with fewer guarantees and no warranty
- Refurbished Phone – Repaired by a certified technician and often comes with some sort of warranty
Buying a used phone can save you tons of money, but it’s also risky if you’re not careful or know what to look for. With a refurbished phone you get a device repaired by an official site, store, or technician and they go through rigorous testing/inspections before being sold. We recommend refurbished phones first.
The term “refurbished” gets thrown around a lot though, and it doesn’t always mean what you think. Some places sell used phones, refurbished phones, or you’ll see terms like recertified, reconditioned, or even pre-owned. As long as you buy it from a reputable site you’ll end up with a good phone at a big discount. Most likely these phones were repaired by Samsung or Apple, or a store like Best Buy. Sometimes though, you’re getting a brand new phone that was simply returned and can no longer be sold as “new”. Those are “open box” deals, which you can usually find at Amazon Renewed.
Best Place to Buy Used or Refurbished Phones
If you know what phone you want to buy and want the best deal, here are great places that sell used, refurbished, pre-owned or open-box Android phones, iPhones, iPads and more.
- Best Buy is a great place to start. They offer refurbished, open-box, unlocked, and pre-owned phones with big discounts. You’ll find almost every major carrier, manufacturer, and tons of accessories too. Everything comes with some sort of warranty, even if it’s only 90 days.
- Apple has a growing list of refurbished phones and devices they sell online. Apple charges more than most other sites, but you’re basically getting a phone that’s nearly new, and a 1-year warranty.
- Swappa is one of my favorite sites for used and refurbished phones. They’re dedicated to safely selling like-new products and have strict policies in place to protect both the buyer and the seller. Each device must pass a test that proves it’s not stolen or on a lease/payment plan, and other safeguards. Every purchase goes through PayPal for added protection.
- Samsung actually sells certified pre-owned phones just like Apple at steep discounts. Most of them are over a year old, but you get a phone rebuilt by Samsung, a new charger and headphones, and a standard Samsung 1-year warranty for peace of mind.
- Gazelle is another popular place to buy used smartphones. They buy phones from individuals, then inspect each one to ensure they work properly, and sometimes make small fixes. Then, sell some of the latest devices at steep discounts. You’ll only get a 30-day return policy though.
- Amazon Renewed is a relatively new place to shop but you can find great deals. With renewed, Amazon offers thousands of products that are returns, open-box items, or lightly refurbished. They come with Amazon’s return policy, and each product is inspected before being sold.
- eBay has tons of sellers with good feedback that will sell you a heavily discounted phone. And while you can find some pretty good deals here, there aren’t any guarantees like Gazelle or Swappa. A lot of them are used, too. Do your research on the seller before clicking any Buy it Now buttons.
- Your Carrier likely offers certified pre-owned phones. Head to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint and buy a used phone that you know will work on your carrier. They typically only sell their own phones, so you don’t have to worry about an AT&T phone not working on Verizon Wireless.
- Craigslist and LetGo are your last resort if we’re being honest. While yes, you can find some great deals, a lot of shady things happen around those parts too. From scams, stolen phones, locked devices, and much more. We recommend checking the IMEI to make sure it’s not lost or stolen before you buy any phone on CL, LetGo, OfferUp or similar apps. An ESN or IMEI is like a social security number for phones. Each one is unique, check it to make sure you’re not getting ripped off.
What to Look For (And What to Know)
There are a few things you’ll want to look for when you buy a used or refurbished phone. Whenever possible, always buy from the original manufacturer or a reputable store. It’s just a smart way to shop. If it’s a refurb see what kind of warranty is available, if any, or find a store that offers one.
Then, keep in mind that most used phones are probably already a year old, so things like battery life and software updates are different from a new phone. Or, they won’t get support as long. Don’t forget that most used phones are sold “as is” even if you don’t see it on the site. Basically, read the fine print.
Last but not least, use caution and some common sense when shopping for a used smartphone. Craigslist and Facebook group deals that look good are often misleading. Always pay in cash, and if the price is too good to be true, it’s probably stolen. That’s why we recommend reputable sites like Samsung, Apple, Swappa, or Gazelle first.
As long as you do your research and be smart, you can find the right phone for the right price.
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