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Sell your old cell phone, trade up to iPhone

February 9, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Verizon's new iPhone goes on sale in stores on Thursday at 7 a.m., and like the AT&T iPhone, it's expected to become a monster hit. If you want to trade your cell phone for an iPhone or another smart phone, you may be able to get cash by selling your phone.

The market for used cell phones is exploding. Some used phones sell for a few bucks, while others go for more than $500.

Many cell phone users, like Jeremie Braun of L.A.'s Mid-City area, are always on the lookout for the newest phones with the fastest and latest 4G technology.

"Constantly want the best and the quickest and the fastest and the smallest gadget these days," Braun said.

Braun was looking to upgrade his iPhone 3G for the more advanced 4G model. He walked into a Target store and sold his old phone on the spot for $125.

Target is among a growing list of brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers that buy back phones for a price depending on the model, features and condition.

Target offers customers store credit on the spot for used phones. The retailer has teamed up with NextWorth, a company that buys and sells old electronics.

You can also send your phone directly to the company. By answering a few questions about your phone online, NextWorth will tell you instantly how much your used phone is worth, and the company will pay you by check or deposit funds into a PayPal account.

There are several other online sites that pay cash for used cell phones, including Sellyourcell.com and Gazelle.com .

Gazelle will pay up to $241 for a Droid X with no noticeable flaws, a dollar more for a Blackberry Bold and up $120 for an iPhone 3.

If you upgrade your old phone, you may have to pay your carrier an early termination fee or an activation fee for a new phone. But you may be able to sell your used phone for even more than the cost of those fees.

"The old models are pretty heavily subsidized by the carriers. Today, people can trade in their 32-gigabyte 3GS iPhone for about $200, which covers the cost of the $200 new phone with two-year activation plan," said David Chen of NextWorth.

You can also sell your phone back to select Best Buy stores for a store gift card, provided you purchased the device from Best Buy. A two-year-old phone can fetch about 20 percent of its original price. Newer phones are worth up to 50 percent.

Right now, eBay is running a cell phone buyback promotion until Feb. 22. You can get instant cash from $200 for a Samsung Galaxy Vibrant, to more than $500 for a 32-gigabyte iPhone 4 in excellent condition.

Or you can list your used phone for sale on eBay or Craigslist, where there is a brisk market for used - especially unlocked - cell phones that can be used on any compatible network.

Before you sell your old cell phone, make sure to check with your carrier to see what, if any, charges you'll have to pay for early termination or activation of a new phone.