Need money for an old phone? Local stores and kiosks are the safest bet, but not necessarily the most profitable
Flipsy.com is a website that offers services such as 'blue-booking' for older phones should the user wish to sell them on. It has published a report on new research in the used-device market in 2019. This data was gathered on second-hand sales of these devices through local or online marketplaces (including Swappa, Craigslist, eBay, OfferUp, LetGo and Facebook Marketplace); online buyback stores (such as Gazelle, Mazuma or Eco-Cell or other companies that send pre-paid envelopes for devices whose value is then quoted back to the seller); in-store kiosks (such as ecoATM); in-store buybacks (for example, Best Buy has such a program) or carrier buyback programs (possibly dependent on carrier or location).
This research indicates that the best way to unload an old phone is (somewhat unsurprisingly) local or online marketplaces - in terms of potential monetary gain, that is. On the other hand, these options are linked to drawbacks, most notably fraud and seller fees that cut into the final pay-out. Flipsy also found that online buyback stores are associated with the most convenience in selling devices. Carriers were comparable in this regard, although they typically offer store credit rather than cash.
However, in terms of certainty in getting at least some money for the device, buyback stores and kiosks were deemed the best option. These avenues may also offer the quickest pay-outs, although this obviously depends on their availability to the seller in question. Therefore, this report concluded that the marketplaces were the most potentially lucrative, yet also the most risky, method of selling a second-hand phone in 2019. On the other hand, online buy-back stores struck the best balance between risk, resale price and convenience.