A look at iPhone cash and exchange deals

Upgrading to a new iPhone 4 this week? Here are tips on places to recoup at least some of what you paid for your earlier model iPhone.

Erica Ogg Former Staff writer, CNET News
Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur.
Erica Ogg
4 min read

You may have heard there's a new iPhone hitting stores this week. If you're planning on buying one and still have your old iPhone, why not sell it?

There's a good chance you can recoup much of what you originally paid and put it toward the new iPhone 4. Individuals, resellers, and retailers are willing to pay for old iPhones, you just need to know where to look. 

The gadget resale market, especially for the iPhone, is hotter than ever right now. Consumer electronics reseller Gazelle.com said last week that 10,000 iPhones were sold to the site in the week following the iPhone 4's introduction on June 7--and that was 10 times the number of old iPhones sold to the site following the iPhone 3GS announcement a year ago.

Your best options for making money off your iPhone include the obvious places like eBay and Craigslist, but if you don't feel like doing the work yourself, gadget resellers will do most of it for you: they'll buy your phone from you and handle the reselling themselves. And this year, iPhone retailer RadioShack is offering an incentive to sell back your old phone.

iPhone on NextWorth
Gadget resellers will pay you for your old iPhone. NextWorth.com/Screenshot by Erica Ogg/CNET

Though most places will take any model iPhone with normal wear and tear, the later the model of iPhone you're selling, and the better the condition it is in will increase the resale value. And, of course, before you part with your phone, remember to wipe it of all your personal data.

Here are some of your best options:

Gazelle.com Gazelle will buy your old iPhone and pay you depending on the condition. It'll wipe the data for you as part of the service (though you should probably do it yourself just for peace of mind). You just answer a few questions about your phone's condition and which accessories you have, and it'll spit out a price and send you a box for shipping your phone. Last week a 32GB iPhone 3GS in good condition with normal wear and tear was worth $198.

NextWorth.com Like Gazelle, it'll buy your old iPhone provided it's in decent working shape. If it's close to new, with everything in working order, a 32GB iPhone 3GS will fetch as much as $300. For an iPhone 3G in good condition, NextWorth is offering more than $100.

RadioShack The consumer electronics retailer is offering perhaps the most efficient way of reselling your old iPhone and getting a new iPhone 4. For the first time, RadioShack has been included as one of the first retail outlets to get the iPhone on launch day. And it's sweetened the deal for potential customers by adding an extra incentive.

RadioShack will let you turn in your old iPhone for store credit toward the new one. The retailer says it will pay "up to $200" for an iPhone 3GS. Just bring it into the store and an employee will plug the device's specs and condition into their system and pay based on that recommendation. That value can be put toward a new iPhone 4 the same day or kept on a RadioShack gift card for future use.

cracked iphone
If your phone looks like this, you probably can't resell it. But be sure to check out electronics recycling centers. magerleagues' Flickr

Best Buy will also pay you for an old iPhone in good condition as long as you bought the phone through Best Buy and you have your original receipt.

Craigslist It's easy and free to list an old iPhone on the online classified listing site, so it's a natural choice. Craigslist allows you to choose from among potential buyers, and there's more room to haggle on a price. A quick perusal of San Francisco Bay Area Craigslist shows people willing to pay $200 to $250 for a 32GB iPhone 3GS. Just remember to insist on cash from buyers, and always meet the person in a public place when you do the exchange.

eBay eBay is a good choice for people who want an established system through which to offload their old goods. With eBay you get less chance of being scammed, and the option of auctioning your unwanted phone to buyers, potentially sending the price up higher. PayPal payments also help ensure you'll get your money, and eBay's buyer protection program will help you smooth out any conflicts with buyers and help you get paid.

There are more than 1,100 used iPhone 3GS 32GB models on sale on eBay as of late last week, so there will be some competition in attracting buyers. But the bids that are coming in are fairly high: One iPhone 3GS had 11 bids at $273.

If your phone isn't in good enough shape to resell or if you want to get rid of it, don't just toss it in the trash. You can go to the National Center for Electronics Recycling Web site to find an electronics recycler in your area.