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Best cell phone trade-in options for iPhones and Android phones

Looking to get the best value for your old phone? Here are your best options.

Welcome to phone season! With new iPhones and new Pixel phones joining recent top-notch models like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, getting a new phone often means that you need to ditch the old one. And that's where the CNET 2019 directory of gadget trade-in providers comes in. We'll look at a few of the best trade-in options like ItsWorthMore and others where you can get top dollar for your devices.

Read more: Best places to sell your used electronics in 2019 

To evaluate the merchants on our list, we looked at a composite picture of each business. We ranked merchants based on our research into Better Business Bureau ratings, CNET staff reviews, online reputation among resellers and how easy or hard it is to get in touch with someone at each business, among other factors.

Every service is different, though, and their pricing changes by the day. They also assign values based on the condition of the device you're trading in, and even its color. That means you're going to have to shop around. Below our list of merchants is our basic FAQ of carriers, buyers and online marketplaces, too.

Amazon

  • Smartphones: Yes
  • Tablets: Yes
  • Laptops: Yes
  • iPods: Yes
  • Action cameras: Yes
  • Wearables: Yes
  • Other: Kindles, books, video, more

Not surprisingly for the king of online commerce, Amazon offers trade-in pricing for a large number of items, including books and videos. Because Amazon also has its own marketplace, you can also choose to list pretty much anything and expect to have a chance to sell it through Amazon.

We focused specifically on the Amazon Trade-in offering only. If you're not a regular Amazon customer, you might be disappointed to find that Amazon only pays in Amazon Gift Cards. For those of us who are dedicated Prime users, that's pretty much the same as cash, but you need to decide.

There's long been a rumor that Prime customers get better trade-in prices than non-Prime customers, but when we asked Amazon, we were told that everyone was treated equally. 

In terms of the mechanics of the trade-in, Amazon will send you a prepaid shipping label you can print out. Pack the device yourself in your own packaging (like an old Amazon box) and send it back. You should clear your phone of data, but Amazon will also do that for you. Make sure you don't dawdle when shipping your item. The quote time is valid only for seven days, and you should get paid in about 10 business days.

Apple

Angela Lang/CNET
  • Smartphones: Yes
  • Tablets: Yes

Apple offers two ways to trade in your iPhones and iPads. You can either walk into an Apple Store or use an online service run by Apple partner BrightStar. 

Either way, don't expect to trade in your iPhone and get money you can use to go out and buy that hot new Google Pixel 4 phone. Apple's trade-in services only give you Apple Gift Cards. If you're staying in the Apple ecosystem, this might work for you. If you're jumping ship or just need the money, you'll need to look to another alternative.

I liked the convenience of a walk-in trade-in, assuming you're near an Apple Store. If you go the online route, BrightStar will pay for your shipping. Pack the device yourself in your own packaging and send it back. You should clear your phone of data, but BrightStar will also do that for you. Quote time is valid only for 14 days, and you should get paid quite quickly, with the company promising two business days in most cases.

Like Amazon, going with Apple is a bit of a no-brainer, but only if you're OK with its limits: iPads and iPhones only, exchanged for Apple Gift Cards only. 

GadgetGone

Gadget Gone
  • Smartphones: iPhones only
  • Other: Contact merchant directly 

If you want to sell your iPhone (and only your iPhone) to a company with a fun tag line, GadgetGone is for you. The site has "Goodbye iPhone. Hello Moola" plastered on the front page, just in case you didn't understand what it does. It claims to take items other than iPhones, but its online estimator only works for iPhones. You have to email to find out what else it's interested in.

The company pays by check and PayPal, but also will pay you using a "printable echeck." While printable checks are a pretty standard practice for some businesses, you probably should ask your bank whether they'll accept a check printed out on your inkjet.

I like the company's "two days to payment" policy, but GadgetGone stumbles on its lack of security practices and price offer guarantees. It also provides no clear method for phone support, and offers almost no background on the company itself on its website. 

igotoffer

igotoffer
  • Smartphones: Yes
  • Tablets: Yes
  • Laptops: Yes
  • Wearables: Yes
  • Other: Macs

If you dig deep in its menu system, you will find Samsung and Google phones listed for trade-in at igotoffer, but this is mostly an Apple-branded trade-in shop. Not only does it make offers on Apple phones, but also on Mac Pros, Apple Displays and Apple TVs. 

That said, igotoffer doesn't let you know how long its offer quote is good for, and it doesn't specify whether it provides a security wipe on your data (you should do it anyway). There also appears to be no telephone support.

If you do want to trade in your iPhone, the company will email you a prepaid shipping label you can print out. That's workable, but I prefer the full shipping kit with a box designed to protect your device. igotoffer says it pays within three business days by check, PayPal or Amazon Gift Card.

It'sWorthMore

It'sworthmore
  • Smartphones: Yes
  • Tablets: Yes
  • Laptops: Yes
  • iPods: Yes
  • Wearables: Yes
  • Desktops: Yes

Most of what It'sWorthMore accepts are Apple products, but the company also lists Android devices and some other laptops and tablets.

The company provides a 14-day offer quote guarantee and a prepaid shipping label, and it pledges to pay within three business days. It also provides phone support.

It'sWorthMore pays by check and PayPal, but here's a kicker. If you ask for payment via PayPal, the company deducts 3% to cover its PayPal fees. It's a little too nickel-and-dime for our tastes and makes us wonder whether it'll be generous in its final payment determinations, or if it will be just a little too cheap. If you use this service, let us know how it did from quote to final payment in the comments below.

NextWorth

  • Smartphones: Yes
  • Tablets: Yes
  • Laptops: Yes
  • iPods: Yes
  • Action cameras: Yes
  • Wearables: Yes
  • Portable audio: Yes

We like that NextWorth takes in a wide variety of trade-in categories, including action cameras and wearables. It will even accept some portable audio devices.

The company does not send a shipping kit, but will let you download a prepaid shipping label you can print out. It also offers a security wipe and phone support.

Payment is available via either check or PayPal. NextWorth honors a generous 30-day offer quote time period. Payment ranges from 5 to 12 days, and the company does offer a limited number of walk-in locations in the US where you can make your sale.

YouRenew

YouRenew
  • Smartphones: Yes
  • Tablets: Yes
  • Laptops: Yes
  • iPods: Yes

YouRenew has a pretty sophisticated search option, which allows you to type in a make and model of something you want to trade in, and see if there's something there. While "play" didn't result in any PlayStation trade-in options, "kindle" brought up Kindle trade-in options, and "mini" brought up Mac Mini trade-in options.

YouRenew will send a prepaid shipping label to US-based sellers only, and pays by check. While the company didn't specify how long its quotes are valid for or how long it will take to get paid, YouRenew does accept bulk trade-in offers for those with many devices to clear out of inventory.

We were also happy to see that the company does offer a security wipe and a support phone number. 

Decluttr

decluttr
  • Smartphones:  Yes
  • Tablets: Yes
  • Laptops: Yes
  • Wearables: Yes
  • Other: Media, Lego, Games

If you want to get money for your clutter, Deculttr Is the place to bring your stuff. They take in many different smartphone models, some tablets, some Kindle models, game consoles and games, DVDs, CDs, Blu-rays and Lego products (Hey, don't knock the Lego. That stuff has a pretty high resale value, especially with full sets).

Although they don't provide a shipping kit, we liked how they suggested filling a box (they say any box will do) with up to 200 items and send it into decluttr.com. It's a great way to clear out a pile of gear and get some money back.

We don't like that the company doesn't clearly specify how long their price quotes are good for, and that it doesn't explicitly state that it wipes your technology on receipt. Instead, they have some FAQ entries about how you can do that yourself.

That said, the company does offer solid phone support and a great way to check the value of products before shipping, and free insurance on items you ship to them. 

What about Gazelle?

Gazelle has lived on this list for a long time, but after refining our review criteria, we've removed it. The change comes in light of an increased number of poor customer reviews and recent complaints to the BBB. We will continue to update this list over time.

FAQ: Carriers, buyers and online marketplaces

When looking for value from your old phone, there are four types of organizations you can work with: retailers, buyers, marketplaces and carriers. The characteristics of each are quite different:

Retailers: These are the brick-and-mortar stores in your neighborhood, ranging from Walmart and Target all the way to the remaining Radio Shack locations. In many cases, you can walk into the retailer, hand over your old phone and walk out with a new one, with a healthy discount applied. Many of these retailers won't just give you money for your old phone. They want the deal for your new business and give you a trade-in offer, so keep that in mind. Some also offer online trade-ins.

Carriers: These are the cellular service providers and almost all of them have some sort of mobile phone trade-in program, to encourage you to trade up to the next model and keep their service.  

Buyers: These folks want your phones and will give you money or credit for them. They generally won't force you to buy a new device from them (although expect some deal sweeteners if you go that way). Some of them will send you packaging to send your device back to them. This is the group we look at in this guide because they generally send you real money in return for your device, which means you're free to buy anything you want once you get your green.

Marketplaces: This option includes the classic resell methods like Craigslist and eBay, along with some specialty referral marketplaces like GlydeSwappa and Flipsy, which are built around the idea of trading in gadgets. Here, you're often dealing directly with individual buyers (or bulk buyers who are scooping up phones for other markets). Keep in mind that there is substantially more risk when selling to individuals than companies with known reputations.

Keep those concepts in mind as you look for the best deal for your device. 

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