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How to sell your cellphone online: We evaluated 10 options so you don’t have to

Did Apple’s recent product launch event convince you that you want a new iPhone, but you aren’t sure how you’re going to pay for it? Consider selling your old phone. The best sites to sell a cellphone will either buy your phone outright or help you sell it directly to someone. A late-model smartphone can command hundreds of dollars, dramatically offsetting the cost of getting a new device.

However, the amount you’ll receive and the ease of selling a used smartphone vary based on the device you’re selling and the site you use to market it. If the phone is “locked” — usable only with a specific wireless carrier — that can also affect the price.

Which are the best sites to use? SideHusl’s editors took a look at 10 options. This is what we found.

Selling directly

It’s no surprise that if you sell directly to a consumer, you’re likely to get more money than if you sell to a wholesaler. After all, wholesalers need to turn around and resell the phone for a profit. When you sell directly, there’s no middleman to take a cut.

The downside to selling direct, of course, is there’s no guarantee that you’ll get your listing price. And you have to spend the time to find a buyer, negotiate terms, ship the phone and collect payment. That said, a SideHusl analysis indicates that you could get $100 more for a late-model cellphone by selling directly. Even if the process takes an extra four hours, that’s a pretty decent return on your time.

All-purpose direct-to-consumer sales sites, such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, are good places to start. Since neither site charges a fee to list items for sale, there is no downside to posting your phone.

You’d do well to require cash payment when selling on these sites. Craigslist in particular is known for being a target for scammers who try to pay sellers with bogus checks.

Didn’t get a good offer on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace? Try listing your phone on an electronics-only site such as Swappa. Swappa allows you to list for free. However, the site will add a $10 to $15 site fee to the sales price. Thus when you list a phone for $400, the buyer is charged $415. That extra $15 goes to Swappa.

Because the site specializes in electronics, all buyers are in the market for what you’re selling. That boosts the chance that you’ll find a buyer. Swappa says most late-model cellphones sell within hours of listing.

Sellers will probably get a better deal here than with reseller sites too. When we tested a variety of recent-model cellphones, we found sales prices that were $75 to $150 higher than purchase offers on other sites. The differential for older phones was somewhat less — $50 to $75.

Selling to a reseller

The vast majority of sites that buy cellphones are wholesalers, which aim to resell your phone elsewhere and make a profit. Dozens of sites like this compete for your used electronics.

These sites focus on the most popular brands. If you have an iPhone or a Samsung, you’ll have plenty of sites to choose from. If you have a less popular device, such as a Google Pixel, there are fewer resale choices.

Price-comparison sites: Two sites — Flipsy and SellCell — purport to find the best price for any cellphone by connecting you with offers from dozens of wholesale sites. However, their offers don’t always match the offers made directly through those same wholesale sites, nor did these comparison-shopping sites always present the best offer for the phone.

For instance, Flipsy says GreenBuyback would pay the most — $176 — for a Samsung Galaxy S5E with 128 gigabytes of memory. However, you could get $190 for the same phone by selling it directly through The Whiz Cells. SellCell’s best offer for the phone was just $5.

If you were selling an iPhone XR, both sites offered competitive quotes: $325 to $330. However, neither Flipsy nor SellCell guarantee that you’ll receive the bid price.

Almost all resellers reserve the right to revise their offers when they receive your phone. If the phone shows more wear than you reported, they can reduce the price they pay — often dramatically. Shopping comparison sites take no responsibility for your dissatisfaction when that happens. And some of the sites that they list are notorious for bait-and-switch tactics.

It’s smart to take copious photographs of your device and check the buyer’s reputation before sending your phone. Also make sure the purchaser will return your phone, at their expense, if you don’t like the revised offer.

Best reseller sites: While it takes a bit more time, comparing prices on your own at a handful of top-rated phone resale sites can get you a good deal with less risk of a rescinded offer. The top-rated phone reseller sites on SideHusl.com are The Whiz Cells, MaxBack and ItsWorthMore.

Their ratings are the result of paying the highest prices for sample phones, getting a preponderance of good customer reviews and having few complaints about surprise repricing. Gazelle, which once ranked among the best sites, was downgraded last week because of recent consumer complaints. Not only does Gazelle rarely offer the best prices anymore, but users also say the site is quick to cut its purchase offers when the phones are sent in.

How much can you get?

How much should you expect for your used cellphone? If you were selling an iPhone XR in excellent condition with 128 GB of memory, you’d get $300 at The Whiz Cells, $288 at MaxBack or $260 at ItsWorthMore.

For the same phone in poor condition — working but with a broken screen, for instance — ItsWorthMore would pay the most: $135. MaxBack would pay $130. The Whiz Cells offered just $40.

BuyBackWorld promised up to $325 for a phone in good condition — more than the other sites. However, users complain that the site is extremely slow to process phones and often drastically reduces the price once the device is sent in.

Meanwhile, a Samsung Note 9 would bring in $50 to $334, depending on the condition and the site. As was almost always the case, Swappa promised the best price, while The Whiz Cells, MaxBack and ItsWorthMore were competitive with one another at about $200 for pristine phones and considerably less for flawed ones.

Kristof is the editor of SideHusl.com, an independent site that reviews hundreds of money-making opportunities in the gig economy.

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