Want a new iPhone? Here's how and where to sell or trade your current model

The new Apple iPhones will be announced tomorrow, with the price of the high-end model likely topping more than $1,000. You can sell your current one to offset some of the cost or even trade it in.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

What to expect from Apple's iPhone event

The Apple iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and special iPhone X will be announced tomorrow. If you want one of these new iPhones, get your plan together to sell or trade your existing iPhone now before the new ones hit the street.

In the past, I always purchased the iPhone outright and then sold it on Swappa since the iPhone holds its value more than any other smartphone and I could justify the yearly $200 loss in value.

Today, there are even more options available, thanks to Apple, wireless carriers, direct purchase companies, and more. Let's look at what we have available in late 2017.

Apple iPhone Upgrade Program

I personally switch phones often due to my ZDNet writing, so I wasn't much of a fan of the iPhone Upgrade Program (IUP) that launched in September 2015. If you are an iPhone user who wants the new iPhone each year though, it is the most convenient option and ZDNet's David Gewirtz provided all the details on how to use it after being a member for a year. It also includes the Apple protection plan, so it is the best deal for most iPhone fans.

In order to upgrade, you're required to have made 12 months of payments on your current device. So, depending on when you bought your last iPhone and joined the IUP, you may have to wait or pay more to upgrade. The rumors indicate the high-end 10th anniversary special iPhone, possibly the iPhone X, might be released later and have limited availability with a price possibly in the $1,200 range. You lease your iPhone with this program, so the payments will adjust according to the price of the phone.

Wireless carrier upgrade programs

Some US wireless carriers offer upgrade programs, such as T-Mobile's Jump on Demand, AT&T Next, and Sprint iPhone Forever. These programs are similar to Apple's, with each being a lease program where you trade in the old model on a yearly or every two-year cycle.

T-Mobile's new Jump On Demand program actually lets you switch phones every 30 days if you like, so you can get a new iPhone, then switch to an Android phone, and jump back to another new iPhone.

Pricing for these upgrade programs is dependent on the value of the iPhone that you purchase. If you cancel service or opt out of the program, you have to pay the balance on the phone. Additional fees are usually not charged for these lease upgrade programs, but they also do not include the Apple protection plan by default, so consider adding that coverage if you tend to drop your phone.

As an alternative to these lease upgrade programs, US wireless carriers also sometimes offer "free" iPhones with a trade-in. I did that last year with T-Mobile, but be aware that credits are often applied over an extended period of time, and you have to spend a lot of time reviewing your monthly bill to make sure credits are applied. In the end, the Apple Upgrade Program is probably the best option for convenience and utility.

Sell or trade your iPhone to an online or retail location

There are several online companies who buy old phones, and many years ago, I sold a lot of my old phones to Gazelle. ecoATM Gazelle continues to purchase iPhones, and from Sept. 5 until Sept. 22, you can lock in your price and Gazelle will give you until Oct. 22 to mail in your old iPhone. This should help ensure that your new iPhone arrives before you have to get rid of your old one.

You can send in your old iPhone to Gazelle or find one of its ecoATM kiosks to get cash right away. It is likely you could get a lot more selling your iPhone yourself, but there is time and some risk associated with that method. For example, my iPhone 7 Plus 128GB model is worth only $360 with Gazelle, but trends at about $600 on Swappa today.

Local retail stores, such as Best Buy and GameStop, also offer trade-in programs for smartphones. T-Mobile phones are not accepted at Best Buy, but a 128GB iPhone 7 Plus is currently worth $325 in good condition. That value is provided to you as a Best Buy gift card, which is a common strategy for these trade-in companies.

Sell your iPhone yourself

As I mentioned, I usually sell my old phones on Swappa and always experience fast sales with every single one turning out to be valid. The listing and selling fees are low compared to eBay, and most people buying on Swappa are tec- savvy buyers. Swappa also offers charts showing values over tim,e which are useful for pricing your iPhone competitively. You can even purchase protection plans on Swappa when you buy a new phone. Check out Swappa's iPhone selling page to find your model and get started.

iPhone 8: Everything you need to know

Flipsy offers a price history chart and a private party value, similar to Kelly Blue Book for cars. The website also shows you some of the other online buyer values, including Gazelle.

If you don't want to use Swappa, you can also sell your old iPhone on eBay or Craigslist. eBay fees are usually higher than Swappa and also have PayPal fees on top of them. If you use Craigslist to sell to a local buyer, make sure to meet the buyer in a public place with lots of people around so you can make a safe sale. Also, be careful with the monetary transaction of hundreds of dollars between strangers.

You may get more money for your iPhone if it is unlocked, so try getting it unlocked from your carrier before you sell it. Verizon iPhones are always unlocked out of the box.

Similar to backing up your iPhone before you upgrade the OS, you should also back up your old iPhone, turn off Find My iPhone, and perform a hard reset before trading in or selling your current iPhone.


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