In America, 130 million phones are disposed of annually. That’s a big strain on the environment, but it doesn’t need to be. If you’ve got one or two phones languishing in a cupboard somewhere, you’ll want to know how to get rid of them.

Never put your phone in with the other garbage. Even if you don’t take the monetary value into account, it’s still bad for the environment. The phones are not biodegradable, so they’re just clogging the landfill (forever).

Need more convincing? What if we told you that you were throwing money away? Then that phone’s worth saving, isn’t it?

In this post, we’ll deal with how you can sell your phone for cash or have it recycled.

What can I realistically expect?

There’s no simple answer here. The value depends on what condition the phone is in, whether the model is in demand or not, and a host of other factors.

You can get a basic idea by following these tips:

  • Use an online comparison site like BankMyCell: This should be your first step as this site will help you figure out what your phone is worth. BankMyCell will give you several values. These include the phone trade-in value and at what price you could sell old phones.
  • The Phone Value Calculator from eBay: This tool will give you an idea of how much similar models have sold for.
  • Your carrier: If you want a cell phone trade-in, find out from your carrier how much they’ll give you on a cell phone buyback.
  • Check prices online: Look for the same make and model or see what cell phone recycling for cash is available.

How You Can Sell Your Phone

Trade-in Your Phone for Cash at a Retailer

There are retail stores that will buy phones for cash. We’d advise looking at a few different places in order to find the best offer. You could get more if you sold the phone yourself, but this way is the most convenient.

They check the phone, make you an offer, and pay you out. It’s that easy.

Best Buy

The store offers fair rates for cellular devices. The downside is that the phone must be in good condition.

Game Stop

Hand in your phone, and you’ll get a store credit. This can be applied to anything in store.

Trade Your Phone in Online

These services can offer better prices than retailers because their expenses are lower. It’s not as convenient as stopping in at the store, but it’s still a good option.

You’ll complete some details on the site. Then get an estimated value. From there, you’ll have to mail the phone in.

The site will confirm the value and make an offer. If you accept it, they’ll pay you out. If not, they’ll return your phone.

  • BankMyCell: This is a good place to start. It draws information from different sources to find you the best deal. You can then choose the one that appeals to you the most.
  • Amazon: Amazon has an online program. You won’t get cash, but an Amazon gift card instead.
  • Gazelle: This site has been here forever—they’re well-established and trustworthy. Unfortunately, they’re not known for paying top dollar. Still, it’s easier than finding a buyer yourself.

Selling Your Phone Online

To get the best possible price, you can sell the phone yourself. There are plenty of online sales sites that you can choose. You’ll have to decide whether the extra effort is worth it or not.

You also need to accept that it might take longer to sell.

  • Craigslist: This is a good online classified site. Be careful about sharing too many personal details and never hand the phone over before you see the money. Scammers love Craigslist.
  • eBay: eBay will handle all the payments, and administration. It also gives you access to a larger marketplace. You will have to pay a commission on the sale and competition on the site is tough.

Where to Recycle Your Old Phone

There are a lot of companies that will recycle phones. Charities also often offer this service to raise funds. You won’t get much, especially if the phone is broken.

  • EcoATM: This makes recycling simple. Register on their site or app, and you’ll get a quote on the value. Then take the phone in and let them check it out—they’ll give you cash.
  • Apple: This service is for Apple users only. Speak to someone at your local iStore about how much you can get for your device. You’ll be able to get a gift card, not cash.
  • Your Carrier Store: Again, you’re bound to get store credit rather than cash. It’s a convenient option, though.
  • Electronics Shops: Small family-owned businesses and big chains may offer this service.
  • Check with your local municipality: Speak to someone at your local municipality and find out if they have a program for recycling.

Donating Your Phone

Maybe you don’t need the money. That’s great, but we’ll bet that there’s a charitable organization nearby that will. As a bonus, you can also claim a deduction on your taxes for the donation.

Where Can I Donate My Cell Phone?

Check with your local charities and churches to see if they need it. Otherwise, here are some options:

  • Secure the Call: They collect working phones for redistribution to those who need them. They help the homeless, the abused, and law enforcement officers.
  • Medic Mobile: Your phone will find a new home, making it easier for healthcare workers in remote areas to provide better medical services.
  • Cell Phones for Soldiers: This helps soldiers on active duty to communicate with their families.

Consider Repurposing Your Phone

If your phone is in good shape and you want to hang on to it, make it useful. You could:

  • Use it as a smart hub for appliances in the home.
  • Download a VOIP and save money on calls.
  • Use it to rig a nanny cam or baby monitor.
  • Create a universal remote for your media center.
  • Use it for gaming.

Common Questions

What benefit is there to recycle your phone?

Imagine the impact of 130 million cell phones a year ending up in the landfill. Recycling might not earn you money, but it could earn you lots of ‘green’ points.

If all those phones were recycled instead of tossed, you’d save enough electricity to power the homes of 24 000 people for a whole year. You’d also be reducing the number of rare metals being needed to be mined.

Miners often work in appalling conditions and get paid peanuts. It’s also damaging to the environment.

Is there really gold in the phone?

Yes, there is. It’s not going to be enough to retire on, though. An iPhone, for example, has just 0.034 grams in total of gold. There are also other metals used, like palladium and platinum. These metals can be stripped out and reused.

What is going to be recycled?

Most components can be recycled from the glass of the screen to the rare metals inside.

What will happen to my old phone?

This is dependent on the shape your phone’s in and what model it is.

If it’s only a couple of years old, and still working, it’s going to be refurbished. In this case, the phone is cleaned up and fixed. It ends up working like new.

If the model is a bit older, but still in good condition, it’ll probably also be refurbished. In this case, though, the phone will probably make its way to developing countries. It will be resold in areas like Russia, where newer tech is difficult to come by.

If your phone can’t be fixed up for resale, it will be stripped down. Usable parts will be sold on. The rest will go for recycling.

What’s my best option for getting rid of my phone?

That’s going to depend on what you’re looking for. Selling it puts cash in your pocket. Donating it helps you earn good karma.

Either way, though, the phone is going to be recycled. So, no matter what option you choose, you’re doing a good thing.

My phone no longer works – is it worth anything?

It may be, but not necessarily to you. Some services will offer you a bit of money, even if it’s not working. Generally, though, it’s not going to be much. In this case, we’d say it might be worth donating it instead.

Which recycling bin does it go into?

You’re probably not going to be able to dump it with your normal recycling. Stripping the phones takes specialist skills. Dealing with batteries can be problematic. As a result, we advise using a specialist recycler.

Summary

Your old phone might not boast all the latest features, but it’s still valuable. Sell it on if it’s in good condition. Donate it or send it in for recycling if it isn’t.

Just don’t leave it sitting in the drawer, taking up space. That’s wasteful on so many levels.