5 ways to turn your old iPhone into money

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iphone back
Your old iPhone is far from worthless.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

If the rumor mill has it right, new iPhones are right around the corner. But that doesn’t mean you should relegate your current model to the junk drawer once you trade up: You can turn your old iPhone into money in one of several ways.

In fact, you should probably do it soon because prices for used iPhones will drop once the iPhone 6s gets unveiled next week.

Trade it in for a discounted upgrade

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Trade in your current iPhone to save money on a newer device.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Thanks to the shift toward paying for smartphones in monthly installments, it’s easier to trade in the phone you own and get credit toward a new one.

This is particularly easy if you’re on specialized plans like T-Mobile Jump, which makes device trade-in a requirement to receive a new one.

Trading in also works for AT&T Next subscribers (after they’ve paid 12 monthly installments) and for those with Sprint’s new iPhone Forever plan, which grants you a new iPhone for $15 per month after trading in your old one.

No, you won’t get an actual pile of cash for your old device this way, but at least you don’t have to pay full retail upfront for your new iPhone.

Trade it in for cash

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Cashing in your old iPhone means you won’t need to track down a buyer.
Photo: Pictures of Money/Flickr CC

A number of terrific services will take your old iPhone and give you money with almost zero hassle on your part. These services typically pay a bit less than if you were to sell the device yourself, but require far less effort.

I’ve used Gazelle in the past and it works beautifully. The service sends you a box; you plop in your phone and ship it back for free. After inspection, you get the price Gazelle quoted you when you signed up.

At the time of writing, Gazelle offered me $260 for my 64GB iPhone 6. uSell, a similar service, offered me $332.

Sell it yourself

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Sell stuff that you don’t find value in because someone else might.
Photo: Cult of Mac

This is the most obvious option on this list. A little more work is involved when you cut out the middleman, but chances are you’ll get the most money by selling your old iPhone yourself.

Luckily, you don’t have to spam your friends on Facebook or deal with local flakes on Craigslist. Sell your old phone on websites like Amazon or eBay to get a solid bang for your buck.

My personal preference is selling old items through the Fulfilled by Amazon service. You ship the product directly to Amazon, then they handle the rest when a buyer latches on. The service evens provides customers with Prime shipping, which lets you one-up other sellers. Note that Amazon takes a small percentage of money from the sale this way, so weigh the price of convenience.

Recycling: The other ‘green’

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Apple will recycle your old gadgets free of charge.
Photo: Apple

Apple runs a recycling program for old iPhones and other gadgets — even old PCs. Just fill out some information about your device, ship it off to Apple using a prepaid shipping label, and Apple will recycle it for free.

Better yet, you’ll get an Apple Store Gift Card loaded with the estimated fair market value of your device. Plus, with the Apple Store app now supporting gift cards, it just got a little more convenient to make your next purchase.

Donate it to charity

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Your old iPhone could land in the hands of an active-duty soldier.
Photo: U.S. Department of Defense Current Photos/Flickr CC

Several great organizations accept used cell phones as donations. Some are even built around that concept. One example is American Cell Phone Drive, which turns your phone’s value into cash that you can donate to one of more than 4,000 participating charitable organizations. Another option: Cell Phones for Soldiers, a great nonprofit that gives military members and veterans means of communication.