Sometimes you don’t want the latest or greatest.  Sometimes you want a good deal and sometimes you might need a replacement device ASAP due to complications with the toilet or a flight of stairs.

Today I will be sharing the best places to buy used phones and what you should be considering before making the purchase.

So you’re in the hunt for a used phone.  Great!  Welcome to the club!  I’m always on the hunt for a great deal on a secondhand device.

Before diving right in and possibly regretting your purchase, you first will want to do your research.

Make sure you are up-to-date on the current price for the device you want to buy.  With two-year contracts on the way out, no longer will subsidized prices be meaningful when looking for a used phone.

What I mean is that when phones were subsidized due to two-year contracts with carriers, you were able to get the device for a relatively “cheaper” price.  So instead of paying $600 for that Samsung, you would pay $150.  A lot of sellers take advantage of this and make a serious profit.

Now with device payment plans and companies like Motorola driving the full retail price down on new phones, it might be easier and safer to just buy a new device straight from the carrier or manufacturer themselves.

Still need a used phone though?  Here are the top few places to get one.

Swappa is probably the best place that I know to grab a used phone.

Not only are they reasonably priced, the staff at Swappa want to make sure every sale goes through with ease.

The first device I bought on Swappa was an LG G2.  Even though I had a few technical difficulties on my end with PayPal and the bank, the Swappa crew made sure both parties were taken care of.  It’s always great to know you are communicating with real people.

What separates Swappa from the other options is that you know exactly what you are buying.  There aren’t any hidden agendas.  One party wants to sell their used phone, one party wants to buy that used phone, and one party wants be the middleman so that the other two don’t get screwed over.

Swappa requires that sellers include high-quality pictures of the device being sold along with some way to confirm that it actually works.  If the seller provides enough detail then their incredibly active moderating staff will approve the listing.

Here is what your typical listing looks like on Swappa for a used phone.

Swappa listing

(Click to make bigger)

As you can see, the seller was approved by a moderator for taking enough pictures and describing the iPhone with a good amount of detail.

You can also see that there is a bit of haggling going on between potential buyers and the seller.  This is probably my favorite aspect of Swappa because you might get an even better deal than expected!  I have to admit I do like the thrill of bartering too.

Swappa is THE used phone community for commerce.


Next on the list is eBay.  It is the first place where most of us would look for a used phone because we don’t know where else TO look.

Ebay has been around since 1995 and revolutionized how people buy and sell used products.  This is what eBay is known for and why it comes in second on the list.  Because it has been around for such a long time, eBay has a ton of used devices to choose from.  Numbers are eBay’s strength.

You can find just about anything you want on eBay.  If you want a particular used phone in a certain color, it’ll most likely be there.

There are also different ways to win that used phone.  There are auction listings where you have to bid.  There are Buy it Now listings where you just pay the price and leave.  There are Best Offer listings where you can negotiate with the seller.  It is nice that there are multiple ways to get what you want.

Much like Swappa, the transaction process is relatively simple.  You can use PayPal to purchase and even get expedited shipping.

Now eBay comes with some concerns though.

First is that usually prices tend to be higher.  A reason for this is that there are fees for selling and the seller is trying to recoup as much as possible.

Another reason is that sellers know buyers are more willing to spend a little more to get their item quicker and easier.  More of a convenience fee.

The other major concern is that you don’t necessarily know if you are getting a functional device.  You have to rely on feedback ratings and your gut instincts which can be a little nerve-wracking.

ebay used phone listing

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Returning a broken device can also be a hassle too because it is your word against the sellers against the shipping company and resolutions can take a while to get solved.

I have never had a problem purchasing used phones on eBay, but it does happen to others.  You just have to make sure that you are researching the buyer and the item beforehand.  It is a little extra work.


Not many people know that you can buy a used phone on Amazon.  It’s kind of neat actually.  They have the gold standard for shipping and customer service.  It would seem crazy to not buy through Amazon.

Finding your used phone can be kind of weird.  Even if you select “used” in the sidebar, the results still show the “new” price first.  You’ll need to choose the used price at the bottom of the listing.

Amazon phone search

The used phone list is a bit intimidating because a good number of the sellers don’t have pictures to show the device you are trying to buy.  Now to be fair, these sellers are businesses and not people.  Those who are people tend to show off several pictures and describe the item with ample detail.

A benefit of using Amazon though is that some used listings actually have Prime shipping available!  If you’re someone who is spoiled with one-day shipping like I am, this is very enticing.

used phone amazon

Prime shipping is available for a used phone

An Amazon used phone listing

An Amazon used phone listing

Another alluring reason to use Amazon is that they have certified refurbished devices and open-box deals at Amazon Warehouse (technically used).  If you are unsure about buying from a random person online, this is the option for you.

Overall Amazon is a decent alternative to eBay and Swappa, but doesn’t seem like it has as many used phone choices.


Last on the list is Craigslist.  Yeah it can be sketchy at times, but other times you can have a great experience getting a used phone.

This is actually how I got started buying and selling phones online.  For whatever reason it seemed like the easiest way of doing it.

You find a listing that seems like a good deal.  You ask more about the used phone by email.  You meet up and pay cash for your newly…used…phone.

The best deals are on Craigslist because it seems like more sellers just want to get rid of their used phone so they can get quick cash.  Haggling is encouraged!

A typical Craigslist listing…be careful out there!

I’ve bought the original Droid Incredible, the original Droid RAZR, a Galaxy Nexus, and an HTC Windows Phone 8X all on Craigslist.  Never anything wrong with the devices…or the people I met to acquire them.

The concerns of Craigslist are as follows:

You have to meet a stranger in a mutual location.  Choose a public place like Dunkin Donuts or Walmart like I have.  It makes it more comforting for both parties.  Most people in the world are good people.

You are paying with cash.  This means you are potentially up a creek with no paddle if they lied to you about the condition.  Cheques are usually never accepted for obvious reasons.  You can try to use PayPal, but from personal experience a lot of people don’t want to deal with it.

You are paying with cash.  You might potentially be walking around with several hundred dollars in your pocket.  Be safe.  Ask to check the device over in person first then go to a nearby ATM to withdraw your funds.

If you stay safe and smart you have the potential to get a great deal, especially if you chat the person up during the meet up.  I’ve had $75 taken off of the price because I had a nice conversation with the seller.

Overall Craigslist would be my last option, but I wouldn’t count it out during the research period.


There are a few other options for buying a used phone.  Newegg is one that offers refurbished devices.  Glyde is another option, but doesn’t seem to show pictures of the device you are buying.  Surprisingly Facebook is another option.  College class groups on Facebook are an interesting way of finding used phones.  Kind of like Craigslist, but with the possibility that you will either know the person selling it or you have a friend that does.

So those are the top four places to find a used phone.  If you need a quick replacement, try Amazon for its Prime shipping.  If you want to pretend like you’re on Pawn Stars and really work a good deal in person, try out Craigslist.  Want a ton of choices for finding and buying a used phone?  Go with eBay.  If you are looking for piece of mind because you want a fully-functioning device with great customer support?  Swappa is where it’s at.

Is there a site I forgot to mention?  Something you don’t agree with?  Need help with your own used phone purchase?  Let me know in the comments below!


Recent Penn State grad who loves all things mobile. Has a knack for teaching and enjoys a bit of alliteration.

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