Don\’t Trade It In! How to Sell Your Phone on eBay & Get More Money

by Reads (16,905)

Wipe the Device


Make sure that before you send the device to anyone, you clear all the information from it. Back it up to your computer and, at the very least, restore the device to factory settings. Take out any external storage in the device, and if you include an external storage card, make sure you format it so it is cleared of any data. Just deleting files will not remove them completely from those who know how to find them.

If you are still worried about any potentially sensitive data on your device, there are apps for iPhones and Androids that will write over files after a factory reset. Of course, very experienced hackers could still get some information that remains on the device forever, but chances are, you will be fine with these two steps. Another useful step would be to unregister the device from your Apple account, so that its new owner will not be able to get into your account in any way.

This step goes for giving up a device through any means, even if you donate it or sell it to an online retailer, do not leave it up to them to clear your data for you. A quick Google search will give you tips relevant to the device you are selling on how to clear data and ensure it is as secure as possible.

Accepting Payments

eBay plays best with PayPal, an easy to use (and free) service that lets buyers and sellers exchange payment securely without having to directly fork over a credit card or bank account number, something decidedly risky to give to an absolute stranger over the internet.

Setting up a PayPal account is quick and easy, and verifying a PayPal account can take a couple of days, but make sure to do this so that it will be easier to get payments. Verifying a PayPal account just links your bank account to your PayPal account, and PayPal will incur minimal charges (we’re talking a few cents) that it will refund within a few days. Once that is done, your eBay listing will go even smoother once it sells, since there will be no question that eBay will receive its seller payments. Paypal also takes a small percentage of payments you receive when items are sold.


eBay has a shipping calculator that will help you figure out how much to charge for shipping, and it can be adjusted based upon the buyer’s zip code. Take a few minutes before listing to package and weigh your item, just to be sure that you are calculating it correctly. Sellers can choose a few options to give buyers in terms of shipping, and the more options offered, the better the listing will do.


Free shipping obviously gives listings a leg up, and for a smartphone, which will be relatively small and lightweight to ship, it can be worth considering. Those filtering by free shipping will find your listing faster, and will be more likely to bid on it than one that has extra shipping costs. However, if you are planning on shipping overseas, it might be best to have the buyer pay shipping. That way you don’t get stuck paying a huge shipping fee, decreasing the amount you get from the sale.

If free shipping isn\’t cost effective for the device, then make sure to offer expedited or 1-day shipping. This way if buyers are looking to get the item ASAP, they can pay more to have fast shipping. Flat rate shipping is another great option for items that fit the bill, since there is less of a chance that you will miscalculate the cost of shipping, and wind up having to pay out of pocket for any additional fees.

Final Value Fees are reduced if the seller chooses free shipping, in the event that the buyer chooses a faster shipping method, the fee does not increase. This rule goes for all shipping options, so that the seller is only charged a Final Value Fee based on the cheapest shipping option offered.

Printing labels is easy and can be done directly from eBay, which also allows for a quick and easy way to update the item’s status with eBay, supply a tracking number, and ensure a package gets on its way in a timely manner. No matter how you choose to ship, get a tracking number; this can be entered into PayPal\’s system once the item is marked (by the seller) as shipped. This information feeds into eBay and can help get you the money faster and will give the buyer a way to track their package. Once the item has sold, be fast with shipping. eBay lets users select a handling time frame starting at day one. If you select a one day handling time frame, be sure to ship the item the same day the buyer pays. Doing so will also give you an automatic 5 star shipping rating for that listing.

Make sure when packing the device that it is safely packaged so that it will arrive at its destination undamaged. It may also be useful to ensure the item requires a signature upon arrival, especially with something as expensive as a smartphone, just to cover yourself if the buyer submits a claim stating they did not receive the item.

International Buyers

Shipping options let sellers choose if they would like to only open up sales to North America, however, eBay makes it simple to sell items worldwide, which opens up items to further exposure and potential buyers. International listings will appeal to those in other countries that want a device that might not be available where they live. Buyers might also be willing to bid a bit more than average for a smartphone they really want, but can’t easily get in their country.

Claiming Sales


For anyone concerned about reporting sales on taxes, you are not required to claim anything sold for less than you purchased it for. Also, the IRS considers hobby selling similar to having a garage sale; so anyone not planning on raking in profits through eBay sales shouldn’t have to worry. Listing a few items you have around the house here and there won’t matter when April 15 rolls around. However, it’s still important to hang onto any receipts or invoices, just in case.

eBay is a great resource for any specific questions or issues that may arise. There is also a user forum where sellers can go to ask other eBay sellers questions, which is useful, as there are plenty of veteran eBay users out there who can offer tips and advice.

It may seem daunting at first, but even if it seems like the item you wish to sell will not get bidders with all the other options out there, give it a shot anyway. Chances are, it will sell, and if it doesn’t, eBay generally lets users relist the item free of cost on eligible listings.

Read up on eBay’s site, and check out other listings. Maybe even try listing something worth a little less to get a handle on the process. Either way, it’s an easy to use system that can net you much more than the wireless carriers are going to offer you for your smartphone. It could even cover the cost of that shiny new device you just purchased.

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1 Comment

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  1. gtoland

    I’m shocked you missed a VERY important part of this entire process – Make sure you take pictures and otherwise record the IMEI and any other identifying numbers on the phone and battery. Maybe even list a portion of those numbers in your eBay ad.

    I had a friend scammed on Ebay. Sent phone (in perfectly good condition), they claimed it was broken. Ebay sided with scammer, so she refunded the money but the phone she got back was not hers. Without numbers, couldn’t prove it.