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Cash In Your Old Mobile Phone

Updated on May 21, 2015

Most people are moderately green minded. The idea of recycling tweaks our minds, we feel good when we post our paper, glass and plastic into the right colour bin. But if I gave you £20 a month to just throw it in the you 95% of people would. So what has this to do with your old mobile phone? Quite simply, while it may be often billed as "recycling" your old mobile, there is solid cash to be made selling your old mobile online, especially on models only a year or two old.

Most people on a contract in the UK get a phone "upgrade" every 18 to 24 months, with 24 months becoming unfortunately all too common. In reality, it's not an upgrade per se. You still get a new phone but to be honest you might as well head in town to a phone shop and see what's available.

Are you burning value on your old mobile?
Are you burning value on your old mobile?

Initial Offers...

So where does that leave you? Sure you have a shiny new phone, but probably a £30 a month contract that's now 6 months longer than last time. That's £180 more you're locked into and just try ending one of those early!

When I went in for my last contract, I had to do a fair amount of haggling, play acting and downright lying to walk out with a top model phone and an 18 month contract and not pay a penny above the contract price I wanted.

So while I felt quite good about that, I almost fell into the trap of handing over my old mobile. The oh-so-casually offered "by the way, we can give you £45 cash for your old phone (and since you have your nice shiny new toy, do you really need it....?)". I almost said yes and only because I wanted something I could play music on while in the shower (yes I sing in the shower and yes, the steam is likely to wreck the mobile sooner or later) did I say no.

Offerings for my (very old) Nokia 5800 xm
Offerings for my (very old) Nokia 5800 xm

The Online World of Cash!

When I got home I curiously went online to find out what it was worth on ebay only to discover, to my shock, there were websites offering to buy that model phone (in working order) for over £90.

TWICE what the phone shop had offered for it. Shower or no shower, that was too much to turn down for something I wasn't going to really use again. Ebay was going to be a pain, plus was only a few quid over that so I signed up.

Three days later, an envelope arrive, prepaid, I popped the phone into it and posted in in a postbox. I had an online tracker which showed me when they received it, when they processed it, when they checked it and finally after about two weeks, when they posted me a cheque.

It cost me nothing beyond the phone and gave me a nice little cheque. Sure I took a risk, it might have been a hassle from start to finish, it might have taken months, they could have quibbled about the condition of the phone, but it came good and I would thoroughly recommend the process.

Where and How Much?

The where is quite simple, there are probably close to 50 different sites offering to buy mobiles. Comparison sites are quite useful here. They are relatively thorough, provide price and user rating for the sites as well as payment methods and can save you heaps of time trying to input your mobile type into each buying site one by one.

It is however imperative you use more than one of these sites as they can easily churn out different offers. Also, the same site may not offer the best deal all the time so its well worth checking around even if you have done this before.

Orange buys phones!
Orange buys phones!

Of note, Orange buys used mobile phones. As they are a big, well known brand name in the UK you may feel more comfortable going with them even if they offer a little less than some of the others.

Half the game is figuring out which sites are the least hassle for the most cash return. When I last sold mine, I didn't go for the top price as the terms and conditions specified immaculate cosmetic appearance. That kind of wording was too much of a get out clause. They lure you in with a price, then lower it because you haven't quite met the T&Cs!


The how much will depend on the model and condition of your phone. The best is obviously new, the second best and most common is used but in working condition and third is the broken phone.

Some of the sites take broken mobiles but will offer you substantially less than the same phone in a working condition. If you feel you can get more, take a look at ebay. I was pleasantly surprised that the prices being offered were competitive to the private sellers market.

As an example, at the time of writing a working Iphone 3G 16gb is worth about £86 at the top price and between £60 and £120 on Ebay. Take note, you must be absolutely clear what the precise model of phone in, for instance, the Iphone 3GS 16gb is worth about £107. This means there is a difference of £21 over putting an "S" into the search engine!

The Gamble

Be warned, this isn't an exact science and some of these sites are bound to be slippery customers. They may quibble about the price, claiming your description doesn't match the phone condition. When you tell them where to shove their new (lower) offer, they may then charge to send the phone back. Many of the sites recommend sending the phone recorded mail rather than the free version to ensure it gets there. They may also be tardy with payment. Fortunately none of these things happened to me, but there is an element of risk involved!

you probably won't get quite this much...
you probably won't get quite this much...

Taking the Plunge

So take that old mobile and go turn it into a nice bit of pocket money!


  • Check the price
  • Check the consumer reputation
  • Check the payment method
  • Check The T&Cs!!!


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    • gmmurgirl profile image

      Gei Moore 6 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks. I hope they have these sites here in my country too.