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Can I Sell My Carrier Unlocked Phone? shows you how to sell your carrier unlocked phone!

Wondering if you can sell your carrier unlocked phone? You absolutely can, but there are nuances to the unlocked phone market you need to know so you can get a great deal. Here, clears the confusion and shows you how to get the most money for your carrier unlocked phone.


  • Which type of unlocked phone do I have?
  • How to sell your unlocked phone.
  • How to prepare your phone for sale.
  • How to get the most money for your unlocked phone.
  • What if my phone isn’t unlocked?
  • How to unlock your phone.

Which type of unlocked phone do I have?

It’s helpful to know which type of unlocked phone you have before you sell it, since values can differ depending on the nature of your phone unlock. Here’s a rundown of each:

Factory unlocked phones

These phones are sold unlocked at retail, so you’re free to use them with any compatible network and carrier. They’re typically the most valuable unlocked phones, since they do not include any carrier bloatware.

Carrier unlocked phones

These are phones that were formerly locked to a specific carrier, and have since been unlocked. They’re typically worth almost as much as factory unlocked phones, but can be marginally less valuable due to carrier bloatware. In addition, phones that only work with CDMA networks (and not GSM networks) can be less valuable.

This category includes phones unlocked from major carriers like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile as well as phones unlocked from prepaid carriers like U.S. Cellular, Cricket, Boost Mobile, Republic Wireless, and others. Note that prepaid phones are almost always more valuable unlocked.

Worldwide unlocked phones

Third-party phone unlocking services might use the “worldwide” method, which is unreliable because phones unlocked in this manner can later be relocked, according to Buyback Boss CEO Jack Wight. Relocks can be triggered when you update the software, reset the phone, or simply connect to iTunes on an iPhone. For this reason, worldwide unlocked phones can be considerably less-valuable than carrier unlocked and factory unlocked phones.

As previously mentioned, you should also know whether your phone operates on CDMA networks, GSM networks, or both. To do this, you can check specs for your specific model on a site like GSM Arena or call your carrier directly.

How to sell your unlocked phone

Once you know what type of unlocked phone you have, you can proceed with selling it. If your phone isn’t unlocked, you can find links to unlocking instructions for several carriers below.

How to prepare your phone for sale

The preparation process for selling an unlocked phone is identical to that of any other phone.

Be sure to:

  • Deactivate security features like Find My iPhone and Activation Lock
  • Erase all data from your device
  • Remove your SIM card and microSD card

How to get the most money for your unlocked phone

The key to commanding top dollar for your unlocked phone lies in knowing where to sell it.

Your options include:

The private market

Craigslist, Ebay, Facebook Marketplace, and other peer-to-peer classifieds sites constitute the private market. The private market will typically pay more than other options, but there is no guarantee of sale and negotiating and meeting with buyers can be inconvenient.

You can use, the “blue book of cell phones,” to view private market values for just about any unlocked phone.

Here are some examples of private market values for three popular unlocked phone models (as of 12/7/2016):

Check out these site-specific tips for getting the most money when selling on the private market:

Carrier and manufacturer trade-in

Apple and all four major carriers offer trade-in programs. However, only Apple lists “unlocked” as an option, and will pay up to $200 via gift card for an iPhone 6.

Carrier and manufacturer trade-in programs typically pay less than the private market and other trade-in companies; and they pay out in credit, not cash. If not delivered via gift card, that credit can take up to three months to be applied to your bill.


You can sell your unlocked phone at an ecoATM kiosk. ecoATM tends to pay less than other options, but it does offer instant cash.

Here are some example ecoATM payouts for unlocked phones:

  • iPhone 6: $80
  • Galaxy S5: $35

Trade-in companies

Trade-in companies pay more than all other options except the private market. They offer fast, guaranteed sales, free shipping labels or complete shipping kits, and typically pay in your choice of cash or credit.

Use to instantly compare offers from dozens of trust-verified trade-in companies.

Here are some example trade-in company offers for unlocked phones:

PhonePrivate marketCarrier/manufacturer trade-inecoATM kioskTrade-in companies
iPhone 6 unlocked 16GB space gray$299 cash$200 credit$80 cash$230 cash
Galaxy S5 unlocked 16GB charcoal black$127 cashn/a$35 cash$98 cash
HTC One M9 unlocked gunmetal$176 cashn/an/a$135 cash

To recap: the private market will net you the most cash, but also comes with the most hassles: sales can be slow or not happen at all, and you’ll have to negotiate and meet with the buyer. Trade-in companies offer more cash than the remaining options and offer a more convenient process with guaranteed sales.

A note about unlocked phone values displays trade-in values for factory unlocked phones. If you have a carrier unlocked phone, prepaid carrier unlocked phone, or worldwide unlocked phone, you should contact buyers directly for a valuation.

This is because carrier bloatware, CDMA/GSM network compatibility, and other factors can alter the price. Plus, different buyers can have different pricing policies, according to MobileFlyp representative Chase MacClelland. Often, the values will be similar so you can still use to get a general idea of what your unlocked phone is worth, but you will need to verify those values with the buyers before you sell your phone.

What if my phone isn’t unlocked?

Unlocked phones are generally more valuable than their locked counterparts, so it’s worth considering getting your phone unlocked before you sell it. This is especially true for prepaid phones, which piggyback on major networks by leasing space via Mobile Virtual Operators (MVNOs). MVNOs can be problematic for sellers because when network traffic is high, the networks defer to their primary customers – which can cause service issues for prepaid phones.

The result? Prepaid phones that are locked to their respective MVNOs can be viewed as less valuable than their major carrier-networked counterparts.

For example, a Samsung Galaxy 4 (16GB black mist) locked to Cricket can be sold for $8 to $10. However, that same phone on the AT&T network is worth $58 to $76 – more than seven times the value.

So how can you get more money for your prepaid phone? By unlocking it. When you unlock your prepaid phone, it can be used on any compatible CDMA or GSM network. Unlock that Cricket phone, and it now becomes compatible with AT&T – and will command a higher price.

This strategy isn’t restricted to prepaid phones, either. Use to compare trade-in and private market values for your phone model, both locked to your current carrier and unlocked, to see if you can make more by unlocking your phone.

How to unlock your phone

Each carrier has its own policy and procedure for unlocking phones. Follow these links to find unlocking policies and directions for your phone:

Boost Mobile
Republic Wireless
Straight Talk
U.S. Cellular

Don’t see your carrier here? Run a search for “[YOUR PREPAID PHONE COMPANY] unlock” to find out how to unlock your phone. If you’re unable to unlock your phone, don’t worry – you can still sell it!

Unlocked phones can be easy to sell because they can be switched between carriers, and that often makes them more valuable. Whether you want to sell your unlocked phone to trade-in companies, on the private market, or to another type of buyer, use to find out what it’s worth so you can get the best deal.




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