You have an older phone that has served you well and works fine, but you’re ready for a change. That means you need to get rid of the old phone. Whether you have a new phone already or are looking for money to finance your upgrade, there are several buyback programs available that can help you get the device of your dreams.

In the phone buyback world, there are two basic places to turn: your phone’s manufacturer or your phone service provider. Many people know phone manufacturers by name and their strong reputations, but they actually get their smartphones through a cell carrier. For example, you may have an HTC One, but you got it through Sprint.

Two of the better buyback options are offered by Apple, notable electronics manufacturer, and Verizon, popular and reliable cell service provider. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can go either route to get money or credit for your phone. Depending on your particular circumstances, one option may work better for you than the other.

Apple Buyback vs. Verizon

Verizon offers Apple phones, and iPhones work well using Verizon as a carrier. You may have bought your phone directly from Apple, or you may have purchased it alongside a data plan with Verizon.

Regardless of which way you started, you can choose the ending of your adventure. Comparing Apple’s buyback plan to Verizon’s buyback plan can help you decide which route to take. 


Apple stores are all over the United States, and you can walk into one whenever you want to discuss their buyback programs for iPhones and iPads. You can also use an online service that Apple has partnered with, which covers shipping costs for you.

One option may work better than the other, depending on how close you are to your local Genius Bar. 

  • Price and value: Prices on any buyback can fluctuate based on how old your device is and if it has any damage. Since the company encourages you to stay in their system, they talk about pricing in terms of how much money will be taken off the cost of your next iPhone. 

    • iPhone 8: turning this in to upgrade to an XR means you spend $19.99 per month instead of $30.99 per month, or you spend $479 upfront rather than $729 upfront
    • iPhone 6S Plus: You spend $22.99 per month or $549 total rather than $33.99 per month or $799 total

For more information about the direct value of your phone, Apple’s website or in-person customer service representatives can quote you a price after you answer a few simple questions. 

  • Ease of use: Anyone with an iPhone or iPad — or even iPod or MacBook — can use Apple’s famous service centers all over the country to trade in their device. If you live near one of these, that is very convenient. However, if you have to go with an online Apple retailer, you have to do some work yourself instead of just handing over your phone.

  • Rules and restrictions: Apple does not give you money for your phone. Instead, they give you Apple Gift Cards, which you can apply to any other Apple device of your choosing. If you are a longtime fan of this company’s innovative products, this works well for you. However, if you wanted to get a different type of phone or just walk away with money in your wallet, working with Apple directly is not the best solution.
    If you use a licensed Apple dealer online, you must package the phone carefully, so it is not damaged in transit. You must also turn the phone around in 14 days, or your price quote expires.
    Many of these programs will completely wipe your phone’s data for safety. You may have to factory reset, but you do not have to worry about the security of information on your device. These companies will pay you for your phone rather than requiring you to use Apple Gift Cards.

  • Damaged phones: There is no information on Apple’s trade-in page about damaged phones, but these will have a lower value. You may find better value using a different buyback program if you have a cracked screen, scratched case, or non-working headphone jack.


If you already have Verizon service, you can take this opportunity to trade in your old iPhone for an upgrade to a new iPhone. You can also get the equivalent of store credit if you’re considering a different model phone.

You can go into a Verizon store, which is simple since so many are all over the country, or you can go through an online process to mail your phone to a Verizon service center. 

  • Price and value: Verizon gives you credit directly for the value of your phone. For example, trading in an iPhone XR means you get an estimated buyback value of $438; an iPhone XS might get you as much as $660; and sending back an iPhone XS Max means you can get up to $670. You can use this money toward the price of an upgrade.

  • Ease of use: If you choose the online buyback option, Verizon sends you a special box with prepaid postage. You can then track the status of your package as it makes its way to a nearby service center. Once it has been checked, you will receive your Verizon buyback credit.

  • Rules and restrictions: You must be an existing Verizon customer to use their buyback program. You cannot have an iPhone or another popular model like a Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy, and trade this in from a different carrier. While Verizon takes new customers all the time, the process of trading in a phone from a different carrier is different and requires more steps.
    You also may not get your store credit all at once. Instead, if you choose to pay off your new iPhone over two years, the buyback credit will be automatically applied every month. This is not the same as cash in hand, although it can reduce your bill.

  • Damaged phones: Verizon’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) state nothing about damage, except to the battery. If the battery in your iPhone is hot or swelling when you package it to trade, you must remove the battery before shipping the device. On newer iPhones, this can damage the device further, so you may not get the original credit estimate.

Buyback Programs Are Not Right for Everyone

Ultimately, both Apple and Verizon’s buyback programs are simple and generous if you agree to stay with their products and services. If you want to change phone carrier plans or get a different model of phone, you’re out of luck.

Other routes can give you cash back for your devices even if they are damaged. This means you not only have money that you can apply to your next phone upgrade, but you can also sell old devices that are taking up space in junk drawers or filing cabinets, which you haven’t used in years.