What To Do With Your Old Phone When You Upgrade

What To Do With Old Phone

I’m very lucky that I get to test out many different mobile devices. I’m the dork who usually has 3 phones with me. Not because I’m so important, but because I want to use the new phones like you’d use them. But most people aren’t like that and when they upgrade to a new phone the old one ends up getting kicked to the curb.

I don’t know anyone who’d just throw an old phone away. Even if the screen was cracked or it wouldn’t hold a charge or can’t power on, few people would ever think to toss a phone in the trash or recycle bin. And that’s good because mobile phones – whether smartphones or not – contain chemicals that can harm the environment if not disposed of properly. That’s why I’m here to give you options on what you can do with your old phone.


1. Keep It – This is kind of an easy option if your device still works. Since all mobile devices have to be able to call 911 they’re great to just have on hand for a true emergency. Naturally you’d want to keep it powered up, although in reality it may end up stashed in the back of a drawer. Old smartphones without cell service will work on WiFi so you can still use it to get on the internet at home, when you travel, or at shops around town that offer free WiFi. It’s a great way to have something for the kids to play their games on while not having to hand over your device. Old phones also make great jukeboxes or a place to store your workout playlist. That way you can exercise and not get interrupted with texts or calls.

2. Give It To Someone In The Family – Maybe the kids need a phone. Or you’re trying to get your parents to ditch their 1992 flip phone for a “real” phone. If it’s just a year or so old, the technology is still relatively up to date and the device may still even be for sale with your carrier. Rather than buying a new device, hand-me-down devices are a great way to introduce new technology or upgrade older devices. Many carriers will allow you to add an additional line for a nominal fee or even provide pre-paid SIM cards so you don’t have to add a new line.

3. Sell It – Many people often think this is their main option. With new devices often costing several hundred dollars, it makes sense to want to off-set the cost by selling your old device. There are many options available for selling mobile devices – Craigslist, Ebay, Gazelle, uSell, Swappa, Glyde, – and they all have their pros and cons. I’ve sold several mobile phones over the years but I don’t do it any more. I’ve found that even though most are relatively hassle-free, for me it’s not the best option.

4. Trade Up – Some carriers will allow you to trade-in to upgrade. If you want to get out of a phone and get the newest device, check with your carrier to see if they have a trade-in option. Many do, but only for certain devices. Carriers may also allow you to trade up devices when you switch, too. This comes in handy when you’re out of contract and want to leave your current carrier but don’t want to have to shell out for a new device.

5. Donate or Recycle Your Phone – Donating old cell phones is easier than ever these days, and there are many different causes. Sometimes you can just drop them off at any carrier’s store and they’ll refurbish the ones that can be fixed and then provide them to the charity they support or, if they’re not able to refurbish them the devices are recycled properly. Many grocery and office supply stores have donation/recycle stations. Usually they’re combined because some phones people want to donate may not be suitable for donation so they’re recycled. I’ve donated several devices to Hopeline over the past few years, even though Verizon was not my primary carrier. I’ve had a Verizon account for over 10 years and I liked the goal of proving cell phones to domestic abuse survivors so that’s why I’d donate to Hopeline. While donations made to Verizon’s Hopeline are not tax-deductible, if that’s something you need check with the charities you support and find out if they accept donations of old phones.

So there you have it – several great options for what to do when you upgrade your old phone and get a new one. Each comes with pros and cons but I’m sure there’s one that will work for you. And just because you choose one way this time doesn’t mean you always have to do the same thing. Options! And who doesn’t like options.

What have you done with your old phones?


Author: Sara

Sara is a life-long dreamer, creating a list of things she wants to do "someday". Realizing there is no "someday" on the calendar she's taking the steps to make her somedays a reality. Between saving for retirement and college and paying for all the usual things, many women find that they're often putting their hopes and dreams on hold. Saving For Someday is Sara's way of encouraging women everywhere to find ways to save on the ordinary so they can do the extraordinary. Sara is also a licensed attorney and writes about legal issues affecting bloggers, content creators and online professionals. This blog is for informational purposes only. You can also find me on Google+

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