Buy An IPhone
On The Cheap

The new iPhones 5c and 5s are a bit expensive, especially if you don't qualify for an upgrade yet. But that doesn't mean you have to pay full price! We'll show you how to use your old phone to trade your way to the hottest new commodity.

Trade or sell your iPhone 4s for an iPhone 5s

Many electronics stores, online vendors and carriers now offer trade-in deals, which makes it easier to upgrade to a new phone. Whether you're looking for a new-model iPhone or just want to upgrade to the older 4s, your existing phone is the key to a better deal.

Trading in your phone

Many retailers have trade-in programs. Most of the trade-in options don't require you to trade in an old iPhone to qualify for credit toward an iPhone. But most do require that the device be working and show no signs of water damage. The amount you'll get depends on the model you're trading in and the condition of the phone, including whether you have the accessories it came with (charger cables, earbuds, etc.). You may even get more money for having the box!

Before you go, use a microfiber cloth to gently clean your old device to ensure no residue is mistaken for a scratch or flaw. Make sure it's fully charged so they can check that it works and (if possible) help you transfer your data to your new phone. If your phone isn't in working condition, you should still inquire about a trade-in. Often, phones that can be fixed are worth at least something.

Before you leave the store, ask to see your old phone one last time to perform a data wipe and remove the SIM card to ensure all your personal information is gone. They'll probably tell you they'll do it for you, but once you leave the store, you don't really know what happens.

Selling your phone

There are also many retailers that purchase your old equipment and give you a check or give you store credit. This option may mean you have to pay for your new phone initially, but it could get you more money in the long run.

Before you send your phone in, wipe your phone according to the manufacturer's instructions. You may also want to remove your SIM card if applicable.

Things to consider

No one solution is "the best." Look at every option you have available before deciding. A rash decision can cost you money. Most of these retailers have online calculators that let you estimate the amount they'll give you. But beware: It may be less if they appraise your phone at lower value than you do. Also, check the fine print to make sure they're willing to send it back if you're not happy with their valuation.

Also remember that your old iPhone will go down in value quickly, so check how long the price you get is good for.

We put together a list of places that can give you money toward the purchase of a new iPhone.

Apple

  • Get up to $280 of in-store credit or money toward a new phone.
  • Sell your phone, iPad or Mac or PC computer to their recycling program in exchange for a gift card for fair-market value.

Carrier trade-in programs

  • Trade-in pricing varies by carrier.
  • You must stay with that carrier (you'll be locked into a new two-year contract and won't be able to switch without significant penalties).

Gazelle

  • Sell any device (including an old cell phone, tablet, iPod or Mac computer) and they'll send you a check.
  • Price lock in place until Oct. 31, 2013.

RadioShack

  • RadioShack allows you to trade in an old phone of any kind toward a new iPhone.
  • Up to $250 on a 16GB iPhone 5.
  • They only take phones from carriers they sell.

Amazon

  • Trade your phone in for an Amazon gift card for up to $314.75.
  • Price lock in place until Oct. 31, 2013.
  • You can also sell your phone directly on Amazon.

eBay

  • Sell your phone directly to a buyer on eBay's My Gadgets program.

Walmart

  • Get between $50 and $300 for any working smartphone.

Other

  • NextWorth, Target, Best Buy, GameStop

More iPhone 5s and 5c news

Do you really need an iPhone 5s if you upgrade to iOS7?
7 Ways the iPhone 5s could be better
iPhone 5c vs. 5s: Which is right for you?

Photo credit: Apple

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