I can say I’ve sold my fair share of used cell phones. I have a day job, and flip phones on the side when I have the time. Yes, you can probably make some decent money if you dedicate the time and effort doing this full-time. However, having the security of a paycheck from a day job is nice.
I receive many emails every week from readers with all sorts of questions from asking about a specific listing on Ebay or to some of the techniques I use to get a good price on Craigslist. I also have received messages from a few people that struggle to find the time to flip phones on the side and have asked for advice.
The truth is, you can go on a binge buying and selling phones to make some quick cash. However, you will have to put in the time emailing, driving around, and upfront money.
I was very busy at the end of 2014 going into the new year and hadn’t spent much time flipping phones. Towards the end of January I decided I was going to try to make some quick cash. I figured I would devote all my time and energy in a weekend in return for a nice payoff.
I created a spreadsheet with a list of phones I was going to target. My list was mainly iPhones since they are easiest to flip, but had a few Samsung Galaxy’s on it. In another column, I put the price of what I think I could sell each phone for based on research from Movaluate and Ebay. In the next column I put the highest price I would buy each phone for which was $50 less than fair market value.
So now I have a spreadsheet with phone models, what I could sell them for, and what I would buy them for. That’s the easy part. The next thing to do is buy the phones. I spent all of Saturday and Sunday searching Craigslist and Ebay for as many deals I could find. For all of the phones I found on Craigslist, I would try to get the phone for $100 less than market value. This required a few techniques and a lot of back and forth emails. Most of the phones I negotiated to a price closer to $50-$75 less than market price. I also spent several hours in between emails running around town inspecting and buying phones. I found several listings that had terrible presentation (no pictures or details), and I was able to negotiate a great price simply because they didn’t have many other people contacting them. It also helped to let the buyer know I could be there to pickup the phone within the hour. At the same time, I followed several auctions that were ending soon on Ebay and placed bids on anything I thought I could get under fair market value.
Throughout the entire weekend, I sent a total of 148 emails and placed 38 bids on Ebay. By the end of the weekend this lead to a total of 11 phones I bought using Craigslist and 4 I won from Ebay. I bought all of the phones used, but in great condition. This cost a lot of cash up front. The average cost per phone was $298. Fronting almost 4,500 was risky but I was confident I could resell them at a higher price. I put the 4 Ebay phones on my credit card and paid cash for the phones from Craigslist. Unfortunately I would have to wait for the Ebay phones to be delivered before I could resell them. I resold all of the phones on Craigslist at higher price in a week. The Craigslist phones I sold right away, and the Ebay phones I listed a week later and turned them fairly quickly. The average profit per phone was $72 for a total of $1,080. The trick is to have great presentation and not to budge too much on your selling price. I used very details descriptions with pictures and listed every phone just above market price. Besides my time, the only other cost was half a tank of gas driving around to pickup phones from Craigslist sellers.
Anybody can do this. It can be done at a larger or smaller scale. If you don’t have the money up front, start with just one phone and work your way up. If you do your research on fair market value for each phone, you can eliminate most of your risk because you will have a good idea what you can resell for. Also, I sold all of my phones on Craigslist which eliminated the fees I would have encountered if I sold on Ebay.
The hustle here that is going to annoy you is constantly trying to get Craigslist sellers to meet your offer. Your are going to get a lot of people that won’t respond at all or will tell you to fuck off. That is why it took me 148 emails to get only 11 people to sell to me at the price I offered. I’ll admit, it was pretty exhausting buying so many phones at once, but it’s not something I do often so the extra $1,000 in my pocket was worth it.