How to sell your used Cell Phone on Craigslist – Case Study

In my previous guides, you probably read about how I prefer to sell phones on Craigslist to Ebay. It’s about time I wrote a walk-through of my exact Craigslist selling process from start to finish. In early November, Verizon Wireless notified me that I was eligible to upgrade to a new phone at a subsidized rate. The storage was full on my iPhone 4s 32gb so I decided to upgrade to the iPhone 6 64 gb.

Of course I could have taken the easy road and sent my phone in to Gazelle, but they were offering only $71 for my phone. Craigslist and Ebay are more profitable websites to use, but they require more work. For me, the extra cash is worth the extra work. Ebay has selling, PayPal, and shipping fees so Craigslist is my tool of choice. I live in a metropolitan area of the country where there is a lot of people in a condensed area. These are the best locations to sell on Craigslist. If you live in the middle of nowhere, you’ll probably have better luck with Ebay since you’re not limited to a local exchange like you are on Craigslist.


After I bought my new iPhone, I transferred all of the data with iTunes. Then, I turned off Find My iPhone on my old phone, and erased all content and settings. It’s very important you wipe your phone clean and restore it to the factory settings so the new user doesn’t have access to your private information. Additionally, you want to make sure the phone is ready for them to activate. They won’t be able to activate an iPhone if it is still linked to your account.

I always use a Casecrown case on my every cell phone so that it remains in excellent condition when I sell it. I took the case off and cleaned out the dust from all of the corners with a cue tip. I used a compressed air duster to clean the charging and headphones ports.  Over time, these two openings may build up some dust. It’s important to sell your phone in great looking condition. This way the pictures will sell itself.

The last step is to gather all the original items your phone came with. If you sell the phone with the box, instructions, charger, and any other accessories, it will be worth more to a buyer. For an extra bonus, never open your earphones that come with a new cell phone if you have another pair you can use. This way you can advertise the earphones as brand new, which is much more preferred over a set that has seen some time in someone else’s ears.

Listing a Phone on Craigslist – Make a Great First Impression

Head over to to setup your listing and choose your location from the homepage. Choose Post To Classifieds > For Sale By Owner > Cell Phones By Owner > Location That Fits Best. Enter your email address in the top two lines. Don’t worry, interested buyers won’t be able to see your address. However it’s important you use your real email address because Craigslist will relay through an anonymous email all messages that you receive from interested buyers.

I do not recommend adding your phone number, but if you prefer to, you have the option.  Keep in mind that if you add your phone number, it will be publically displayed on your for sale listing. Add a posting title. Be as descriptive as possible. For my listing, I wrote “Apple iPhone 4S 32GB Black Verizon Unlocked – Like New”. You may have noticed that I described my phone as unlocked. Before I got a new phone, I called Verizon and asked them to unlock it for worldwide use. This is a free service and can be completed in just a few minutes. This increased the value of the phone because it allows a buyer to use the phone on other wireless networks with a SIM card. The title is the most important part about your listing because it will be the first thing buyers will see when searching for a phone. You want your title to stand out from all the other sellers out there. It’s kind of like making a first impression when meeting someone for the first time.

Next you’ll have to choose a price to sell your phone for. When selling on Craigslist you will always receive lower offers. That is why I always list the price a bit higher than I would accept. However, I always try to get my original asking price. I searched my phone model on Movaluate and it said that my phone’s used value was between $135 and $154 as of November 8th. This is based off of the condition of my phone, which I selected as excellent. I was confident I could get more that what it was worth because it was in great condition and I would be posting a great listing with detailed high quality pictures. I listed the phone for $160.

iPhone 4s Movaluate


Next, you’ll have to enter a specific location. Because you are posting this in a city area, you should use this box to enter the exact town you are in. This makes it easer for buyers to decide if they are interested based on how far of a travel it is to your town. Buyers in the next town over will be more interested than buyers on the other side of the city.

The posting body is where you are going to actually lock in interest from your buyers. Here is what I wrote for mine:

“I am selling a black Apple iPhone 4s 32GB for Verizon Wireless in excellent condition. The phone looks like it just came out of the box. It has always been used with a case. No scratches, cracks, or blemishes on screen or phone back and it works perfectly, ready for activation. The battery life is great and this phone has never frozen or skipped a beat! I am the original owner and have taken meticulous care of the phone.

The phone is loaded with iOS 8.1. Verizon has unlocked this phone for me so it can be used with other services overseas.

I have all the original contents of the phone including the box, charger, and never opened earphones.

Additionally, if you are interested, I will include the matte Casecrown case.

Cash and local pickup only. I am located 2 blocks away form the train station.”

As you can see, I included a lot of detail about the quality and care of the phone.

Next you can add your address which will show buyers your approximate location on a map. This is an added visual to help buyers. After you click continue at the bottom of the page, you will be able to add pictures to help support your description of the phone. Take high quality pictures with many angles of the phone and everything that is included with the sale. I usually take picture of all accessories, as well as the phone turned on so the buyers can see it works. I highly recommend including pictures. Some buyers will filter out any listings that don’t have pictures when searching for phones. See my pictures below as an example.

iPhone 4S Craigslist

iPhone 4s Craigslist


After you upload your pictures, submit your listing and it will get uploaded to Craigslist’s website. However, you’re not done yet! Craigslist will send you an email and you will have to confirm this listing before it is posted to the public. So open that email, and click to post it.

Interested Buyers

You’ll probably receive several emails from interested buyers. Some will offer you less. I received 15 emails from interested buyers in the 2 days after I posted the listing. The goal is to sell the phone as soon as possible at the highest price. Here are the 3 types of emails in order of the most that I received and how I responded.

1.     Will you take $120? – For all the lowball offers, I simply deleted them. These buyers are not going to come up to your asking price so there isn’t any point in wasting your time responding.

2.     I can pay you $150 and pick it up tonight. – I would certainty take $150 as it was the lowest price I would accept, but was still confident I could get it for $160. For these times of emails, I responded and said I have someone coming later in the week that would pay the full price of $160, but if they could match that and pick it up tonight I would sell it to them.

3.     Can I pick this up later this week? – These emails didn’t mention price, so it seemed they would be open to the original asking price of $160. I scheduled times later this week for them to pick it up in case I couldn’t work something out immediately.


It turned out that one of the guys from email type #2 came over the following night and agreed to pay the full price of $160 to lock in the deal. When meeting someone from Craigslist, always meet in a public location that you feel safe in. For example, a bank or fast food store are good places. As the seller, I always choose a place close to my location. I chose to meet in the lobby of my apartment building which has frequent foot traffic as well as a security desk. The buyer showed up, checked out the phone and we made the exchange. Afterwards, I cancelled all of the meetups I arranged with the other people later in the week. I sold my 3 year old iPhone for $160, not too bad considering I paid $200 for it form Verizon when I originally bought it back then.

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