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Step-By-Step Guide: How to Make Money Flipping Phones for Profit

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Most people have no idea what to do with their old cell phones, especially when their contract runs out, the phone is damaged, or they upgrade to a newer version.

Experts estimate over 150 million phones are thrown away each year. This is not only a hefty financial cost for people trying to stay current with the latest phone model, but it comes at an environmental cost in the form of e-waste.

What this means is, in carelessly disposing of slightly worn phones, people are throwing away money with them. Many people don’t realize they can sell their used cell phones and make back a little of the money they spent in the first place. In addition, by selling used phones, people can avoid contributing to electronic landfills.

This is especially good news for cell phone buyers who plan to flip used phones for money. With some effort, information and skill, used phones can be purchased, refurbished and resold for profit.

Sellers win by earning some cash for their old phones, buyers win if they’re able to refurbish and resell the phones they purchase, and the environment wins with less e-waste.

What Does Flipping Phones Mean?

Essentially, when someone “flips” something, they buy an item at a discounted or lower cost, repair or improve the item, and then sell it for a higher price. The profit margin of flipping can vary depending on the value of the item and the market for buying it.

Flipping phones means someone purchases a broken, damaged, or non-working phone at a reduced cost, compared to a brand-new one. The person then repairs or refurbishes the phone, and then “flips” it (sells it) for a higher price to make a profit.

Repairing or refurbishing a cell phone might seem intimidating due to the complex technology of such devices. However, some used phones need little to no actual repair at all.

Others might just need a screen fixed or some polish for wear and tear. There are several websites that offer advice and tutorials for how to self-repair cell phones based on the manufacturer and model.

Most consumers wouldn’t go through the trouble of trying to fix a cell phone themselves. However, those who are willing to put in a little effort to learn common cell phone repairs can benefit from this information and apply it to used phones in order to resell them for profit.

Can You Make Money Flipping Phones?

You can make money flipping phones. It takes some skill, knowledge, and effort but the potential is there to earn extra income.

Experts estimate committed and savvy individuals can make between $1,000-$2,000 per month by flipping phones. This is based on a level of dedication to the process, skill in repairs, and some luck with buyers.

Here are some quick tips for successful phone flipping:

  • Do research—become knowledgeable regarding which phones can generate profit
  • Understand the market—be aware of the best sites to buy previously owned phones and the best sites for selling refurbished ones
  • Be prepared—know what skills are required for repairing damaged phones
  • Keep track of profit—assess the time, energy, and cost involved in the flipping process compared to the profit generated
  • Stay safe—be sure to take all safety precautions when making transactions as both a buyer and seller

How to Make Money Flipping Phones for Profit

By following the tips mentioned above, most people find it quite simple to make money by flipping phones for profit. The cell phone business is a huge industry, and many cell phone users are gravitating towards buying previously owned phones rather than pay outrageous prices for the newest models.

Those who are dedicated to doing their research, understanding the market, developing repair skills, and concentrating on profit can generate a healthy income by flipping cell phones.

1. How to Buy Phones

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace is an online, social media vehicle for selling items to local buyers. Sellers follow a procedure in listing/posting what the item is, creating a good description, and then uploading photos. Available items, including phones, can be seen by local buyers who can access Facebook Marketplace.

Both sellers and buyers must adhere to Marketplace’s commerce policies. In addition, Facebook Marketplace and other sites provide useful tips for buying and selling, including measures for safe transactions.

One of the potentially positive aspects of Facebook Marketplace is the idea that sellers would be more visible to Facebook “friends” than strangers trolling the site. This isn’t exactly how Marketplace operates, but there does seem to be more accountability between buyers and sellers due to the Facebook profile links.

This benefits phone buyers, as they can more easily detect scammers by checking out the seller’s profile. In addition, phone flippers can view pictures of the phone as well as a description, and even message the seller to get further information.

Amazon Marketplace

Amazon Marketplace is a way for third-party sellers to access Amazon’s customer base through an e-commerce platform.

Sellers can use this marketplace operated by Amazon to sell used or new products. When it comes to cell phones, the seller’s requirements are strict and carefully regulated. As a means of protecting their reputation, Amazon requires refurbished cell phones be warranted and contain all original parts.

For some flippers, these requirements might be too strict for selling. However, in terms of buying used cell phones, this is an excellent site due to the regulations and protections offered to the buyer.

Craigslist

Craigslist is another vehicle for selling personally owned items to people in a local area. Sellers can submit a free post, which works like an advertisement for the item(s) they intend to sell.

The seller provides a description and pictures of the items. Buyers can contact the seller through verified email address if they’re interested in purchasing what’s advertised.

There are several tutorials and guides on YouTube for smart and effective ways to buy items on Craigslist, including cell phones. Experts don’t recommend selling or purchasing high value items on this site. People who wish to buy phones from Craigslist to flip should look for detailed descriptions, good pictures, and a sense of honesty from the seller.

Since Craigslist buyers and sellers are local, it’s important to practice safety. Experts recommend meeting in safe, public places to exchange items such as phones for cash. The Craigslist website has recommended safety guidelines.

eBay

Another online commerce site for buying cell phones is eBay. Unlike Craigslist and other internet marketplaces, eBay transactions are conducted primarily through PayPal and items are shipped from seller to buyer – local or not.

In addition, eBay offers an “auction” system for some purchases, in which the price is not fixed but instead goes to the highest bidder.

Buyers can often get good deals through eBay auctions, particularly on electronics and cell phones. In addition, eBay indicates a seller’s rating which can give a buyer a sense of their experience and reputation.

One drawback for eBay buyers is the need to depend on the description and pictures of the item, as it must be purchased before it’s seen in person.

OfferUp

OfferUp is a mobile-only, e-commerce app for local buyers and sellers. Most people describe it as a hybrid of Craigslist and eBay. Buyers and sellers communicate through the mobile app and decide on an initial price for whatever item is being listed and sold.

Then, if arrangements can be made, the buyer and seller meet in person for the buyer to examine the item. If all goes well, the transaction is completed. Sellers can also ship items to buyers.

OfferUp is beneficial for those interested in flipping cell phones because they can examine the phone before they buy it and negotiate a good price, provided the seller is willing.

LetGo

LetGo is a relatively new company that provides a website and app for buying and selling things in local areas. LetGo is similar to Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, but differentiates itself by encouraging sellers to advertise big-ticket items such as cars, furniture, housing, and electronics (like phones).

With the LetGo app, sellers can post an item in minutes and chat with potential buyers right away. LetGo is considered a mobile classifieds application easy to use with quick results.

LetGo is also another means of finding phones to buy and flip. However, it’s important to follow safety measures when meeting up with sellers and making a transaction.

Flea Market

Many communities have local flea markets where people can bring previously owned items and sell them. These markets are usually advertised in local publications and generally take place on weekends.

One of the benefits of shopping for used cell phones at a flea market is buyers can physically look over the product and ask questions before committing to any purchase.

In addition, bargaining is expected at flea markets so buyers rarely pay asking price for the items. Cash is the expected form of payment.

Get Cracked Phones

When buying phones to flip, one strategy is to purchase cracked phones. Most phone owners consider a cracked phone to either be irreparable or too expensive to fix, so they would rather get rid of it.

This benefits phone buyers because they can offer a low sum for purchase, repair the crack, and then sell it for a much higher price.

Most likely the original phone owner will be happy to get at least a little return on their damaged device, and the buyer of the flipped phone will be happy getting a deal on a refurbished phone as opposed to an expensive brand-new one.

Get Cheap Phones

It’s important when flipping phones to buy cheap ones at the outset. Flipping phones requires effort in repairing and refurbishing, which adds to the monetary cost of the phone to be flipped and requires an investment of time.

Buying cheap phones is the smartest way to create a healthy profit margin. If the used phone isn’t cheap at the outset, flipping it will not be worth the time or money.

Don’t Buy Unprofitable Phones

Buying unprofitable phones is not worth the trouble, either. These phones include ones damaged beyond repair, phones that generate little to no interest among refurbished phone buyers, or phones completely out of date.

Other characteristics of unprofitable phones include those with broken speakers and/or buttons, and phones that are locked or cannot “power on.”

Buying unprofitable phones means they are nearly impossible to resell, let alone capable of generating a profit.

2. Tips on How to Sell Phones

Be Honest

When flipping a phone, it’s best to be honest and detailed about its condition and capabilities. This will establish a sense of trust with a buyer that actually increases the chance of a sale.

This is particularly true if the transaction will take place in person, such as when they see the refurbished phone, they won’t feel as if they’re being duped or cheated.

Sellers can certainly outline the positive features of the phone. Listing the general phone specs is one way to do this, and buyers can find these specs by looking up reviews. However, any undisclosed damage or issues will hurt the chances of selling the phone. This makes the flip ineffective and not worth the effort.

Good Pictures

Another tip for selling flipped phones is to provide good pictures. This can generate greater interest on websites such as eBay, Craigslist, Amazon Marketplace, LetGo, and so on.

Since online shoppers can’t touch the items, they depend on pictures to view the quality and condition of what’s being sold. The clearer the pictures, the more likely a buyer will express interest.

Using good pictures as a selling strategy is also beneficial in another way in that it can set a seller apart from the competition. Most amateur sellers online will include a few pictures that aren’t very detailed.

Providing close-ups and different angles can distinguish someone as a seller that is thorough and honest about the product.

No Trades

People who flip phones should do so only on a monetary basis. Making trades, particularly for other phones, is a futile effort and generates no profit for the seller. It can lead to an endless cycle of trading.

For phone flipping, the best business practice is to sell the refurbished phone for money, ensuring it’s a cash transaction or the equivalent (PayPal, Venmo, etc.).

Meet in Public

Experts agree any in-person transactions should be made in a public place. Neither buyers nor sellers should disclose their personal information or invite any stranger to their home. The safety of all parties is much more protected in public places where others are present.

Wiggle Room Practicing

It’s important for people who flip items to practice some wiggle room when it comes to price. This can be difficult, as the seller might see far more value in the product than the buyer, who is most likely looking for a great deal.

Profit should be considered when selling flipped phones, and sellers should theoretically get the highest price possible. However, not selling a phone at all is a definite loss. Therefore, phone flippers should balance being a bit flexible when it comes to selling price without sacrificing a decent profit.

3. Where to Sell Phones

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace is an excellent resource when it comes to selling refurbished cell phones for those who wish to flip them.

In addition to allowing the seller to post a description and photos of the item, Facebook Marketplace encourages “shares” among social media users. This allows a friend to share another friend’s listing and “tag” others who might be interested in what the seller is offering.

An added benefit to Facebook Marketplace is its commerce policies for buyers and sellers. Safety during transactions should be adhered to, however there is a stronger sense of regulation through this site.

Craigslist

As mentioned earlier, Craigslist is essentially an online classified ads section and community bulletin board for the world. There are millions of people scrolling through Craigslist ads every day, looking for all manner of items to buy. Therefore, Craigslist is an optimal vehicle for selling used cell phones.

The process of selling on Craigslist is quick and easy. Sellers create a listing with a description and photos of the item. When it comes to flipping cell phones, it’s good practice to be honest about its condition. It’s also essential to practice safety measures when interacting and transacting with buyers.

eBay

Selling phones on eBay is a great way to reach buyers who aren’t local to your area. It’s important as a seller on eBay to earn excellent ratings.

Therefore, sellers should make sure to provide excellent descriptions and pictures – especially when it comes to refurbished phones. Since purchased items must be sent to the buyer, it’s also essential to package everything carefully.

OfferUp

OfferUp is a fast-growing mobile app for people who want to sell and buy previously owned items. It’s excellent for phone flippers because the transactions are generally quick and take place locally.

It’s important for sellers to be honest and accurate when listing an item since the price is not fixed until the buyer is able to examine it in most cases.

Buyers are also able to rate and review sellers on OfferUp. This can work in a phone flipper’s favor by establishing a reliable and positive reputation as a seller.

LetGo

LetGo is one of the fastest ways to sell pre-owned cell phones. More people are utilizing this app to make quick purchases from local sellers. Phone flippers may find they need to be more flexible in pricing with LetGo. However, the turnaround for selling and buying is generally rapid, which can allow phone flippers to sell their inventory faster.

4. Create a Flipping Phones Profit/Loss Excel Sheet

Like any personal or business endeavour, it’s crucial to analyze whether the time, effort, and money invested is creating a worthwhile return or profit. The best way to see proof of this is to gather data and display it as a matter of profit and loss. In this way, people who flip phones can clearly assess whether the process is adding enough value and reward to continue.

Creating an Excel sheet is fairly easy and allows for a comparison of profit and loss. For those who are unfamiliar with setting one up, there are several online tutorials that can help.

For those who flip phones, indicate how much upfront cost (money for purchase and repairs, and time spent refurbishing) was invested for each phone and then how much profit or loss was made (the difference between the selling price and upfront cost). If loss is greater than profit, flipping phones is not a worthwhile endeavour.

FAQs

Is Reselling iPhones Illegal?

Reselling iPhones is not illegal. When someone has legally and legitimately purchased a product, it’s theirs to do with as they wish. However, if someone attempts to resell iPhones as a formal business, that can cause potential legal issues.

How Much Money Can You Make Repairing Cell Phones?

The cell phone repair business is growing and a viable way of making money. There is an upfront cost of tools and parts for inventory, however it’s estimated that cell phone repair can generate an average of $800 per week.

This is based on an average of 10 devices repaired per week at $80 per repair job. By building a solid reputation and skillset, those who repair cell phones can generate an excellent annual income.

Conclusion

When it comes to cell phones, most people want the newest upgrades and the latest models. This can lead to hundreds of thousands of phones being discarded per year and piling up in landfills.

Not only is this e-waste unnecessary, but it’s a missed opportunity for people to flip these used phones by purchasing them at a cheap price through online or in-person marketplaces, repairing or refurbishing them, and selling them for a profit.

Not everyone is successful at flipping phones, so it’s important to evaluate the profit and loss margins. However, it can be a worthwhile process for those who are able to fix up pre-owned phones and sell them smartly.

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