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With everyone rushing out to get the new iPhone 5S, store chains such as Walmart, Target and Best Buy have started buying back people’s old phones through special programs. In this article we’re going to examine those programs and see if they are worth it.

Walmart’s Buy Back Program

Walmart’s buy back program is simple. Just trade in your phone via mail or a physical Walmart location, and you will be paid for it through a Walmart eGiftCard. Walmart is offering sellers $225 for a working iPhone 5 16GB (Sprint) model and $145 for a working iPhone 4S 16GB (Sprint) model.

Target’s Program

Target also lets you trade phones in through their buy back online system, or at a physical Target location. Target is offering sellers $212 for an iPhone 5 16GB (Sprint) model and $136 for an iPhone 4S 16GB (Sprint) model.

Best Buy’s Program


Best Buy’s buy back program is by far the best program out there for trading in older phones. For example, Best Buy will give you $178.50 for an iPhone 4S 16GB (Sprint) model in perfect condition, $170.00 for one in a good condition, and $75.50 for one in a poor condition. This is good for you as the seller because you’re not getting some base rate for your phone, but rather a price relevant to the condition your phone is in.

Gazelle’s Buy Back Program


Gazelle will pay you $210 for a flawless iPhone 5 16GB (Sprint) model and $200 for one in a good condition. For an iPhone 4S 16GB (Sprint) model, they will pay you $160 and for a good condition model they will pay $150. Although Gazelle doesn’t pay as good as Best Buy’s buy back program, it is still way better than Walmart’s or Target’s deals.

Pros and Cons of Buy Back Programs

Buy Back programs from Gazelle or store chains are great because they pay almost instantaneously and require no effort on your part. You don’t have to cut a deal or anything, everything has already been setup for you. However, because you get no part in the deal process, you are also prone to get bad deals.

Consider all of the offers the programs make above for iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S models. If you sold an iPhone 5 16GB (Sprint) model on eBay you could get $300-400 for it. That’s twice as much as the other offers from buy back programs. Similarly, if you sold an iPhone 4S 16GB (Sprint) model on eBay you could get $180-265 for it.


The downside to selling your phone on eBay is that you have to spend about an hour setting up eBay and a listing (if you’ve never done it before) and you have to ship the phone once it sells. Some sellers are also worried about getting scammed by the buyers on eBay, and will not risk selling their phone through there.

However, selling your phone directly to another buyer through eBay or Craigslist is bound to get you the price you deserve.

Something to Keep in Mind

If you bought an iPhone 5 for $200 a year ago (with a 2 year contract), and you sell it for $200 to a buy back program, you will have to pay $650+ for a new iPhone 5S. This is because your 2 year contract still hasn’t been renewed, and your carrier is going to charge you the retail price for the new phone.

So that means before you ever sell your phone, make sure that you’re due for an upgrade with your carrier. Because if you’re not, you’re essentially selling your contracted phone that is worth $350-$450, for $200 to some buy back program.

Selling Old iPhones and iPads

If buy back programs aren’t your type of thing, then you can checkout our guide for selling iPhones and iPads via other methods.