Is it a good idea to buy a used phone on eBay?

Short answer: yes!…if you know what you’re looking for. Stick around and I’ll help you figure out what to look for so you get the best possible deal on your next eBay used phone purchase!

My qualifications for putting together this guide? I’ve bought and sold a lot of phones on eBay. Actually, every single phone I’ve ever had (that wasn’t given away to someone) has been sold on eBay. I’ve been an eBay member since 2008, and currently have a 143 star, 100% feedback rating. Being a successful used phone seller has also helped me be a successful used phone buyer as well!

To start, the goal with buying a used phone is to narrow down what you’re looking for to a very specific list. There are thousands of phones available, and it would take days to go through them all. Decide if you want 32/64/128GB, black/white/pink, and small or large. This will give you a smaller, more manageable list of options to go through.

When you’re scrolling through the list, the most important thing to look for with used phones is that the listing contains real pictures. A set of stock images is usually a dead giveaway that the phone is either a scam or in much worse condition than the seller wants to let on. I always post the following pictures of phones I’m selling, so it’s what I look for from other sellers: a close up of the screen reflecting light (to show any scratches), close up pictures of every corner and edge, the screen on to show that there aren’t any dead pixels or weird lines, the back (without a case), and a shot of the phone with any accessories that are being sold along with it. If there are real pictures of the phone, but there aren’t enough, or you’re questioning what looks like a scratch but could be a hair: email the seller! If they’re legit, they’ll quickly and happily get back to you with more pictures and information.

Next, check the seller’s rating. Users on eBay gain points and stars the more they buy and sell without problems, and the feedback they receive is available for all other users to view. Click the number next to the seller’s username to view the details of their star rating, and see exactly what the positive and negative reviews are saying.

Above is a screenshot of seller ratings. The number is feedback they’ve received from buying and selling. The star will change color based on how much feedback they’ve received. The name of the user will appear to the left of the number and star.

I like to look for sellers that have positive feedback from previous phone sales. If a seller doesn’t have any reviews or previous sales, I pass on the phone, even if everything else seems legit. A majority of eBay users start off by making purchases to get feedback on their account before listing anything, especially more expensive items like a phone.

You also have the option to check additional details such as: where the phone is located, when the estimated delivery is, payments accepted by the seller, and if they accept returns. None of these are deal breakers to me, but if you’re like me, you don’t want to pay much for shipping, and you want your new-to-you phone to arrive fast. (Note: even if a seller doesn’t accept returns, if you end up getting a phone that is nothing like what they described, eBay has your back with their money back guarantee.)

Finally, decide if you want to take time to bid on phones or use the “buy it now” price. The buy it now prices will obviously be much higher, but you get the phone right away. I like to look at the average buy it now price to figure out what I should be spending on a used phone, and bid appropriately. You can often get great deals on auctions that end at weird times, like at 2am. (You’ll just need to stay awake to watch the final minutes of bidding!)

After you’ve made your purchase and the phone has been received, test it out for a few days before leaving feedback for the seller. Make sure all the buttons and options work, and that everything the seller said would be included, is. If you have any issues, try to work it out with the seller first, but in the worst case scenario, you can open a case with eBay and they’ll refund your money if you’re in the right.

So that’s it! Those are my tips for making sure buying a used phone off eBay is an easy, breezy experience. Need more phone buying advice or have an experience you want to share? Give me a shout on Twitter, or drop a comment below!

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