So, you’re interested in flipping phones, but maybe don’t quite know what you’re supposed to do or how to begin. While flipping phones may seem complicated, it’s really quite simple, especially if you’re selling on a marketplace you can trust.

We’ve got the definitive guide for flipping cell phones online, covering everything from what phone flipping is to how to make a profit. Let’s get started!

What is phone flipping, and can you make a profit?

Put simply, phone flipping is when you sell a used phone for a profit. Any type of item can be “flipped,” but the secondary market for mobile cell phones has particularly seen strong growth.

Because of the cycle of tech innovation, phones are constantly getting updates and new models are released practically every year by manufacturers, often with a steep price tag. The combination of expensive new phones and excess “old” phone models that still work just fine has resulted in a huge secondary market.

By finding and buying undervalued used phones and reselling them at market price, phone flippers can make quite a profit, especially once they scale up in volume and/or margin.

Why flip phones?

Those who flip phones serve a set of buyers who are looking to save money by skipping on the brand new phone and buying a gently used & fully functional phone at an affordable price, instead.

Thanks to the Internet, used phone sellers can now easily connect with potential buyers through several online marketplaces. There are a lot of places to sell phones online, and we’ve covered the big cell phone marketplaces here.

Some marketplaces specialize in being a go-to platform selling used phones. Glyde is a used phone marketplace that has designed a better way to buy and sell phones through innovative technology and the elimination of middlemen. Learn more here or keep reading to get the details on exactly how to start flipping phones.

Where to buy phones to flip

As one would guess, the first step to flipping phones is to have a used phone to sell. If you’re just getting started, this could be your very own phone that you’re wanting to get rid of or maybe the phones of friends and family. 

More commonly, those who flip phones will source phones from the very same place that they’re selling phones! This includes all types of online marketplaces, both formal and informal. Big sites like Amazon and eBay or more niche platforms like Swappa or Mercari are common places to check out.

You can also find phones to buy on informal marketplaces like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. These have the advantage of being more haggle-friendly but also usually involve risky in-person meetups. 

Glyde is the best place to find phones, since you can eliminate the many industry middlemen that often results in higher prices on Amazon and eBay. Plus, with smart contracts and verified diagnostics testing, there’s more transparency in the condition of the phone and tighter security of the transaction.

But before you purchase a phone to flip, you should know how much you should pay for it and what details you should check.

How much should you pay for a phone?

To figure out how much you should pay for a used phone that you plan to flip, you need to know the current market value of the phone and your profit goal.

The phone’s market value is what you will likely be able to sell it for later. This value changes all the time, especially when new models are released, so you really want to stay updated on this number when you sell. 

How to figure out how much a phone is worth

The market value of a phone can be calculated by scanning listings of the phone on various online marketplaces and determining the average price it usually goes for. Or you can use Glyde’s pricing tool! Simply select the phone model you’re interested in and note the value stated under “Glyde Recommended Pricing.” This is the fair market value of the phone.

From there, you’ll want to figure out what the minimum profit you want to make from the phone is. Commonly, phone sellers target a profit of around $100 to $200, but this amount is up to you! How much would profit would make the effort of flipping phones worth it?

Once you pick a profit goal, simply subtract that number from the market value and you’ll get the amount that you should be paying for a phone you plan to flip. So, for example, if a phone’s market value is $500 and you want to make $100 in profit, then look for phones that are selling for around $400 or less!

What to check before you buy a phone to flip

Of course, you also want a phone that’s in a condition that buyers will want. Sometimes a used phone will be listed for extremely low because it has some kind of issue that will make it harder for you to resell. 

Check photos and the description

Use the photos and description of the listing to judge the condition of the phone, or reach out to the seller. Review for obvious physical issues (dents, scratches, cracks, etc), as well as the condition of the charging port, camera, speakers, microphone, etc.

Remember that most buyers want a fully functioning phone with minimal cosmetic damage. 

Make sure the phone is compatible with the right carriers

Additionally, note whether the phone is listed as locked or unlocked, which affects what mobile carriers it is compatible with. Unlocked phones are typically easier to sell, but a locked phone is not a dealbreaker by any means. Check out our blog posts for more details about unlocked phones and compatibility with carriers.

You’ll also want to be cautious of scammers that sell blacklisted or locked phones. These phones will not be usable at all. If possible, ask for the device’s IMEI number and use online tools to check on its blacklisted status. This is more of an issue in true peer-to-peer or informal marketplaces, where the site has no process of vetting sellers & products.

Trusted marketplaces like Glyde verify all of this information before allowing sellers to list. We break down in more detail what to check before buying a used phone in this blog post

Where to sell your phone

After you’ve purchased a used phone to flip, you’re ready to sell it!

There are plenty of popular places to sell used phones online. These include big players like Amazon and eBay, online market places like Mercari and Swappa, and even informal marketplaces like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. We broke them all down, with pros and cons, in this blog post here.

If you’re looking for a used phone marketplace built on trust and transparency, though, check out Glyde! Both buyers and sellers benefit from Glyde’s free mobile diagnostics testing and smart contracts. 

The selling process is simple and supported by the innovative technology platform TessaB.

By running mobile diagnostics tests with the Glyde mobile app before you list a phone, you can better communicate to buyers the condition of the device, with the transparent results allowing your buyers to be confident in their purchase. 

Our digital smart contracts protect sellers and buyers from unscrupulous players! Buyer payments are held in escrow and released when diagnostic results are verified by the app, discouraging dishonest buyers who like to abuse return policies.  

In addition to our innovative diagnostic tools and contracts, Glyde’s platform fee covers free ground shipping on all phones sold and a 3-month warranty on all fully functional phones, something that no other marketplaces offer.

Get started on Glyde today!

FAQs about flipping phones for profit

What type of phone should I flip? Which phones are the most profitable?

Most phones can be flipped, but the phones with the most demand are iPhones!  They are also easier to make a sizeable profit off of. This is mainly because they consistently release new models each year and have created a culture of loyalty where their customers love to update to the newest phone. As such, it’s easy to find undervalued iPhones that are relatively new and in good condition.

Samsung Galaxy phones are a close second! While they’re not as popular as iPhones, there is still a huge market for Android phones.

How much can you make flipping phones?

The amount of money you can make from flipping phones heavily depends on the types of phones you’re selling. Some older or less popular phones may have lower profit margins, you could easily earn in the hundreds of dollars for high-quality and in-demand devices.

From there, it’s all about volume and how many phones you’re capable of selling!

How to identify a good deal on a phone?

Essentially, anything under the market value of a phone is a good deal, with the lower the price, the better the deal. You can use Glyde’s pricing tool to figure out the market value and then subtract your profit goals (i.e. $100 in profit) to figure out the deals that are best for you.

How many phones should I flip at once?

Start slow if you’re just getting started, then work up to flipping as many phones as you can handle! Making a goal for how much profit you want to make total and per phone, then dividing the values can also give you a good idea. For example, if you want to make $500 a week in profit and aim to make $100 in profit per phone, then you’d need to sell 5 phones a week to reach your goals.


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