One way to save money on a cell phone is to buy a used cell phone. Given the variety of phones and the excellent prices you can find on Internet sources, like eBay, it can be a great way to buy the phone you want and save money. However, there are traps to avoid and situations to consider when you do this and that’s what we’ll be looking at in today’s buyers guide.
Guide Continued Below…
One of the first things to consider is that you have to buy a used cell phone that is compatible with the wireless service provider you’re planning to use. In the US, Verizon, Sprint and several smaller carriers use CDMA technology while AT&T (previously Cingular), T-Mobile and others use GSM. There are a few other wireless technologies around as well. It is essential that you know the type of technology your wireless provider uses before you purchase your ‘new’ used phone.
Now there is the matter of the used cell phone being locked or unlocked and being free and clear of any flags that might stand in the way of activation. To save yourself time and money, I recommend only buying unlocked phones or phones that are already setup for a provider you’re already using. It’s important to know if the phone has been flagged as being lost or stolen or if it’s ESN (electronic serial number) is tied to an unpaid account. If this is the case it will be difficult, if not impossible, to get the phone activated. Sprint is particularly bad about helping out customers in this situation. Often it’s a matter of working with a decent representative at a store or over the phone. Some sellers will provide you with the ESN of a phone they’re selling so that you can check out this status for yourself before you buy.
Lastly, when you’re buying a used cell phone, you have to know a something about the seller. Are they an individual selling a phone they don’t use anymore? Could it be a stolen phone? Are they a dealer in used cell phones? A general merchandise or ‘drop off’ reseller? In my opinion, it’s generally better to buy from an established dealer with a good customer service reputation in the area of used cell phones. While you may score a better deal from an inexperienced seller, the savings may be offset by problems you encounter after the purchase. Also check the seller’s return policy and avoid sales that are labeled “As Is” and “No Refunds”, indicate damage, use stock photos rather than photos of the phone you’ll be getting or where the seller is not forthcoming about information about the phone. These are often signs of trouble and should be avoided.
With a little caution and common sense it’s not that difficult to score a really good deal on a used cell phone.