Why Your Mobile Carrier Is Ripping You off with Their Trade-In Program

August 16, 2019

Why Your Mobile Carrier Is Ripping You off with Their Trade-In Program

Cell phone trade-in programs are a huge business for your carrier whether you have AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint. These programs seem to offer you a substantial discount on your next cell phone purchase when you trade in your older model. Your old phone is then cleaned and prepared to sell to the next user at a profit. This is a great business model for the cell phone carriers but not for the end consumer.

Carrier Trade-In Programs

Cell phone service providers are the initiators of trade-in programs. Common carriers like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint admit that most people only need one smartphone so they use these trade-in programs as incentives for their customers to upgrade to the newest model. Each of these programs have their own distinctive rules and restrictions for device types and trade-in frequency. It is now fairly common for carrier programs to allow trade-in upgrades every 6 months to 2 years. Almost all carriers will accept your newer model but good luck selling them your older phone.

These cell phone trade-in programs have become the new norm for consumers trying to keep up with the newest trends in tech. Ever since the launch of these trade-in programs the prices of cell phones have seen a widespread increase. Instead of paying for phones in full, consumers are now paying a monthly installment. Since the entire price of a cell phone is being paid in 2 years rather than all at once, carriers can charge more for the phone.

The main benefit of trade-in programs is quite frankly the convenience. You are saving time and they know convenience is on their side which is why they can offer to buy your old phone at a lower price. Also, by trading-in using a carrier program you are locked in to that service provider. The flexibility of switching carriers is eliminated until you pay off the phone in full.

Pros & Cons of Trade-In Programs


• Convenience

• Instant quote


• Lower payout for your old phone

• Higher phone prices when you upgrade to a newer phone

• Locked in to the service provider

OCBuyBack vs. Carrier Trade-In Programs Price Comparison

We did a little research for you and reviewed offers from all four major carriers compared to OCBuyBack on an iPhone X model 256GB in good condition.

Verizon offered $390 – pays in store credit

Sprint offered $370 – pays in store credit

AT&T offered $375 – pays in store credit

T-Mobile offered $365 – pays (1) trade-in credit on bill and (2) virtual prepaid MasterCard® Card (expires in 6 months) typically within 8 weeks. Submit proof of balance & 90+ days in good standing w/ carrier within 30 days of port-in and be active and in good standing when processed.

OCBuyBack offered $510 Like new or $465 in good condition - pays cash via check or PayPal.

Trade-In Programs vs. Selling Online

Here is a list of the most popular online sites for trading/selling your cell phone:

1. Swappa – This is a great choice if you have the time to create the listing and wait for the phone to sell. You will have to pay for shipping costs and answer any offers and or questions potential buyers may have. Swappa does take a fee depending on the value of your cell phone.

2. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint & T-Mobile – Pricing is not competitive. You will get the least value for your phone and will get paid in store credit.

3. Apple – Pricing is not competitive and you will get paid in store credit not cash.

4. OCBuyBack – A great choice if you are looking for a favorable middle between convenience and value. The process is simple; get an instant offer at ocbuyback.com, receive a prepaid shipping label, package your phone up and receive your cash instantly via check or PayPal once your phone has been delivered. You can sell newer or broken phones too.

5. Gazelle – Very well-known company in fact they are one of the original leaders. However, their offers are about 20-40% lower than other companies.

6. EcoATM – Yes you get instant cash on the spot but it’s not worth it. Their pricing is extremely low.

7. eBay – This is a good place to sell for a good price but only approach if you are experienced. There are plenty of scammers to beware. You will need to create the listing, take photos of your phone, pay shipping costs, and answer questions from potential buyers. eBay does take a fee based on the final value (Price + Shipping Costs).

8. BestBuy- You will probably get a bit more than your carrier but will only get in store credit not cash.

Bottom line you are leaving money on the table by trading-in to your carrier. We want to help you get the best bang for your buck! Give OCBuyBack a try and you won’t regret it. You don’t have to take our word for it check out their reviews 9.4/10 stars on TrustPilot and 4.9/5 stars on Google. OCBuyBack offers a simple process, high payouts and superb customer service. 

2 Devices we're talking about


3 offers

Sell Switch

iPhone X

50 offers

Sell iPhone X