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Can you trade in or sell an iPhone that’s still on a carrier contract?

TipTop's picture
January 12, 2024
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Yes. Trading in or selling an iPhone that's still under a carrier contract is possible, but there are several important considerations and potential limitations to be aware of.

You really need to check your contract with your current carrier or contract holder. When you sell or trade in your device, you're still responsible for any remaining payments or obligations outlined in your carrier contract. This might include paying off the remaining balance of the phone or continuing monthly payments until the contract period ends.

You also might have to pay early termination fees. Some carriers may charge an early termination fee if you're still in the contract period. This fee can be significant, so it's important to understand the terms before making a decision.

This relates to selling in a couple of ways. If you plan to sell your iPhone privately, it's generally more appealing to buyers if the phone is unlocked. This is the best way to get the most money for your device because it allows a buyer to use it with any carrier. You'll usually need to pay off any remaining balance on the device before your carrier will unlock it.

Some carriers offer trade-in programs that allow you to upgrade to a new phone before your contract is up. These programs often require you to trade in your current device, which might then be refurbished and resold by the carrier. The terms and value you'll get through a trade-in program vary, so it's worth shopping around or negotiating.

If you're selling to a third party (like through an online marketplace), be transparent about the phone's carrier status. Some buyers might not mind taking over a contract or waiting for you to unlock the device, but they should be informed before the sale.

If you owe money on the phone, consider how the sale or trade-in value compares to your remaining balance. If the sale doesn't cover the full balance, you'll need to pay the difference out of pocket.

It might make financial sense to pay off the remaining balance on your phone before selling it, especially if you can sell it for a higher value as an unlocked device.

Remember to ensure that you're legally entitled to sell the device. If the phone is not fully paid off, it's still technically the property of the carrier or financing company.

While you can trade in or sell an iPhone that's still on a carrier contract, you must consider the contractual obligations, potential costs, and ethical implications. Always check the terms of your contract and communicate openly with your carrier and any potential buyers. If you're unsure, it's often worth seeking advice from the carrier or a legal professional to understand your rights and responsibilities fully.

When you’re ready to sell your device on TipTop or any other platform, check out our guide to getting it ready to go here.