Last Updated: January 23, 2020
Originally Published: March 5, 2018
Everyone, from Steve Jobs to Bill Gates, has had experience pinching pennies. And with the prices of smartphones today — we’re looking at you, iPhone X — it’s no surprise that many consumers are reconsidering their purchase. If you’re past the return period, however, your only option is to downsize. The question we’re often asked is, can you sell a phone that you still owe money on?
What Happens If You Sell a Phone That Isn’t Paid Off?
If you’ve purchased your phone in full or paid it off, you’re confident that you can resell it — after all, it is yours. It’s when you’ve purchased your phone through an Equipment Installment Plan (EIP) that you question whether you can sell your phone, especially if you’re under contract or if you’re obligated to return it to your carrier. While this is a confusing area for users, you can still sell your phone.
Ok, so why can you sell a phone that isn’t paid off? Because of unsecured credit. If you browse through the fine print of your carrier’s EIP, you’ll likely find they do not place a lien on your smartphone, which means the provider retracts their right to repossess your phone and grants you legal ownership of it. That’s why EIPs are considered an unsecured credit.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you should stop making your payments. If you do, your carrier will blacklist your phone — also known as giving it a bad ESN or IMEI number. This number is accessible to other carriers too, which means they may not activate your phone on their network if it carries a blacklisted IMEI or ESN number. That’s why it’s critical, whether you sell or keep your phone, to complete your EIP payments according to your contract with the carrier.
What Happens If You Sell a Phone That Hasn’t Been Paid Off and Has a Bad ESN
While less-than-ideal, some people do decide to stop their payments after selling their phone, which causes the new owner to receive a cell phone with a bad ESN number. Depending on your carrier, you may not realize the status of your smartphone until switching providers. Verizon and T-Mobile, for example, often block phones with bad IMEI or ESN numbers, while Sprint and AT&T do not.
For buyers, this can be a sore point and lead to the question, “Can you sell a phone that hasn’t been paid off, plus has a bad ESN?” Yes. It’s important to note, however, that some resellers may not purchase phones with bad ESN or IMEI numbers, but The Whiz Cells does. Reselling a blacklisted cell phone does require some additional steps, as we confirm that the phone was not stolen or lost by referencing the database of blacklisted numbers. We’ll also pay 50% less for phones with a bad ESN / IMEI status.
After confirmation, your reselling and payment process proceeds like any other trade-in.
Selling a Leased Phone
Some carriers like Sprint allow you to lease a phone to save money on your monthly payments. At the end of your lease, you then turn in the phone to the carrier for an upgrade instead of fully owning the device. You’ll also have the option to buy out the phone at the end of your lease instead of upgrading – this allows you to keep the device and stop making monthly payments.
You may be wondering if you can sell a leased phone the same way that you can sell a phone on an equipment installment plan. Unfortunately, the answer is no. A leased phone must be paid off and bought out before you can sell it. Otherwise, you must return it to your carrier.
If you have finished paying off your phone lease and now own the phone, you can sell it to The Whiz Cells just like any other device!
Sell and Pay off Your Phone with the Whiz Cells
At The Whiz Cells, we’re an electronics recycler that helps people looking to upgrade their phones at a reduced cost, or people looking to sell their phones at a fair price. With our competitive rates, as well as free shipping and 72-hour payments, we ensure selling and purchasing your smartphone is seamless. To learn more about our prices and selection, visit our shop and eBay store. And if you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!Sell Your Phone