How to Flip Cell Phones for Profit

November 13, 2018

Learn how to flip cell phones for profit. This side hustle guide will tell you the essentials to buying and selling cell phones for extra income.

Would you believe me if I told you that flipping phones is a very legitimate side hustle? I've been flipping cell phones over the years and will tell you that it is worth the time as long as you do some research and start small. 

After doing it for some time, you can expect to make upwards of $20/hour flipping cell phones. The best part is you can do this on your own time whenever you want. Here I will answer everything you need to know about flipping cell phones.

How do I make money flipping cell phones?

The principle of making money flipping things is simple. You buy something at a lower price and sell it at a higher price. However, you need experience and training to make this flip. All corporations are set up with this "Buy Low, Sell High" concept.

 This is what everyone on Wall Street works for. Learn how to apply this concept and work for yourself by buying cell phones and selling them for a higher price to make a profit. 

Why should I flip cell phones? 

Almost everyone uses cell phones and they are only becoming more widespread. Cell phones are easy to buy, and they are easy to sell (especially iPhones). They are small and easy to ship, which is a must for flipping. The profit from flipping cell phones can be substantial if you do it correctly.

You can do it on your own time, when you want and how you want. You can make at least double minimum wage once you know how. 

Where do I buy cell phones to flip? 

Craigslist or KSL - I buy cell phones from Craigslist or KSLThe idea is to buy local and sell nationally. These are the best places to find cell phones for sale. When I find a phone that is in a price point I like, I will usually ask them if they are willing to lower the price point if I will drive to meet them somewhere that same day. Try to be accommodating in exchange for a lower price. Some people will come down and price and some will not. I tend to only buy a phone if I know I will make at least $50 from it. If you are not sure how much a cell phone will go for you are buying, then read on. 

What should I check before buying a phone? 

IMEI Number - The first and foremost things you need to check before buying a cell phone is to make sure the IMEI number is clean. "Clean" means that the cell phone is in good standing with cell service providers or not stolen. I use Swappa's IMEI Checker for this. I always ask for the IMEI number from the seller before I even meet them. I check it beforehand and then double check the phone when I get there to make sure it's the same IMEI number they gave me. 

Cracked Screen - You will most likely not want to buy a cell phone with a cracked screen unless you know how to repair it. In my opinion, it's not worth the effort to replace the screen especially with the increasing complexity of cell phones these days. 

Speakers and Microphone Work - You can do a simple speaker and mic test by talking to Siri or saying "O.K. Google" if it's an Android phone.

All Buttons are Functional - Test each and every button on the exterior works and check to make sure each part of the phone screen responds to touch.  

Cameras - Be sure to take pictures and videos with the front and back cameras. 

Charging Port and Battery - Be sure to ask the seller for the charging cord or bring your own to test it. 

Wifi/Bluetooth - Check the Wifi by connecting to an open Wifi network or your personal phone's hotspot. You can check the Bluetooth by connecting to a pair of wireless headphones. 

Price - Check the selling price of the phone you are about to buy. Go to and check at what phones are currently listed for and in what condition. Subtract $10 for the listing fee and $15 for shipping and then you will know how much the cell phone will sell for. Note that Paypal will take 3% as well. This will be the basis for how much you want to buy cell phones for. 

Where do I sell cell phones?

Swappa - Swappa is my absolute #1 place for selling cell phones. They don't charge you 10% like eBay does even though they have a solid number of customers.

eBay - If you already have an eBay profile and want to make things a bit simpler to get started then you can use eBay. Please note they will charge you 10% in final fee values which equate to $50 if you are selling a $500 phone. 

How do I best ship a cell phone?

While you can use any postal carrier you want to ship a cell phone, I prefer using USPS. They have always been reliable and get the job done at a fair price. The following is what I always include in my shipping when I ship a cell phone:

Priority 2-Day Shipping - If someone is paying you a few hundred dollars or more for a cell phone, they probably don't want to wait a week to get it in the mail. I believe the phone will sell faster if you use 2-Day shipping as well. 

Insurance - Always insure the cell phone for the sales price and get the tracking number and receipt from USPS. Do you really want to gamble hundreds of dollars in hopes of just saving $5?

Signature Confirmation - Signature confirmation, like insurance, is to protect you. If someone signs for the package, then USPS won't leave the phone outside at the destination just to possibly get stolen. A person will actually have to sign for the cell phone once it reaches its final destination. This also only costs a few bucks and can save you hundreds!

Bubble Wrap and Good Packaging - Last but not least, don't skimp on the bubble wrap and tape for shipping. Be sure to make the phone nice and cozy with all the bubble wrap before you ship it :)

And there you have it! You officially know how to flip cell phones like a pro. There is no easy or quick way to cell phone flipping success. But, if you are willing to work hard then this is a legitimate side hustle that can make you a good chunk of change.