Do Pawn Shops Take Cell Phones?

Michael Kwan
pawn shop

Just like at flea markets and liquidation stores, you can never be completely certain what you'll find at the local pawn shop. If you're looking for some extra money, you may be thinking about selling or pawning your cell phone. However, not all pawn shops will accept your phone.

At the Pawn Shop's Discretion

Certain items may have a clearer or less disputable value to them. This is why so many pawn shops will openly accept jewelry, gold, silver, precious metals and the like. This value is less likely to diminish greatly over time. Cell phones are different because even a high end smartphone from a few years ago is worth very little today.

It is ultimately at the discretion of the pawn shop whether they are willing to accept your cell phone. This is true whether you are interested in pawning your cell phone to secure a loan or you are trying to sell your cell phone outright. They may be concerned that you are trying to sell or pawn a stolen phone that is rendered virtually useless.

According to Pawn Nerd, many shops will consider taking in your cell phone, but "not all pawn shops operate the same way." Your mileage may vary.

Pawning a Cell Phone

If you would like to pawn your cell phone, there are a few steps you should take before you even step foot inside the pawn shop itself.

  1. Back up all your important data if you haven't already done so. This includes backing up photos and messages.
  2. Encrypt the data on your phone if possible.
  3. Perform a full factory reset, being sure to erase all personal information.
  4. Remove your phone from Android Device Manager or Find My iPhone (iCloud) so the service no longer attempts to trace its location.
  5. Take note of the exact make and model of the cell phone you'd wish to pawn. What specific version is it? What storage capacity does it have? What carrier is it from?
  6. Look up the phone numbers of local pawn shops in your area.
  7. Call ahead to confirm the pawn shop is willing to accept cell phones. Not at all stores will consider them, and you don't want to waste a trip.
  8. Research online to determine a fair market value for your phone. Look for identical or similar used phones on eBay and Craigslist, for example.
  9. Go to the pawn shop with photo ID and be prepared to negotiate.

Tips for Maximizing Value

If you are trying to pawn an older flip phone, it's unlikely any pawn shop will be interested. Those types of phones aren't worth very much. Even smartphones that are more than a couple years old can be of little interest. Bear this in mind when thinking about how much money you can expect, especially if you are pawning the phone and not selling it.

There are a few simple steps you can take to improve your chances of getting as much cash as you can for your cell phone.

  • Unlocked phones are generally worth more than phones that are still locked to their carriers. It may be worth the expense to have your phone unlocked before trying to sell or pawn it.
  • Gather up as many of the original accessories as you can, including the original retail box if you still have it. A complete package is not only worth more than the phone on its own, but it also gives the pawn shop more confidence that the phone is not stolen.
  • The condition will also affect its value. If you've got a cracked screen or other significant damage, it may not be worth the trouble trying to take your phone to the pawn shop. They might not take it.

Get Cash for Your Cell Phone

While there are certainly some pawn shops that are not at all interested in cell phones, many stores may consider them. You just have to call ahead to confirm their interest before making the trip. And if the pawn shop won't take it and you have no more use for the phone anyhow, consider sending it in for recycling instead.

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Do Pawn Shops Take Cell Phones?