Is It Better To Take Advantage of a Trade-in Offer or Buy a Phone Through eBay?

Welcome to Ask Clark, a column designed to answer your financial questions, by money expert Clark Howard.

Should I Trade in My Old Phone or Buy One Through eBay?

Wolfgang from Florida asks: "I have T-Mobile and want to upgrade from the Samsung Galaxy S7 to the S10 or S20, but they don't offer the S10 or S20 on the trade-in. Would it be best for me to just buy an S10 or S20 on eBay and just keep the S7 as a backup phone if needed?

“I have had good luck with buying phones on eBay for a fraction of the price. So I’m just wondering if I should do that without being able to take advantage of the trade-in.”

Clark’s Take on Whether To Trade In Your Old Phone or Buy One Through eBay

Clark says: The listener has the right idea by looking for a cell phone that's not the latest model, as that can be a good way to save money.

“You will do very well in doing what you’re thinking of doing,” Clark says.”You’ve got much more capabilities with the S10 or the S20. You’ll be able to buy it really inexpensively on eBay, as you said. I think that’s a great plan. And the capabilities, particularly the S20 versus the S7, will be night and day different.”

The latest Samsung S21 models run from $799 to $1,199 on, but a recent search on eBay found some S20 models for a little more than $500.

What To Know Before You Buy From eBay

Before you buy from a third party on eBay, make sure you do some research on potential sellers by checking out their profile and product pages. Here are a few things to look for:

  • A high feedback score: A yellow star means that the seller has at least 10 positive feedback ratings. Learn more here.
  • Negative comments: Read any unfavorable remarks about the seller; reviews can warn you of potential problems with that vendor's products or customer service.
  • Refund policy: If you choose to buy from a third-party seller, be aware of the refund policy and any warranty information.

eBay has a Certified Re-Newed program that ensures that the pre-owned phones you buy will work like new. Here's what to know before you buy a refurbished phone.

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