When you buy a new car, you sell or trade in your old car. But when you buy a new phone, it appears that only 20 percent of you are selling your old phone. Added up, that means Americans are sitting on $33.85 billion worth of old cell phones.
Those numbers come from a new study commissioned by SellCell.com, a smartphone recycling price comparison site. It’s probably not the most unbiased source, but the core point is Americans are hoarding old phones that they could be selling.
You can sell your old phone on websites like nextworth.com and gazelle.com. Right now, Gazelle.com is offering $205 for a used 16GB iPhone 4s in good condition. ATT sells a new iPhone 5 for $199. Of course, that's with a two year contract, which is why people pay more for old phones with no contracts.
The other reason old phones command top dollar is because, like the study says, they're scarce. If everyone in America actually sold the old cells they've got sitting around, the supply would go up, and the prices would fall. Old phones would be worth a lot less.
Here’s one last word of advice: Before you sell your phone, always wipe everything off it -- even if the company says they're going to do it themselves.