Do Pawn Shops Buy Phones & How to Increase Your Payout

by Erin Schollaert

New phones come out yearly, boasting better cameras, larger screens, and fantastic connectivity.

The average person swaps out their phone every two years, so what are we supposed to do with our old devices after that? 

Do pawn shops buy phones? This could be an excellent way to quickly sell your phone.

Here’s a rundown on everything you need to find pawn shops that buy phones and boost how much you can get for yours.

Can you sell phones to pawn shops?

Selling your phone to a pawn shop would be a great shortcut! This would save you from having to list it on eBay or Craigslist and give you instant money instead.

The issue is that some pawn shops don’t buy phones, with how pawning works.

In some cases, phones simply don’t sell well for some pawn shops based on their customer base and location. 


If you’re unsure if your prospective shop would buy cell phones, you can call ahead to check. This will save you from wasting a trip if they don’t.

Tactic for Success

When selling your phone to a pawn shop, take the time to clean the screen and use pressurized air to clean out any buttons or ports. Bring your charger and anything else that came with the phone that you don’t need. This is just one tip on selling to pawn shops for higher payouts.

What makes a pawn shop turn down a phone?

Do pawn shops take phones in any condition? It’s complicated! Pawn shops are businesses that can only keep running if they can profit from the items they buy.

If they look at your phone and decide it’s a bad investment, they’ll back out rather than risk losing money on the deal.

Some reasons they’ll turn down the phone are more obvious than others.

Flaws That Will Make Them Decline Your Phone:

  • The Screen is Cracked If your screen is cracked, you’re less likely to be able to pawn it.
  • The Phone is Carrier-Locked – If your phone is still locked to a carrier, the pawn shop will not want to buy it.
  • It’s Over Four Years Old – Older devices are harder to push, so they’ll decline this risk.
  • It has Visible Wear – If it’s visibly worn, it hasn’t been well taken care of, and it’ll be harder for them to sell.

When buying a phone, pawn shops will search the IMEI and check to ensure the phone is unlocked and available to sell. Make sure you take out your SIM card if you go through with the sale.

Is it worth selling a phone to pawn shops?

Deciding whether or not to pawn your phone relies entirely on what you think the value of your device is and whether you want to invest the time and energy into trying to get a better price.

Sometimes the smaller amount you get paid is the cost you have to deal with for the convenience of selling your item so quickly. 


Pawn shops are a service to you while also being a business that will try to take advantage of you. Every sale to a pawn shop has a win and a loss.

How much can you pawn a phone for?

How much do pawn shops pay? Pawn shops typically offer no more than 70% of what they can make for selling the phone themselves. 

Generally, this number is a lot lower, so they can try to make an even larger profit, but if you know you could sell your phone for $1,000 on eBay, the pawn shop will never go above $700.

Even then, they’ll probably drop that in half to see how low they can go, potentially still making this an item you can pawn for $500 or more.

Look into the value of your phone and be as confident as you can with it. If they offer you a price that’s far too low and unacceptable, you need to be able to recognize that.

This will help you counter and be clear on value. Don’t try to haggle above that 70% mark, or they’ll turn down your business.

Trend on the Rise

Used cell phone sales rise around 10.23% every year, thanks to the fact that they’re more affordable and trustworthy since you’re not taking a risk on a new device that could fail.

Easy Mistakes to Avoid

If you’re new to selling to pawn shops, it’s a good idea to learn the following mistakes. There are different protocols for pawning vs. selling, so it is important to know how each one works.

Nobody wants to end up arrested or turned down, but people often make these decisions. 


Most Common Pawning Mistakes:

  • Not Price Shopping AroundBefore you pawn it, talk to a couple of shops to find a good price instead of selling to the first one you see.
  • Rushing to Sell for No Reason – If you have time to sell it and don’t need the money instantly, wait and sell it directly to a buyer. It takes longer but makes more money.
  • Failing to Unlock Your Phone – Make sure your phone is unlocked from your network before you pawn it.
  • Pawning a Stolen Device – If you don’t know the origin of a phone, or know it was stolen, don’t try to pawn it. This could get you arrested.

Remember, when you sell an item to a pawn shop, they have to ask for your name and ID.

If you refuse to give them these, they will deny your sale or might try to get in contact with lawn enforcement if they believe you’ve stolen an item.

Be careful, and think through what you’re doing before approaching these shops. 

Wrapping Up

If you’re selling your phone, you deserve every cent you can get from it. Pawn shops aren’t always the best option, so consider carefully if this is the avenue you want to take when selling your device.

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Erin is a business teacher and mother of three. When she’s not in the classroom or fulfilling her obligations as an A+ hockey and lacrosse mom, she’s working on her latest article.

About the Author

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Erin is a business teacher and mother of three. When she’s not in the classroom or fulfilling her obligations as an A+ hockey and lacrosse mom, she’s working on her latest article.