Sell iPhone Craigslist Tips

As many of you guys know, I’m sort of a Craigslist junkie. I have sold literally hundreds of items on Craigslist over the years, and I can’t remember ever having any big problems with a transaction.

Since the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus is only a couple of weeks away, many people are now interested in selling their current iPhone in order to finance the new iPhone. This is a smart move, as value of the last generation phones will dip and continue to do so once the new iPhones come out.

So what’s the best way to go about selling an iPhone on Craigslist? I’ve discussed this topic several times on our Podcast, Lets’ Talk iOS, but now I’ll fully break down what makes a successful Craigslist selling experience.

Be honest

Honesty is always best. Be up front about the condition of your iPhone. Don’t lie, and don’t try to mask obvious flaws with the device. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, embarrassment, and potential confrontations if you are honest about what you’re selling. Don’t try to scam people. It’s never a good thing, and can come back and bite you in the butt.

Oh, and turn off Find My iPhone, please!

Get a burner phone number

That said, you still want to use common sense. It’s best not to give out your real phone number on Craigslist, or any public website for that matter. The last thing you want is someone calling your real phone number harassing you about an iPhone that you sold two weeks ago.

I use Google Voice as my burner phone number, and it works great. I include this number in all of my Craigslist posts, which makes potential customers feel more at ease knowing they can contact you.

Including a phone number also allows customers to text you, and when you receive a text, you’ll know that it’s directly related to your Craigslist selling activity. It’s a great way to filter Craigslist from the rest of your life.

Get a burner email address

When you create your Craigslist account, create a burner email address that’s only used for Craigslist activity. The same principal mentioned above applies. People feel better about doing business with you if you advertise your email. Having a Craigslist-only email address keeps all of your Craigslist selling activity separated from day-to-day life.

Emphasize texting

State in your post that you prefer texting. Your phone number is there just in case, but make it obvious that you want to be texted about potential sales. Texting allows you to quickly filter out nonsense, and separate the legitimate inquiries from spam and low ball offers.

Be assertive, yet friendly

Don’t be curt in your post, but be very up front about your expectations. Let the buyer know that you will not stand for low ball offers, and that they will simply be ignored—state this in your ad.

Remember, this is your iPhone and your life that you’re dealing with here. Stand up for yourself, and let people know from the tone of your text that you mean business. People will try to test you on Craigslist, and they will try to get a deal. That’s fine, but don’t be a pushover.

No trades

I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me to do trades. I don’t do trades on Craigslist. Never have and never will. I only deal with cash. If that’s your stance, be sure to state that in big bold letters. Tell potential buyers that you will ignore any requests for a trade.

Take great pictures

Don’t post without pictures. If you don’t include pictures, 90% of the time your post will be looked over, even if legitimate. Post good, well-lit photos of your iPhone. If your office looks like a dungeon from a horror film, go outside and take photos.

Expose flaws, and don’t try to hide them. Being up front about the appearance and condition of your iPhone will put people at ease.

Take pictures of everything that comes with your iPhone, including the box and accessories. It may even help to put your Craigslist email address on a piece of paper and include it in the shot, vouching for your ad’s legitimacy.

When you post your photos on Craigslist, be sure to upload the photo that best-describes your iPhone first. The first uploaded photo will be used as the featured image for your ad. This is the photo that’s displayed in the Craigslist listings.

Use bullet points

People love bullet points. Highlight the best parts of your iPhone, and why the buyer is getting a good deal. List things like storage size, condition, operating system, etc. Let them know if the device has ever been dropped. Little details like that can go a long way.

Use a brief and accurate headline

Don’t try to explain everything in the headline; that’s what the body of the ad is for. Be brief, yet descriptive. Don’t use all caps. Describe the condition of your iPhone at the end of the headline.


Price your iPhone in such a manner that you have a little wiggle room to price haggle. It’s human nature to want to get a good deal, and although it’s happened to me a number of times, it’s rare that someone buys your item at the exact price you asked for.

If you want $350 for your iPhone, ask $400 in the listing. Be flexible, but don’t be gullible. Firmly let the potential buyers know when you’ve reached your rock-bottom price.

Meet in a busy public place

Stress to the potential buyers that you will only meet publicly to make the sale. Malls, banks, and grocery stores make good locations. You want to go where there’s lots of people in a well lit area. Don’t meet in parking lots, always meet indoors. I like malls, because they’re big, have tons of people, have tons of cars, and have tons of exits just in case someone wants to act a fool.

Do not, under any circumstance, invite people to your home, or go to their home. Don’t meet in shady areas, even in public.

Don’t meet at night time, even if the guy insists that he works third shift and he can only meet you on his lunch break at 4:00am. Use common sense. If there’s one thing in this list that you should never compromise on, it’s this.

Meeting for the sell

Once someone bites on your sale, it’s time to arrange the meet up. Hopefully you’ve followed the main rule—meeting in a safe public place with lots of people. Be prompt. I find that it’s best to be there a few minutes before the buyer, which gives you time to relax, check out the surroundings, and get comfortable. Even in a public place with lots of people, you’ll still need to be observant and smart. Arriving early helps you do this.

Smile, be friendly, look them in the eye, and conduct the sale.

Show the product, let the buyer check it out, and get things moving. Don’t spend time haggling over price in person. You should only accept what was agreed on. If someone wants to haggle, let them know you’re not going to put up with it. If they insist, just leave. Remember, until the money is in your hand, it’s still your iPhone. Don’t let someone pressure you into doing something you don’t feel comfortable doing.

Count your money immediately after the transaction, shake their hand if your feel comfortable doing so, and make your exit. If the person looks a little shady, I usually let the buyer leave first, so as to not be followed. Or you can always walk around the store for a while to foster a clean break.

It’s better than eBay

Craigslist gets a bad rap, but I’ve had great success using it. I’ve sold countless items on Craigslist and have never had any real issues. The main thing is to use common sense. If you don’t have a good feeling about a sale, even if you’ve crossed all of the I’s and dotted all of the T’s, call off the sale. You can always sell another day, and you should never feel pressured to sell anything.

The fact is, Craigslist is largely safe to use if you do it the right way. eBay is full of scammers, and it takes forever to get your money. Even when you do get your money, there’s the whole thing about disputes, which can cause frustration and loss, and then there’s PayPal, which can be all sorts of terrible.

I would never use eBay unless it was my absolute last resort. If you live in a metropolitan area, there are tons of potential customers out there that can make your day. The trick is simply finding the right one.

Have you ever sold your old iPhone on Craigslist? What was your experience like?

  • brian.

    “If someone wants to haggle, let them know you’re not going to put up with it.”

    This is good advice. If you agreed to a price. As a buyer/seller don’t change stuff when you show up in person. If that happens walk away. I’ve sold/bought quite a few things on CraigsList and I always assume that the price negotiated before I left is what it is. If I buy, then I’m not going to haggle on price again. If I sell, I don’t take it. Nobody is forcing you to do so.

    Also, yes, it is better than eBay in the sense that it doesn’t take a long time to get your money, and eBay/PayPal are not taking their share after you sell. The pricing is a bit different. If you sell, always anticipate that someone will try to negotiate the price and price fairly and accordingly. As a buyer, I think there’s nothing wrong to offer a reasonable counter-offer. Ex: Someone is selling an iPhone 6 for $650. Ask if you’re willing to let it go for about $575 or so. You’ll probably end up meeting in the middle. Basic negotiating.

    Also, often times I meet inside a bank when they’re open. Not cash on hand until you actually see the product and test it. Plus it is public and it has good recording equipment (hopefully). If someone hassles you, it will be very obvious it’s happening.

    Most of all. Be safe. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Period.

    • Good tips, Brian. Agree on all points.

    • George

      I get my money from eBay the second my item sells.

      • brian.

        Yes, true. It is there from paypal or something, but usually it takes some time to transfer to your account. That’s what I mean.

        Unless there is some other way I’m missing.

      • George

        If you have a PayPal debit card u can withdraw instantly or wait 2-3 days to transfer to bank

    • Chang in Charge

      Good tips man I’m always thinking Starbucks but a bank is perfect.

  • Vince Reedy

    Timely post! I just got a killer deal on an apple watch yesterday. 325 for a 42mm sport.

  • I kind of disagree with the “texting preferred” emphasis. I actually make it clear that I do not want to text. Allowing texting opens the door to a back and forth of stupid questions and answers that usually are inside the CL listing. If you’re serious, call me, let’s chat for a minute, and move on. That’s my 2 cents.

    • That could go either way, to be honest. I’ve had some heavy-breathers call me before, and I just don’t want to deal with that. If the text is serious, we can talk. I ignore a lot of texts anyway, because they ask for trades or low-ball offers. I understand your point, but to me, texting takes less time and mental computation than talking.

  • I have some funny CL stories. Like when I sold my last car. Dude wanted to argue the price at the last minute. I walked away and ended up selling the car for $600 more than originally listed.

    • Yeah, I don’t play games like that. I’ll warn them once that we negotiated the price already, and it’s not up for further negotiation. If they insist? Bye. And yeah, you usually do end up getting more. One thing I’ve learned with Craigslist; if you’re patient, you’ll usually get close to what you asked for. I could probably write an additional dozen tips…but I’ll save that for the eBook.

      • Eikast

        Same here. I mention in the post no hagglers or else I walk. Craigslist is the best place to sell something that you can easily show people that it works. Like I wouldn’t sell or buy a graphics cards on Craigslist.

  • Merman123

    Hundreds of items? Really Jeff? Hmmm lol you should start a business at that rate. I do craigslist all the time but even I haven’t reached the “100’s”.

    Thanks for the tips though they are all great!

    • Yep…kinda sad actually! I just checked my most recent CL account, and I have three pages of items sold (50 per page), so that’s well over 100 items just on that new account alone.

      • Merman123

        Wow! That’s crazy awesome. You should start a business. Like what Cody mentioned on LTiOS. Ship the items to you and then you find a buyer and take a cut.

      • Yeah, but to be honest I don’t actually like selling on CL. It’s a hassle to do it the right way…But I do it, because, well I kinda need to. I can’t buy products for reviews and not get my money back.

      • Rupinder

        Yeah, it’s such a pain to put up the add. It’s not hard, it’s just tedious and boring. But it’s worth it when everything’s been said and done!

  • Eikast

    Jeff, normally I meet the person outside a Verizon store to let them inspect it. They hand me the money and I go inside with them to ensure that the phone is successfully activated on their line. Or hell meet them inside.

  • Ronald Hung

    How much profit do you or did you set yourself to price for the iphone 6/ 6 plus? I have had the worst experience last time. Ebay people are pressing buy it now but never paid everytime I re-post the item. CL had 9 out of 10 robots asking me to ship them overseas. I ended up taking a loss for the phones.

    • Jon Bernhardt

      You can set up a Buy-it-Now on eBay to require instant payment. I made the mistake of not doing that once (coincidentally, with an iPhone) but never again.

  • Vote4Pedro

    best way to sell is Swappa, quick easy and safe just have to drive to the post office and my money is instant on paypal.

  • Techsticles

    Craigslist is great but Amazon allows you to easily sell your old stuff nationwide for top dollar.

    I had two iPod Classics to sell. After selling the first one for $160, I tried Amazon for the second one and was able to get $220 for it.

    I find that people on Craiglist and Ebay want a good deal. People on Amazon want a good product.

  • William Melendez

    Sold my iPhone 6 plus 64 GB for $550 the other day. I always meet up at a local Starbucks. Always take my MacBook order a green tea and do my transactions there and read I downloadblog articles in the meantime while I wait until they leave.

  • :D

    Does no one use Gumtree? It’s really popular here in the UK.

    • Noohar

      I use Gumtree; it’s immensely popular here in South Africa.

  • asch3n

    If you are selling an Apple product and there is an Apple Store nearby, offer to meet them at an apple store and let a Genius run diagnostics on it. They’d likely be willing to pay more if they can get it verified by apple to be legitimate and in good working condition.

    On the flip side, this is exactly what I asked sellers to do when I bought my iPad and Macbook off craigslist. It’s the only way I’d buy an apple product off Craigslist anymore.

    Thanks for the tips, this is one of my favorite posts on iDB.

  • Mike Colacone Saal

    I followed pretty much all of these tips last week when I sold my iPad air 32gb on craigslist. Met at a local dunkin, asked for $400 when I wanted $350(I got that), and didn’t haggle when I got there. It was a good experience, especially since I only paid $200 for the iPad. I sell my iphone every year on there. I wish I and a burner iphone to use for the next2-3 weeks so I could get top dollar for this one… Maybe ill invest in a 5

  • Anna

    I sold an iPhone 5 last month for a friend on Craigslist with absolutely NO problem. I have sold HUNDREDS of items as I have had a small business selling on both Craigslist and eBay. I think this is an excellent run down of how to sell as safely as possible. The only comment I have is I don’t understand why he says it takes forever to get your funds from Paypal. One gets a debit card from them and the funds are available immediately. The bank transfer does take time as always but not the debit card/cash withdrawal card. Thanks

  • ronjon400

    I’ve sold a ton of stuff on craigslist……not one problem. good ad on craigslist =good sale. take someone with you for the meet is a good idea too.


    This used article was really useful for when I wanted to sell something, but I’ve moved to the uk recently and the google voice trick doesn’t work anymore, anyone got any alternatives?

  • r€nato

    OK I have a question, as I am looking to do this as a means of getting the most money possible for my iPhone:

    When I meet up with the prospective buyer, I absolutely do not wish to hand over my iPhone for inspection until I have the money in hand. How do I know the guy isn’t going to bolt for the door? Or fumble it?

    That said, I understand his or her perspective. Why should they hand over the money to me first until they’ve confirmed the phone is in good shape and (probably most importantly) has the memory I stated it would? I’m perfectly happy showing the buyer the phone, but I am absolutely uncomfortable with allowing it to leave my possession until I have the money.

    My solution to this would be to arrive early and seat myself in an area with no exits behind me, facing the door(s). If the buyer balks at handing over the $ before inspecting the phone, I would just say, “you’re standing between me and the door. I think it’s pretty unlikely I’m going to run off with your money.”