Can I Sell My Phone While Under Contract?

Last updated June 6, 2023

  • This article will help you figure out what options you have to sell your financed phone while still under contract.

  • Learn everything you need to know about selling a phone you’re still paying for.

  • You’ll also find out if you can sell a leased phone.

In a world where technology is advancing rapidly, owning a mobile phone has become a necessity, and for most of us, the ultimate pocket companion. However, not everyone can afford to buy a brand new smartphone outright. As a result, mobile phone contracts have become increasingly popular. These contracts bind you to a specified network provider for a certain period, where you pay a fixed amount on a monthly basis for both the device and the services. 

But what happens if you change your mind and want to sell your phone while under contract? Can you do it, or will you be stuck with it until your contract ends? In this article, we will delve deeper into this question and provide helpful insights into whether you can sell your phone while under contract.

Can I Sell My Phone While Still Paying for It?

Yes, it is possible to sell a phone that is under contract and while you are still paying for it. However, there are certain factors that must be taken into consideration. When a phone is purchased on a payment plan, the buyer typically signs a contract agreeing to make monthly payments until the phone is fully paid off. If the phone is sold before the contract is fulfilled, the remaining balance on the phone will still be owed to the service provider. 

This means that the buyer must be informed of the outstanding balance and be willing to take on the responsibility of paying it off. Additionally, certain service providers may place restrictions on selling phones that have not been paid off. This means it is important to thoroughly review the Contract’s TOC before attempting to sell the device. In short, while it is possible to sell a phone that isn’t paid off, it is important to proceed with caution. Most importantly, ensure that all parties involved are aware of any outstanding balances and obligations.

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Checklist Before Selling Your Phone While it is Still Under Contract

Here’s a short checklist of things to do to make this work for you:

  1. Check your contract or payment plan: Review the terms and conditions of your agreement with the phone carrier or financing company. Figure out any restrictions or penalties for selling the phone before completing the payment. Some contracts may have specific clauses regarding selling the device before it is fully paid off.
  2. Remaining balance: Determine the remaining balance on your phone. If you are on a financing plan, you might owe a portion of the total cost of the phone. You will need to pay off that remaining balance to the carrier or financing company before transferring ownership to the buyer.
  3. Market value: Assess the market value of your phone. Consider factors such as the phone’s age, condition, and any additional accessories included. Compare prices of similar devices to determine a reasonable selling price.
  4. Buyer expectations: Be transparent with potential buyers about the fact that you still owe money on the phone. Make sure they understand that the phone is not fully paid off and that you will need to settle the remaining balance before transferring ownership.
  5. Carrier unlocking: If your phone is locked to a specific carrier, it might be necessary to unlock it before selling. Contact your carrier to inquire about the unlocking process and any associated fees.
  6. Transfer of ownership: Once you find a buyer, you will need to settle the remaining balance with the carrier or financing company. Afterward, you can transfer the ownership to the buyer, providing them with all relevant documentation and ensuring any necessary steps are taken to complete the transfer successfully.

Do Carriers Let You Sell Financed Phones?

Well, the answer is that it depends on what carrier you’re on. Let’s see how the main carriers feel about allowing you to sell your phone while it is still under contract. We’ll list them in alphabetical order so we’re not playing favorites. 

Can You Sell Your AT&T Financed Phone?

As an AT&T user wishing to sell your phone before it’s fully paid off, know that this is perfectly possible to do. However, bear in mind that you must keep up with your monthly payments. You could also pay the early termination fee to avoid being blacklisted by AT&T. 

Can You Sell Your Sprint Financed Phone?

As a Sprint phone owner, you don’t need to worry about still owing money on it if you plan to sell it. Keep up with your payments or pay off the phone in full, and you can go ahead with the sale. However, avoid defaulting on payments as Sprint could then blacklist your device, rendering it unusable for the buyer.

Can You Sell Your T-Mobile Financed Phone?

Selling your T-Mobile phone is completely feasible. You should not forget to settle the remaining balance, however. Alternatively, you should keep up with monthly installments to avoid getting your device blacklisted by T-Mobile. By following this simple step, you can exercise your right to sell your phone with peace of mind and without any nasty consequences.

Can You Sell Your Verizon Financed Phone?

As an owner of a Verizon-bought phone, you can still sell it even if you haven’t paid it off yet. However, it’s important to stay up to date on your payments. If you don’t pay your installments, you are at risk of Verizon blacklisting the device. This could make the phone unusable and you could end up in trouble with the buyer. 

Can You Sell Your Financed Phone to Other Companies?

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Yes, there are some companies that can take on your financed phone. However, most trade-in buyers will want you to have paid your contract off. Our advice, as always, is that you’re completely transparent about the situation you’re in. SellCell, for instance, asks a ton of questions about your phone when you’re trading it in.  

One company that can take on your phone while it is still under contract, however, is SellLocked. SellLocked is an accredited partner of SellCell, focusing on buying financed and other locked phones. Given their profile, they’re going to be your best bet in this situation. Whether the phone is still financed, has a bad IMEI, or is locked, SellLocked is going to help you out. 

As mentioned, selling financed phones is a complex process and SellLocked is already proficient at solving such issues. The platform can end up saving you time and money. With this easy-to-use platform, you can quickly and conveniently list your financed phone for sale.

SellLocked protects both buyers and sellers through the transaction process, so there’s no risk of fraudulent activity. You can sell Android devices or iPhones just as easily, so you should give it a go.


What Other Options Do You Have When You Have a Financed Phone?

Besides selling the phone off to SellLocked, you have a few more options. Here are some options for you. 

You Can Try Moving to Another Carrier

If you feel stuck in a phone contract and want to upgrade to a new carrier, you should look out for contract buyout deals from carriers that can pay off your smartphone and early termination fees. While you may need to trade-in your current phone, the incentive of a discounted new phone can help offset your balance with your previous carrier. Keep in mind, switching carriers may not always save you money and the new carrier’s payoff may not be immediate. It’s worth considering, just be prepared to potentially pay out of pocket in the meantime.

You Could Move Your Phone Contract to Another Individual

If you want to get rid of your leased phone and the contract attached to it, your carrier may allow you to transfer it all to someone else. This is something we discussed at length already, but it’s worth mentioning again because it seems to be the best option out there. The whole process of transferring ownership can be a bit complicated and each carrier has its own policies. More importantly, however, is that it can be done. 

You Could Close Your Service Provider Contract

If you want to close your service provider contract, there are several options available to you. One of the simplest ways to do so is by paying off the balance of your phone. Once you have paid off the phone, you can cancel the contract without incurring any early termination fees (ETFs). 

Alternatively, if you are still making payments on your phone, you can pay the applicable ETF as per your contract stipulations. However, if you find the ETF to be quite high or you don’t have the cash available to pay off your phone, you can look into other options. Some service providers may allow you to transfer your contract to someone else. Others may offer a flexible payment plan for your outstanding debt. 

Ultimately, the best course of action will depend on your individual circumstances. It’s always best to speak with your service provider directly to explore all of your options. With a little bit of research, you can easily close your service provider contract in a way that works for you.

Can I Sell a Phone With a Bad ESN – When It Isn’t Paid Off?

Woman Calling While Calculating Bills

Now, if you have a phone that isn’t paid off and you want to sell it, your carrier will flag its ESN or IMEI. Trying to sell a phone that isn’t paid off with a bad ESN can have serious consequences. Firstly, it is essential to understand what these terms mean. An ESN is an electronic serial number, a unique identifier for a mobile device. 

A bad ESN means that the phone has been reported as lost, stolen, or blacklisted due to fraudulent activity. Selling a phone with a bad ESN is illegal and can result in criminal charges. 

Moreover, if a buyer purchases a phone with a bad ESN, they will not be able to activate it or use it with any carrier. This means that they will have a device that they cannot use and have lost their hard-earned money. In addition to potential legal repercussions, selling a phone with a bad ESN also negatively impacts the seller’s credit score. This damage to your credit score can affect your ability to get loans, apply for credit cards, and even rent an apartment. 

It’s vital to make sure that you pay off all outstanding balances and that the phone has a clean ESN before selling it. Always disclose any issues with the phone to the potential buyer to avoid legal and financial repercussions.

Will Anyone Buy a Phone With a Bad ESN or IMEI?

Some buyers might purchase a phone with a bad ESN or IMEI. They can buy it for parts, to use it as a wifi-only device, or for international use. Additionally, carriers like Verizon and Sprint are now allowing people to reactivate phones with bad ESNs. They’re restricted to their prepaid networks, however, but that opens up a new market for these types of devices. So, while it may not be the most desirable option, there are buyers out there who would consider purchasing a phone with a bad ESN.

Some resellers may also buy a phone with a bad ESN. You will, however, need to go through additional steps to prove you own the phone and it wasn’t lost or stolen. 

Can You Sell a Leased Phone?

While we already discussed selling off a phone you got financed, it’s time to discuss what you can do with leased phones too. Some carriers will allow people to get a smartphone by paying a monthly fee to use it. If you no longer want to have a lease, you can either return the phone to your carrier or pay off the balance and take complete ownership of the device. 

Therefore, unless you pay off the balance, a leased phone is not yours to sell. If you stop making payments and don’t return the phone, you’re going to get in trouble. This will not only end up on your credit report, but it can have legal repercussions. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid doing that. Once you pay off the phone, however, you can just sell it on SellCell, for instance, without any kind of issues. 


Remember if you want to review your options for Financed, Phones under contract and other Locked Phones visit SellCell accredited partner…