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Walmart, Best Buy Offer Worst iPhone Trade-In Deals

Looking to get the best return when you trade in your used iPhone for cash and credit? You may wish to steer clear of big-box retailers like Walmart and Best Buy. During undercover testing in which Tom’s Guide sold used iPhones, those two retailers offered the worst return — about a third of what we paid for the devices.

Image Composite: Lynn Watson / Ken Wolter /

Image Composite: Lynn Watson / Ken Wolter /

In our testing, we bought used iPhones from seven resellers and online marketplaces for buying used phones. We then turned around and resold those phones to the same services where we purchased them.

On average, resellers returned about half — 52 percent — of what we had paid for an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. But the returns from Best Buy and Walmart were far below that, with those retailers offering us 35 and 34 percent of what they had charged us for an iPhone 6, respectively.

MORE: The Best and Worst iPhone Trade-In Deals

We bought an iPhone 6 from Best Buy for $599.99; the retailer bought it back from us for a $208 gift card. Walmart offered us $125 in store credit for a phone that we had bought from the retail for $369 just a few weeks previously.

Walmart declined to comment on our findings. Best Buy did not return a phone call or an email asking for comment on our experience.

The kind of return we saw isn’t an anomaly for Walmart, at least. Checking the retailer’s website for the best iPhone trade-in values, we found Walmart consistently quotes the lowest trade-in values for phones among the reseller services we tested. Best Buy’s trade-in quotes vary more, depending on what model phone you’re looking to trade in as well as the carrier it’s tied to.

While return on trade-in value was largely to blame for Walmart placing so low in our ranking of places to buy and sell iPhones, Best Buy was also done in by a subpar customer service experience. When our tester tried to get answers to questions about reselling her iPhone, she wound up on hold for 20 minutes, only to be told after several phone transfers, that she’d be better off handling her trade-in in person at a Best Buy store. (To be fair, staff at the store were helpful and friendly.) Furthermore, the used iPhone we bought from Best Buy was missing earbuds — the only used phone we bought in our testing that was missing anything.

Philip Michaels
Philip Michaels is a senior editor at Tom's Guide. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics and old movies. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.