Can I Sell a Financed Phone While Under Contract (2024)

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By Ash Turner
As CEO of and since 2009, Ash has been a pivotal figure in the mobile tech industry. With a background in managing Brightstar’s PhoneRecycleBank, he boasts extensive experience with global carriers and MVNOs like T-Mobile and O2, and leading manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung.

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| Updated on May 22, 2024
Fact Checked By
Marlene Centeno
Marlene specializes in creating comprehensive guides for smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches from leading brands like Apple, Samsung, and Google, demonstrating a deep understanding of these technologies.

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Edited By
Kim Juanillo
Kim, an editor with a rich background in digital content management and developmental psychology, brings a unique blend of analytical and creative skills to BankMyCell. With her background in Psychology, Kim is adept at understanding complex concepts and transforming them into engaging, accessible content.

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  • Can you trade in an iPhone that isn’t paid off? YES! Learn how.
  • Discover the four options you can do on your financed phone.
  • Learn what happens if you don’t pay your outstanding monthly payments to your network provider.

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Owe Money Still? Sell Your Phone Today!

Today’s Top Price for Financed:

iPhone: $640.00
Samsung Galaxy: $450.00

You can sell a financed phone, but that does not exclude you from paying your still owed money.

It is best to go through one of the trusted partners to sell a cell phone with money still owed. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Find your device here and select the “Financed” status.
  2. Choose storage and condition.
  3. Select a store, ship for free, and get paid.

How To Clear An Outstanding Balance

To clear the outstanding balance, contact your carrier (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile) to settle any outstanding payments or pay the early termination fee.

Switch Carriers To Clear Balance

Some carriers offer contract buyout deals that pay off your smartphone and early termination fees to entice you to switch to their services.

To find out your options, contact your carrier:

Transfer Your Financial Obligations To Someone Else

You can transfer your phone and carrier contract to someone else through an “assumption of liability” process, but this option depends on the carrier’s policies.

Read more on your carrier’s transfer policies here:

Discuss Options With Your Carrier

Your carrier might allow contract cancellation without early termination fees in certain circumstances like sickness, relocation, or financial difficulties. It’s best to call and discuss your situation with them directly to explore available options.

If you want to upgrade your phone or lower your monthly phone expenses, consider trading it in or selling it. But is it possible? What about selling a phone under contract?

You can sell financed phones, but there are a few things to consider, such as the possibility of early termination charges and the consequences if you fail to pay your phone off after selling it.

Let’s look at how to sell phones you owe money on and additional options to get out of your phone contract.

Can You Sell a Phone That Isn’t Paid Off?

Yes, you can, here’s why.

When you sign up for a service term or monthly installment plan, your carrier extends you a line of unsecured credit. As a result, the carrier cannot repossess your phone, and you can sell it, even if you still owe money.

However, you must still pay your monthly installments after selling the phone. You can take the proceeds from the phone sale to pay the phone’s remaining balance to your service provider directly to get out of the contract.

But not all buyers want phones with money owed.

How Selling a Financed Phone Works

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Average Customer Rating:

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5 out of 5 on Trustpilot

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  1. Simply select your phone from the list
  2. They’ll provide you with a quote of what they’ll pay
  3. They’ll forward a FREE shipping label
  4. You then mail your iPhone to them
  5. They pay you via check or PayPal within 1-5 days

What About My Specific Carrier?

Can You Sell Your Verizon Phone if it's Not Paid Off?

Verizon Carrier Logo

Yes, selling a Verizon iPhone under contract is possible. However, if you fail to make your monthly payments or pay the ATF, Verizon will blacklist your phone, and the person you sold it to will no longer be able to use it.

Search for your device and select Verizon as your carrier to see how much your Verizon phone is worth.

Can You Sell Your AT&T Phone if it's Not Paid Off?

AT&T Carrier Logo

Yes, selling an AT&T phone under contract is possible. However, you must keep paying your bill or the ETF. If you fail to make your monthly payments, AT&T will likely blacklist it, and the buyer will not be able to use it.

To get and compare prices for an AT&T-financed phone, search for your device and select AT&T as the carrier.

Can You Sell Your T-Mobile Phone if it's Not Paid Off?

T-Mobile Carrier Logo

Yes, selling a T-Mobile phone under contract is possible. However, you must pay off your phone immediately for this option to work. After canceling your contract, you can sign up for any other plan.

Can You Sell Your Sprint Phone if it's Not Paid Off?

Sprint logo

Yes, selling a Sprint phone under contract is possible, but you must continue your monthly payments or pay the phone off. If you fail to pay for the phone, Sprint will blacklist the device, rendering it useless for the buyer.

To estimate how much you can sell your financed phone, find your device and pick Sprint as your carrier.

What Happens If You Sell a Phone That Isn’t Paid Off with a Bad ESN?

imei test financed

Suppose you stop your payments before your contract expires. In that case, your carrier can blacklist your phone by assigning it a bad IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) or ESN (Electronic Serial Number), which every mobile device has.

Understanding the Termination Fees Involved

If you have a contract with a service provider, you typically have to pay a monthly installment until you pay off the phone. After that, you can cancel the contract without paying an Early Termination Fee (ETF.)

However, if you want to cancel the contract before paying off the phone, you may have to pay the ETF your contract stipulates.

How much will it cost me?

In the case of some two-year service contracts, the ETF usually decreases every month. For example, say you sign up for a two-year service term with an ETF of $350 that decreases by $15 per month. If you want to cancel the contract after three months, you must pay an ETF of $305.

These numbers would be worked out like this:

  • Two-year service term = 24 months
  • Early termination fee (ETF) = $350
  • Monthly decrease = $350 divided by 24 months = $15 decrease per month

The simplest and quickest way to cancel a phone contract is to pay the balance off or, in the case of a service term agreement, to pay the applicable ETF. If the ETF is high or you don’t have the cash to pay off your phone, you must consider a different option.

4 Options For Your Financed Phone

Trade-in or Sell a Financed Phone

People who want to save on monthly payments often lease a phone instead of buying one. Some carriers offer the option to lease a phone at a lower rate, but you have to turn the phone in at the end of the lease.

With this option, you don’t own the phone at the end of the service term, but you can buy the phone or opt for an upgrade.

Unfortunately, selling a financed iPhone or Android phone is impossible. With a financing agreement, you buy the device. You can use the money to pay it off immediately if you sell it.

Meanwhile, the leased phone is not yours to sell. If you buy the phone after the lease term, you can sell it.

Switch Carriers: They Might Pay It Off!

Sometimes, carriers offer contract buyout deals that pay off your smartphone and any early termination fees as an incentive to switch to their services. You may have to trade in your current phone for a new one to qualify for these deals.

However, if the program offers the new phone at a discount, it may help offset your existing carrier’s balance.

Switching carriers is a viable option to get out of a contract, especially if you want to upgrade your phone, but this option won’t always reduce your bills.

Additionally, the payoff from the new carrier won’t happen instantly. You may have to offset the balance out of pocket in the meantime.

Transfer Your Phone & Carrier Contract to Another Person

Another option to get out of a contract is to transfer it to someone you know. Transferring ownership is an “assumption of liability,” and each carrier has different policies. You can view policies from some of the major carriers below.

Call Your Carrier in Serious Circumstances

Carriers will always try to hold clients to the terms of their phone contracts – it’s how they make their money. However, there are special circumstances in which a carrier might allow you to cancel without paying early termination fees.

The most common circumstances include illnesses, relocation to out-of-service areas or areas the carrier doesn’t cover, and military deployment. If you cannot honor the terms of your service contract because of financial problems, the carrier may also be willing to reduce your payments or provide an alternative solution.

In any case, your best option is to call and discuss your options with your carrier.

Compare Prices & Sell Financed Phones Today

If you want to sell a phone that needs to be paid off, BankMyCell can help. We’ve assisted countless consumers in finding the best price to sell financed phones. Search for your phone on our site and select all the appropriate options.

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Can You Get in Trouble for Selling a Phone That's Not Paid Off?

Selling a phone that is not fully paid off may result in problems or legal repercussions, depending on the conditions of your carrier’s contract or payment plan.

It could be:

  • Breach of contract
  • Negative impact on your credit score
  • Blacklisted phone
  • Penalties or fines

To prevent these issues, you must pay off the remaining balance before or after selling your phone.

Does My Phone Have to be Paid Off Before I Trade It In?

It depends on the carrier or store. Some carriers accept cell phones that are not fully paid, but you may need to continue paying the remaining balance. In contrast, stores may have different policies. Some accept phones with unpaid balances, while others may require you to pay the phone in full.