If you have an old cell phone lying around or you’re ready for an upgrade but not eligible for a trade-in, consider selling it to a buyback program.
In this article, I’ll take a close look at ecoATM, which I found to be a convenient option for selling your used electronics for instant cash. I’ve checked out a few different popular buyback programs for used phones to find out how ecoATM compares.
This article was updated in May 2023 and I review it every six months. Detailed notes on all updates can be found here.
Selling Your Phone to EcoATM
If you’re looking to sell an old phone, particularly one that’s damaged or outdated, ecoATM may be the most convenient option for you. EcoATM kiosks are located in popular stores including Kroger and Walmart across 48 different states, so there’s a good chance you have one nearby.
Compared to other companies that buy used phones, ecoATM offers the fastest payment method (instant cash) and accepts phones in any condition. Still, you probably won’t get the highest offer from an ecoATM kiosk.
If you’re thinking about selling your phone to ecoATM, here are five things to know before heading to a kiosk:
- What Is ecoATM?
- How Does ecoATM Work?
- Finding Your Nearest ecoATM
- How Does ecoATM Compare?
- Tips for Selling Your Phone at ecoATM
Below, you’ll find detailed information about how to sell your phone at ecoATM and my thoughts on when you should consider an alternative.
What Is EcoATM?
EcoATM is a safe, convenient and easy way to recycle or sell used devices for cash. According to ecoATM’s website, the company is a leader in reducing electronic waste. If your cell phone can’t be refurbished and reused, it’ll be recycled.
Automated ecoATM kiosks are located at a variety of retailers across the United States. These kiosks pay consumers on the spot for used smart devices. You can get an estimated quote online to see what your device is worth. You can also visit a nearby kiosk in person to get an immediate offer.
Unlike a lot of other companies that buy used cell phones, ecoATM accepts phones, MP3 players and tablets in any condition. The company’s goal is to reduce electronic waste, so even if your phone is completely unusable and the offer you receive is low, the kiosk will accept and recycle it.
How Does EcoATM Work?
ecoATM works by offering instant cash for smart technology that can be reused or recycled. Before deciding whether you want to sell your phone at an ecoATM kiosk, you can get a quote online, have your phone evaluated in person and then accept or reject the offer you receive.
If you’re considering selling or recycling your phone with ecoATM, here’s what you need to know to get started.
Prepare Your Phone
If you’re ready to sell your phone at an ecoATM kiosk, there are a few things you can do to prepare.
Before you leave the house, make sure you delete all of your personal information from the device and turn off the phone’s location services. Remember: If you have any pictures or data that you want to save, be sure to transfer them before wiping the device.
If you’re selling an Apple phone, you can reset your phone by clicking on “Settings,” “General,” then “Reset.” From there, you can tap “Erase all content and settings.” If you have a password on your device, you’ll have to enter it before the phone resets.
Android devices need a factory reset to delete all personal information. While the process varies among Samsung, Google and other Android devices, the basic steps are the same. You can find detailed instructions on ecoATM’s website.
Get a Quote
Once your phone is reset and ready to sell, it’s time to get a quote. You can price your device online to get a general estimate of how much you’ll be offered at the kiosk. Of course, the actual offer you receive may vary.
According to the website, ecoATM prices each phone based on the following factors:
- Specific condition
- Value in the secondary markets
ecoATM kiosks use a vision system, electrical diagnostics and artificial intelligence to determine the best price available. Of course, that means if your phone has water damage or a broken display, it will be worth less. This is also true for older, less popular devices.
When you visit the kiosk, you’ll place your device in the test station. Then, the ecoATM kiosk will examine your device and make an instant offer. Know that you can cancel the process and get your device back at any time. That means if you don’t like the offer you get, you can turn it down.
Get Cash Back
If you do agree to the offer you receive, you’ll get cash on the spot.
After your phone has been accepted and you’ve been paid, your device will either be reused or recycled.
Finding Your Nearest EcoATM
You may walk by an ecoATM kiosk every time you’re at the grocery store whether you’ve noticed it or not. Kiosks are located at Kroger, Walmart and other popular retailers throughout the country.
You’ll be able to see a map with nearby kiosks marked. You’ll also see a list of where kiosks are located including each retailer’s name, address, store hours and a brief description of where the kiosk is located in the store. I saw descriptions such as “cart hallway,” “grocery vestibule,” and “front wall,” for the locations near me.
Once you’ve found a kiosk that’s close by, make sure the store is open and then head that way.
Is EcoATM the Best Place To Sell Your Phone?
The best way to decide where to sell your cell phone is by collecting quotes from a few different places and choosing the one that will offer the most cash back.
I tried this by gathering quotes from six different companies that buy used phones. I looked at offers for an iPhone X in average condition with 64GB of storage on an AT&T network. Here’s what I found in November 2022:
Generally speaking, you aren’t going to find the best prices at ecoATM. If you’re selling a phone in relatively good condition and you have some time to wait for the right buyer, Swappa may be a better option for you. Also be sure to get quotes from BuyBackWorld, NextWorth, Gazelle and Decluttr before making your final decision.
Of course, you will find the fastest payment with ecoATM since you get instant cash back at the kiosk. And if your phone is heavily damaged or unusable, ecoATM is going to be a great option for recycling it with the added bonus of potentially getting a few bucks back. Many other buyback sites, like Swappa, won’t accept cracked or damaged phones.
Tips for Selling Your Phone to EcoATM
If you’re thinking about selling your phone at an ecoATM, here are a few tips to keep in mind to get the most out of the sale:
- Get a quote online before heading to the kiosk. Before driving to a physical kiosk to get an offer for your device, check out the online quote first. You can visit ecoATM’s website and click “Price Your Device” to get an idea of how much ecoATM may offer you. This is a great way to save time on an offer that’s too low or to get an estimate that you can compare to other offers.
- Compare the quote to other buyback programs. Once you have an estimate from ecoATM, compare it to other offers online. Check out secondary markets like Swappa, BuyBackWorld, and Decluttr to get an idea of how much your phone is worth. This is a great way to decide whether or not ecoATM is worth your time.
- Back up and wipe the phone you’re selling. No matter where you decide to sell your phone, it’s important to save any pictures or data that you don’t want to lose. Back your old phone up first and then restore it to factory settings. This will clear all of your personal information.
- Have a valid ID with you. Identification is required for security when you sell your phone at an ecoATM kiosk. According to the website, ecoATM accepts most government or state-issued identification cards except for military IDs, passports and enhanced driver’s licenses.
While the offers are significantly lower on average, ecoATM is a super convenient option that gives you cash back on the spot. Plus, if you have a broken phone or old smart technology that can’t be sold anywhere else, you can at least use ecoATM to recycle it and possibly get a little bit of cash back for your contribution.
If you don’t need instant cash back and have a newer phone in working condition, you’ll likely get a much higher offer by creating a listing on Swappa. No matter where you decide to sell your phone, just be sure to save your data and then restore the device to factory settings. This is a step required by most buyback programs to help protect your privacy.
If you do decide to sell or recycle your phone with ecoATM, you can use the online locator to find a kiosk near you. You can also get a quote online or place your phone directly into a kiosk to get an offer. If you choose to accept it, you’ll get cash back on the spot. Of course, you can always reject the offer and get your phone back at any time.
Do you have experience selling your phone with ecoATM? Let us know in our Clark.com Community!
- May 15, 2023: Updated pricing based on the latest quotes from ecoATM and competitors