How to upgrade to an iPhone 5s or 5c

Apple announced their latest product line today including the iPhone 5C and the iPhone 5S which means it’s time to consider upgrading your old phone.

Info on the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S

The iPhone 5C is a new tier in the Apple line of smartphones. It comes in five colors: green, white, blue, red, and yellow and will cost $99 for a 16GB model or $199 for a 32 GB model, with contracts. The iPhone 5C will go on sale on Sept. 20, with pre-orders starting on Sept. 13.

The iPhone 5S will come in three models: 16 GB for $199, 32GB for $299 and 64GB for $399, with a contract. The phone will go on sale on Sept. 20.

For more on the improved specs, fingerprint scanner (how cool is that?!), and other upgrades read here for the iPhone 5S and here for the iPhone 5C.

Whether you’re due for an upgrade or you plan to upgrade early you can trade in your old iPhone and may actually end up with money in your pocket! Read on for ways you can sell or trade in your old phone.

How to Upgrade your iPhone

Once you own an iPhone upgrading can seem pricey, but that old model phone is far from obsolete. You can sell or trade in your old model and earn money to put towards your purchase.

Trade in at the Apple Store

The Apple store offers trade-in values in store. When you go in to upgrade your phone you can ask to trade in your phone. Apple doesn’t offer the best prices for upgrades, though it is convenient. If you’ve done your research ahead of time you’ll know how much you can get elsewhere for your iPhone and you can make an informed decision on the spot.

Trade in at Amazon offers a trade-in program for iPhones. They will have better rates than the Apple Store. Right now an iPhone 5’s trade in value is $273. Learn more about  the Amazon Trade In Program and find out what your device is worth.

Update: Beginning September 11th Amazon allows you to lock in your trade in price today (currently up to $363.75*) and you don’t have to send in your iPhone until October 10th. Be sure to search not only your model number but also your provider as some options provide lower trade-in values.

GameStop Trade In

It may seem like an odd place, but you can earn more through GameStop than most other places you can trade in. If you want to use your funds towards an in store purchase (Xbox One, perhaps?) you will earn even more. Today’s iPhone value is $405 for in-store credit, or $322.* Learn more at


Gazelle is a mail in service for trading in your used devices. While mailing it in may seem odd, it’s a great way to trade in your old devices because they can include a shipping box and label. I trade in an old iPhone 3GS this way and earned enough to cover my last upgrade. Additionally they are running a contest where one person who trades in their old iPhone will win $1,000,000! Learn more at Keep in mind that you can ‘sell’ your iPhone today and earn $315* but you don’t have to ship it in until mid-October. Plenty of time to buy your new one BEFORE you sell, and you lock in today’s pricing.


eBay is one of the best ways to sell an old iPhone because bids often go much higher than trade in values. We have sold iPhones this way in the past and earned more than our upgrade cost ($250 and $300 respectively). eBay is offering a $50 coupon if you list your phone by September 15th.

Cell Phones for Soldiers

Cell Phones for Soldiers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free communication services to active-duty military members and emergency financial assistance to veterans. Through this new program, supporters can sell an iPhone to Cell Phones for Soldiers and receive payment for the device. Consumers also have the option to donate up to 100% of the phone’s value to Cell Phones for Soldiers and, in addition, receive a tax deductible receipt. This is an easy way to make a large impact on the charity and also receive a benefit, said Cell Phones for Soldiers Co-founder Robbie Bergquist. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. The donor benefits, the charity benefits and most importantly, the Cell Phones for Soldiers iPhone Buyback program will allow the charity to assist more troops and veterans.

How should you sell your phone?

How you sell your phone depends on two factors convenience, and cost. Assuming you’re getting the iPhone 5S and you’re eligible for an upgrade you’ll pay $199 plus the $36 activation fee plus any taxes. If you can float that for a week or more you can earn more for your used phone. For instance, if you choose to ‘sell’ now to a service like Gazelle you can lock in pricing before you buy, but won’t receive a check for 10 days after they receive your phone. You can opt for PayPal funds (which take several days to move from PayPal to your bank account) or Amazon credit as well (they offer an additional 5% above your sale price for this option). If you need the cash to buy your new phone consider GameStop or other local retailers that will accept your iPhone in person.

Should you upgrade?

If you need a new phone, yes. It’s easy to make the cost back if you have an iPhone 4, 4s, or 5, BUT only if you are eligible to upgrade. If you’re not eligible to upgrade you may receive a discount on your new phone, but you’ll pay much more and your trade in or sale won’t cover the cost entirely.

If you’re on the fence, wait. iPhone 5 owners are on a two year cycle that means when you’re eligible you can upgrade to the iPhone 6. Likewise iPhone 4S owners will be eligible for an upgrade now and may take advantage of the S versions as they launch.

For some people the iPhone 5C will be exactly what you need and with a $99 price point it may be worth exploring an upgrade.

Personally I have an iPhone 5, and will I admit I’m tempted by the new iPhone, I am not eligible for an upgrade. I’ll still run the numbers, but most likely I’ll stick with what I have for now.

Will you be upgrading your iPhone or keeping what you have? 


*= the values shared are based on a 16gb iPhone 5 in white

About Kelly

Kelly Whalen is the founder and editor of the Centsible Life blog. She started the blog 6 years ago as her family faced a mountain of debt. The blog became a resource to readers and a hub for everything you need in life for less. Kelly lives in the Philadelphia area with her superhero husband, 4 awesome kids, and one adorable dog. She still believes you can have it all....just not all at once.


  1. jrhammlett says

    I have a 3GS so I’m certainly ready for an upgrade. I won’t trading it in because it really isn’t worth much plus I’ll just use if for my kids to play games on. I’m still undecided on the 5s or 5c though.

  2. Rebeckah Leatherman says

    My husband is super excited about the new phone. I could really care less : ). The 4s has made me very happy. All I need on my phone is a camera and I am good to go.

    • says

      Ha! I get that. If you’re happy with it, no need to upgrade. :) The camera will get better with the new iOS too. That’s what’s kind of cool about smartphone cameras-software can improve the quality of your photos.

  3. Barb @ A Life in Balance says

    I’m waiting to upgrade since I’m not due until July 7, 2014. However, I checked the current appraisal for my iPhone 4. Boy was I happy to see it appraised at $100 when I bought it for $50.

    Thank you for laying out the options for upgrading or selling the phone. I never considered doing either. I just assumed it would sit in my closet.

    • says

      No problem! Make sure to check as you closer to your upgrade date. Our provider usually lets us upgrade early. If you do decide to keep it you can also turn it into an ‘iPod Touch’ by just not activating it. We did that with a 3GS I had that was slightly damaged on the frame (I thought it wouldn’t sell for as much) and my daughter loves having her own ‘phone’.

      • Barb @ A Life in Balance says

        That’s a great idea! My kids have been bugging me for mp3 players. I’ll start checking in May next year to see what I can get for the phone.

  4. Tammi Velez says

    I want to thank you for writing this. I’m an old geezer now, apparently, because I had no idea I could pretty much sell my current phone and pay for the upgrade with the funds. But I just checked and darn tootin’! I can!


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