The Complete Guide To Trading In Or Selling An Older iPhone Model To Upgrade To The iPhone 7 or 7 Plus

By Lauren Keating | Oct 03, 2016 11:10 AM EDT

It could be extremely hard to keep up with Joneses when it comes to consumers getting their hands on the latest iPhone. Unless the consumer has joined Apple's iPhone upgrade program to be able to get a new unlocked iPhone every year, it can get extremely pricey to purchase the new device - just take the $969.99 Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus for example.

Most customers are locked into two-year plans with their carriers and are unable to upgrade for free until it's time for a contract renewal and the device is paid off. T-Mobile customers might pay for the Un-carrier's Jump! program, which for a fee every month, allows them to upgrade to eligible devices throughout the year.

Since Apple typically announces the launch of its new smartphones during a press event in the spring and then in the fall, chances are many customers picked up the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus models. But there are a few ways to be able trade in or sell a 6 or 6s model in order to upgrade to the 7 or 7 Plus.

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Here's your complete guide to doing so.

Apple Upgrade Program

One of the easiest ways to trade in an old model for a newer iPhone is to take advantage of the Apple Upgrade Program. This program allows customers to finance the phone (for as low as $32.41 per month), interest-free. The smartphone comes unlocked so that the customer can use it with any carrier and has AppleCare+ protection.

Think of it as Apple loaning the iPhone to you though, because after one year, you can upgrade to the newest model. That means even you have to trade in the phone for a new phone. Those who don't want to wait a full year can upgrade early with an "advance payment" at the six-month mark.

While this might sound like a good deal, it's essentially the same as getting the iPhone 7 through a carrier plan. Still, when it comes to trading in an iPhone, using the iPhone Upgrade Program is probably the best. While the monthly payments aren't so cheap, you do get a new unlocked iPhone every year, with Apple's customer service and protection.

Carrier Trade-Ins

If you don't want to go to the Apple route, all the the major carriers offer trade-in programs to its customers.

But out of all the carriers, T-Mobile makes it the easiest with its Jump! and Jump! On Demand programs. The Jump program is a 24-month payment plan that lets you upgrade to a newer device after you pay off half of the phone's cost. The Jump! On Demand program is for 18 months and allows you to upgrade three times a year, whenever you want.

The only downside to JUMP! is that you can't sell your current phones since they aren't really owned until completely paid off. To pay off the phone to sell it in the future makes paying for a Jump! program a waste of money.

T-Mobile also offered a free 32 GB iPhone 7 to those who traded in their iPhone 6, 6s, or 6s Plus during the new device's preorder window. The Un-Carrier also offers customer $300 in credits when trading in an older device.

AT&T customers aren't so lucky when it comes to trading in their device. You will have to start a payment plan, which will be around $27 per month for 24 months. If you trade in your old device when signing up for a plan at AT&T, the carrier says it will give a $300 gift card depending on which model and what condition it is in.

Sprint also offered a trade in program during iPhone 7 preorders, but now customers will have to settle for a $27 payment plan. Keep in mind that carriers also charge an activation fee for turning the device on, which is important to remember even if you purchase an unlocked model after buying and selling somewhere else.

eBay And Other Online Services

If you have already paid off or purchased an older model like the iPhone 6 or 6s, another route is to sell it online to get money back in order to buy the iPhone 7.

Since there have been global shortages on the Jet Black models, these (and the Matte Black) are easily being listed on eBay for over a thousand dollars. While you won't get that much for a Rose Gold iPhone 6 or 6s, these models can get eBay sellers anywhere from $250 to $800 depending on the model and storage.

The best way to see how much you can get for your phone is to search for your model on the site in the sold listings to see what it generally goes for.

Just make sure that the phone is a good condition with as minimal scratches and other damage done to it as possible. It also helps to have the original box and all the accessories. Go for the gold if the box to this phone has never even been unsealed.

There is also another website called Gazelle that lets customers buy pre-owned phones or sell their current ones for cash. After answering a few questions, the user is asked to ship the device to Gazelle, which will then pay them via PayPal, a check, fit cards or on Amazon.

The bad news is that you just might not get as much back as you'd like. For example, a 128 GB T-Mobile iPhone 6 that is in "good" condition will give you $142 back. A "flawless," unlocked 128 GB iPhone 6s Plus will get you $325.

Then again, you could always sell your iPhone on Craigslist to get cold, hard cash. The risk here is that Craigslist in general can be shady, with the user never knowing who they are about to meet in person.

In-Store Options

If you don't mind visiting your local Apple Store, there is the option to trade in your iPhone 6, 6s or Plus models in-store. With Apple's iPhone trade-up program, you can get store credit that can be applied to that iPhone 7 Plus purchase. An iPhone 6 can get a customer up to $225, whereas an iPhone 6 Plus will get you $250. The 6s can get you as much as $275, and the 6s Plus, $315.

Best Buy also offering trade-in offers, but the customer is only getting a store gift card for doing it this way, so it might not be the best option.

Photo: Yanki01 | Flickr

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