How to Sell Your Old Gadgets on Craigslist

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Chances are, you have some old gadgets lying around your house you no longer use. Why not get some money for them? Craigslist is one of the best places to sell your unused junk, and you can pretty much list anything you want on there. When it comes to selling your gadgets for the best price possible, though, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Depending on where you live, a certain item may or may not be in high demand. Sometimes, certain things sell really quickly and other times sellers are sitting there twiddling their thumbs waiting for inquiries to trickle in. Whatever might be the case, it’s important to create the best listing possible so that you can hopefully sell your old gadget not only quickly and easily, but for the highest price possible.

First: Should You Use Craigslist to Begin With?

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There are definitely a lot of people who avoid Craigslist, or at least approach it with caution. It certainly can be a questionable avenue to go down, as there’s no kind of buyer protection whatsoever, and the risk of getting scammed or robbed is certainly there.

eBay is probably the next best option, as it lets you sell pretty much anything. eBay has a much wider outreach, but the website takes a chunk of your sales as a fee for using its service which Craigslist does not. Plus, you have to hassle with shipping whatever you’re selling to the buyer.

This is why larger items that would be a hassle to ship–like furniture, TVs, or larger gadgets like computer monitors–are great for selling on Craigslist.  But that doesn’t mean it can’t still be great for smaller items, like phones and laptops, too. It’s just about seeing if there’s a bigger market for your item on one site or the other. Search around and see which site has more similar items to the one you’re selling, and what kinds of prices they’re going for.

Lastly, if you’re looking to sell a broken gadget–which, by the way, is a great way to make a little bit of money after something dies–we’ve found that it’s a lot easier to sell broken stuff on eBay than it is on Craigslist. eBay’s wider reach and popularity with tinkerers just makes it more likely you’ll sell it for a decent price. There’s always plenty of buyers scouring eBay looking for broken tech that they can eventually fix up themselves.

With all that in mind, if you’ve decided Craigslist is the right place to sell your item–or you want to give it a shot before resorting to eBay–here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Find Out What Your Item Is Worth

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Before you even go to list something on Craigslist, you should know what your gadget is worth. Not only do you want to make the most amount of money possible, but you also don’t want to drive people away with a price that’s way too high.

Checking out other Craigslist listings related to your item can give you a general idea of what other people are selling for, and it can be a great way to price your old gadgets competitively. But, it doesn’t necessarily tell you what those items are selling for–just what people are currently listing them for.

To that end, we also recommend checking out eBay, Swappa, and other online marketplaces to see what your specific item generally sells for. Sometimes, they’ll sell for more on those sites than they would on Craigslist–but keep in mind those those seller fees that take a percentage of your sale. In general, though, searching prices on a few sites in addition to Craigslist should give you a pretty good idea of what your item is worth.

Leave Room for Negotiation with a Slight Markup

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Once you’ve figured out what your old gadget is worth, add a slight markup to that price to make room for negotiating. Everyone on Craigslist is looking to negotiate, and if you build that into your price–similar to how dealerships do this for cars–you’re more likely to get what you want for the item. That way, the buyer thinks he got a good deal by haggling, but you’re still happy since you got what you wanted for it.

For example, if you would be happy to get $100 for an old smartphone, list it at $125 or so, and the buyer can negotiate it down if he or she chooses to. You can even negotiate back and sweeten the pot by offering to deliver or meet closer to where they live if you want to get top dollar for something, or vice versa–I’ve been known to drop the price on something if the buyer is willing to come pick it up or meet closer to where I live. Plus, if you’re patient, there’s even a good chance someone will eventually come along and pay your marked up price without negotiating.

If, however, you don’t get any bites after a couple of weeks, it’s probably time to lower your listing price to stay competitive.

Take the Time to Make a Detailed–and Honest–Listing

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Perhaps the number one rule when listing anything on Craigslist is to be honest. No one benefits from you lying or leaving out information when it comes to your listings–you’ll both walk away disappointed.

If you’re selling a smartphone, for example, give a detailed description of its specs, model number, any and all damage to the phone or its buttons. You might get away with not mentioning some aspects of the item, hoping that the buyer doesn’t notice, but it’s generally not worth risking.

On a similar note, make sure your listing has good quality photos. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen a listing on Craigslist that’s one sentence long, with no information, and grainy useless photos. When I come across listings like this, I move right along, and so do many other potential buyers.

It’s gotten to the point that I’m actually surprised to come across a listing that has decent photos and a detailed, honest description. Taking the time to create a great listing means that more potential buyers will be interested.

Lastly, clean your item up a bit and make it look pretty. Of course, you shouldn’t necessarily hide any imperfections (like damage and such), but at least dust it off or get rid of any stains, smudges, nicks, etc. before you take photos of it. A little cleaning goes a long way into making your gadget look great. Having the original box and accessories helps too, though it isn’t imperative.

Watch Out for Scams

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While it may seem that buyers are more prone to being scammed, it can also happen to sellers as well. There are plenty of people out there looking to pull a fast one on you.

A popular scam is if a buyer offers you more money than what you’re asking for it, but requests that you send the difference back to them. Usually they’ll give you a check and then after you cash it, you’ll give the rest back to them, but the check will eventually bounce and you’ll be on the hook for the full amount.

Another way to tell if it’s a scammer contacting you is if they text you and mention your item’s listing title in full detail. If you see:

BRAND NEW Beats By Dre PowerBeats 2 Wireless, Black – $120 (Hillcrest) still available pls?

Instead of:

Hey do you still have the beats for sale?

That usually means it’s a bot that’s mass-texting a bunch of Craigslist sellers hoping to find a few to scam. If you respond, they’ll almost certainly come back asking to send you money via Western Mutual, and for you ship the product to their cousin at some address.

In fact, any time a buyer wants to give you money other than cash, it’s likely a scam. Avoid shipping products, too–some shipping requests may be legitimate, but you have zero protection like you do with eBay. (And if you wanted to go through the hassle of shipping, you’d sell it on eBay anyway.)

Overall, it’s pretty easy to sniff out a fake or a scam–you just have to be on the lookout. Just make sure buyers are local and that you only accept cash.

If You Can, Meet in a Public Place

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Perhaps one of the best tips for selling (or buying) anything on Craigslist is to meet in a public place. This can be a parking lot or even inside of a coffee shop–just make sure that there are other people around and that it’s well lit. Being in the line of sight of security cameras also help.

There are a number of reasons why you should do this, number one being that it prevents you from getting robbed or other funny business from happening. It also prevents people from knowing where you live, which really isn’t a huge deal, but it means that if you sell something, you know the buyer won’t come knocking on your door because the item eventually broke or he needs help with it or something.

If you can’t meet in a public place because you’re selling a large item that you can’t simply throw in your car and go, then at least meet in your driveway or garage and don’t let the buyer come inside. You could even set up your phone and record video of the transaction for some extra security, if you want.

Cash Only

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We mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating: never accept any form of payment besides cash. A check can bounce, and any form of online payment, like PayPal, can give the buyer the opportunity to protest and say that they never received the item, allowing PayPal to offer the buyer a refund.

In addition, if you’re selling a product that requires a test drive where they take the item away from you–like a car–require cash in hand before they do so, that way if they wreck it or decide to steal it, you’ll at least have the cash from the sale.

If you request cash in hand, the buyer may want something in return as well, such as the title, in case you decide to run off with the cash, but that’s completely up to you as far as how you want to handle it.


In the end, it’s not that hard to sell anything on Craigslist, and it’s one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get rid of your old stuff. Plus, Craigslist isn’t that scary, and while you could come across someone looking for a five-finger discount, those people are few and far between–most people are just looking for a new coffee table at a good price. Be cautious and keep your wits about you, and you’ll be fine.

Image Credit Neo_II/Flickr, sylvar/Flickr, Vasile Cotovanu/Flickr

Craig Lloyd writes about smarthome for How-To Geek, and is an aspiring handyman who loves tinkering with anything and everything around the house. He's also a mediocre gamer, aviation geek, baseball fan, motorcyclist, and proud introvert.

  • Published 09/2/16
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