Swappa Review 2024: A Legit Site to Sell Used Phones & Tech

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Swappa offers a simple selling platform for consumers to trade-in unwanted phones and other tech. With higher offers and lower fees than what you'll find on eBay, you're likely to get top dollar on an assortment of devices.

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I loathe selling things online. Even though it’s a popular side hustle, it’s not my favorite thing to do. It takes forever to take pictures of the item, I despise negotiating with people, and it takes way too long to get paid.

That’s why I’ve stopped trying to sell things online, especially high-end electronics like phones and computers.

Recently, though, I heard about Swappa. This site helps buyers find reputable phones, tablets, and other items, and makes selling these items easier and faster. But is Swappa the best place to sell an old phone or outdated laptop?

What Is Swappa?

Swappa screenshot

Swappa is a site for selling cell phones, laptops, watches, tablets, video games, cameras, and smart home devices.

Sellers upload photos of the item they want to sell, pick the brand, choose the models and any other details, and then create an account.

Unlike similar sites like BuyBack Boss, sellers create a listing so individual buyers can purchase the item directly. Other services require that you send in the device to the company, who lists it on the site themselves.

Sellers are paid via PayPal. You must connect your PayPal account when you create a listing. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to list your item.

Free Zero Listing Fees Free to list and sell your device.
DollarSprout Rating Trusted by buyers and sellers.

Swappa is a site for selling cell phones, laptops, watches, tablets, video games, cameras, and smart home devices. Similar to eBay, you list your device on the website and sell it to an individual seller. Fees are built into your selling price, so you don't pay additional charges. By selling directly to the buyer, you can potentially make more money using Swappa than similar apps.

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  • Can earn more than other sites
  • High customer reviews
  • Can sell directly to individual
  • Local pick-up option


  • Can’t sell directly to the site
  • May have to wait a while for buyer
  • No pre-paid shipping label
  • Have to wait for Swappa to approve listing

Is Swappa Safe and Legit?

Swappa is safe to use for buyers because the site verifies each transaction and prohibits vendors from posting broken devices. Buyers and sellers use PayPal for payments, which keeps information secure. PayPal also protects both the buyer and seller in case there are any problems.

Sellers aren’t supposed to list the device’s serial or identification number before it’s sold. This is done to protect the seller.

Swappa is available as an app on the Google Play store, but it’s not available in the Apple App Store. The Swappa app has a 3.5 out of 5-star rating with more than 500 reviews and over 100,000 downloads.

On Trustpilot, Swappa has a 4.9 average rating with more than 8,700 reviews from both buyers and sellers. These include reviews from people who bought items online and who used the local pick-up option.

Swappa has a B rating from the BBB with more than 500 reviews. On Reddit, buyers appreciate that Swappa verifies the apparent accuracy of listings. People who have sold phones and other devices through Swappa also tend to leave positive reviews on Reddit.

“Is Swappa legit?” isn’t a question you have to ask. Buyers and sellers have positive feedback and can verify that using Swappa is a positive experience.

How Does Swappa Work?

Swappa is one of the most popular places to buy a used phone or other device, but it has some specific rules that new sellers may not be aware of.

how to sell on swappa infographic

Buy and sell directly (no middleman).

If you sell on Swappa, you’ll have to choose the brand, type, carrier, color, storage, edition, and price of your device. While Swappa suggests a price based on current and previous sales, you’re allowed to increase or decrease it.

Swappa also shows how much you’ll pay in PayPal fees when you sell the item, which helps you avoid unexpected fees. When deciding the price, make sure to factor in the cost of shipping and handling. If you don’t have any boxes or bubble wrap, get an estimate of how much that will cost and include it in the final price.

After deciding the rate, you’ll need to write a short headline and brief description of the item. Make sure to detail any problems, issues, defects, or other flaws. Swappa will ask for verified pictures as proof that the item is yours and in the condition you say it is.

Because you have to sell to a buyer directly, it may take longer to get your item sold on Swappa than on sites like Gazelle, Decluttr, or BuyBack Boss. These other sites buy your phone directly, while Swappa requires that you sell the phone to an individual.

Related: 11 Best Places to Sell Your Phone (Highest Payouts)

Swappa reviews every listing.

To avoid spam, Swappa reviews listings before they’re published. This means they won’t be published immediately like they would if you sold an item on eBay or Craigslist.

Unlike those sites, the phone or other device you’re selling must be in working condition. You can’t sell a device for parts. If you have a malfunctioning phone or tablet, try selling it on eBay instead.

Thankfully, it only takes a few hours for them to review and approve your listing. If it’s not approved within a day, send a note to their customer support team to find out why. Sometimes it might be as simple as needing to provide more details about the device before the listing can be posted.

Swappa’s fees are built in.

swappa and ebay fees comparison

Sellers don’t pay any direct Swappa fees; instead, they’re built into the price. Compared to eBay, sellers and buyers pay fewer fees.

Here is how Swappa’s current schedule of fees compares to eBay’s:

Sold Price Swappa Fee (buyer pays) eBay Fees (seller pays)
$0 to $50 $0 Up to $5
$51 to $100 $5 Up to $10
$101 to $300 $10 Up to $30
$301 to $500 $15 Up to $50
$501 to $700 $20 Up to $70
$701 to $999 $25 Up to $99
$1,000 to $1,999 $35 Up to $199
$2,000 to $2,999 $50 More than $200
$3,000 to $3,999 $100 More than $300
$4,000 to $4,999 $150 More than $400
$5,000 to $5,999 $200 More than $500
$6,000 to $6,999 $250 More than $600
Fees are accurate as of September 2020.

Receive payment via PayPal.

Buyers have to pay for items through PayPal and unlike eBay, the buyer has to pay immediately when they purchase a device. The seller has to send the package within two business days, which starts once the payment has been successfully completed.

The only time this can be confusing is if your PayPal account has a hold on it. This often occurs because it’s a new account and PayPal needs more information from you. If there’s a hold on your account and the buyer has paid, you’re still required to ship the item.

Pay for shipping and send your package.

Unlike other sites, Swappa sellers are completely responsible for packaging and shipping the item. Swappa requires that sellers ship the item two business days after being paid, but the seller can choose which shipping provider (USPS, FedEx, UPS, etc.) they use as long as they provide a tracking number.

If you sell an item on a Saturday or Sunday and are paid the same day, you won’t have to worry about shipping it on the weekend.

Because Swappa doesn’t provide a prepaid shipping label, sellers may have to manually add the tracking number.

Sellers can also offer Express Shipping to buyers, who can pay an extra fee to have the item shipped the same or next day (including Saturdays, but not Sundays). Sellers can choose a flat rate for express shipping.

Sellers who offer Express Shipping must ship items via one of the following methods:

  • USPS: Priority Express
  • UPS: Next Day Air Saver
  • FedEx: Standard Overnight

Note that prices for Express Shipping will vary depending on how far you’re shipping the item. For example, if you live in New York and are sending a device to Connecticut, it will cost less than if you’re mailing it to Wyoming. Also, note that different providers charge various rates. It helps to compare rates so you can choose the least expensive option.

Additional Swappa Features

Swappa has some extra options that set it apart from its competitors.

Swappa Local

For those wondering how Swappa Local works, it’s a simple process, and choosing to sell items locally means users can save on Swappa shipping fees. However, it also may be a little less convenient since you have to meet up with someone in person. Buyers can pay via Stripe or PayPal when buying from a local seller. You can also opt to be paid in cash.

Swappa has a local pick-up option for major cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. Other cities like Denver, Baltimore, and Kansas City are also Swappa-approved spots. If your city isn’t listed, you can submit a written request for Swappa to add them.

Swappa support

Customer reviews of Swappa say that support is fast, communicative, and aims to resolve problems quickly. Plus, since buyers pay with PayPal, they’re covered under PayPal protection.

Even in the comments where users say they had a problem with a Swappa phone, they say that the customer service department was very fast in resolving the problem.

Direct communication

Swappa’s communication is similar to eBay’s. If a potential buyer has a question, they can leave a comment directly on the listing. The seller will be notified via email and have the chance to respond to the query.

This also means other potential buyers will be able to see the question and answer, which prevents multiple buyers from asking the seller the same question. It also keeps a record of answers in case the buyer receives the item and claims it’s different than advertised.

Swappa return policy

The Swappa return policy is fairly simple. If the buyer receives the item and says that it’s different from the listing, they’re allowed to return it and the seller has to refund them. Swappa will also refund the buyer fees if the item description omitted defects with the phone or if the item wasn’t in the condition it was advertised in.

However, if the buyer wants to return an item and doesn’t have a valid reason, the seller can reject their request. If the seller decides to honor the buyer’s return request, they can also decide how much to refund the buyer; it doesn’t have to be for the full amount paid.

Review of Swappa vs eBay vs Gazelle

eBay lets buyers negotiate the price if the seller allows it. You can also create an auction-style listing with eBay, which isn’t available with Swappa. If you list an item on Swappa, then the buyer has to accept that price.

However, they can also leave a comment on the listing asking for a lower price. If the seller adjusts the price, then it will be available to anyone at the new reduced price. This is different from eBay, which allows private offers.

Unlike eBay, Swappa doesn’t charge any seller fees. If you sell through eBay, you’ll have to pay fees to eBay and PayPal while Swappa only charges PayPal fees.

Gazelle works differently from Swappa. With Gazelle, you sell the phone or device directly to the site. You also have to accept the price that Gazelle gives you. With Swappa, you decide how much — or how little — to charge.

Here is a table that shows how much you can earn with each of these services:

Device Storage Provider Swappa Gazelle eBay
Samsung Galaxy S9 64 GB Unlocked $219 $111 $217 (general average)
iPhone 7 128 GB AT&T $169 $80 $120 (general average)
iPad Pro 12.9″ 3rd Gen 2018 256 GB Wi-Fi $845 $486 $800 (general average)
Google Pixel 4 64 GB Unlocked $398 $213 $400 (general average)
These estimates are accurate as of September 2020. Your estimate may vary depending on the date and demand.

Related: Gazelle Review: What You Need to Know Before Selling Your Phone

Other Websites Like Swappa

Still not sure where to find a good place to sell your phone? Check out these other sites like Swappa.

Adopt a Phone: This site sells iPhones, Google phones, Samsung devices, and more. They buy both unlocked phones and ones that are tied to specific carriers. Adopt a Phone has a 4.9 out of 5 rating on Facebook with more than 400 reviews. They’re not listed on Trustpilot and have no reviews on BBB.

Whiz Cells: Unlike Swappa, Whiz Cells accepts broken phones and ones with a bad IMEI, which is like your phone’s unique identification number. (A bad IMEI means your phone was reported as lost or stolen.) However, they don’t have the same wide range of devices like Swappa. And although the website layout looks outdated, Whiz Cells has a 4.23 rating on ResellerRatings.com.

MaxBack: You can sell iPhones, Apple Watches, iPads, smartwatches, tablets, and other cell phones on MaxBack. Unlike Swappa, you sell to MaxBack directly instead of an individual. When you get a quote from them, it will remain valid for 30 days. If you send in a device and MaxBack offers a lower amount, you can ask them to send it back for free.

Swappa Review Summary: A Good Option to Sell Your Device

Swappa has some of the best customer reviews of any similar site, with a higher average rating than many of its competitors. They also have more total reviews than similar sites, so the rating isn’t just based on a few potentially skewed reviews.

Because Swappa allows sellers to choose their own price, you can also potentially make more money than if you used a competing site.

One downside to Swappa is that the site doesn’t provide a prepaid Swappa shipping label. This means you have to go into a physical location and purchase a label, and can be frustrating if you don’t have a post office nearby.

Zina Kumok

Hi, I'm Zina! I'm a personal finance expert with a passion for helping millennials figure out their most pressing financial issues. My interest is personal -- I paid off my student loans in three years and have been helping others take control of their finances ever since. My work has been featured in the Washington Post, Fox Business, Time, Quicken Loans, LendingTree, Forbes, Money.com, Mint, and many more.  I currently live in Indianapolis, IN with my husband and two dogs.

Saul Cruz
Saul Cruz

There’s no guarantee you will get paid.

Sold laptop on this site. The pay system Swappa uses is PayPal. PayPal refuses to transfer my funds to my bank. Swappa’s reply was “Not our problem”.

All they care about is getting their cut. After that, they will not help you get paid.

In Swappa’s defense (at least in this particular scenario), this truly is out of their hands. Swappa has no control over PayPal’s practices and cannot force them to pay you out. Obviously we’re not privy to why PayPal is blocking the transfer/disallowing it, but you’d have to share those details for us to help further.

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