8 Things to do Before Selling Your Phone & What is a SIM Card?

Happy New Year! Boy, 2016 was quite a year, wasn’t it? Personally I found it came with some ups and downs, and while I’m not sad to see it go, I’m planning to use the ‘downs’ as learning opportunities to make 2017 a whole lot better. Depending on the person a new year often comes with setting goals, possibly a little reflection, or maybe selling your phone and upgrading to the latest version. I’m personally in no hurry to part with my Samsung Galaxy S7 (I love it more than I love my purse), but I do have a few old smartphones taking up space in my nightstand. Sometimes I like to pass them down to my kids, but recently I started to consider the idea of selling a couple of them since they’re pretty decent devices and I’m sure someone else could get a lot of use out of them. The problem is that I’ve been a little lazy, but mostly I don’t want to just hand over an old phone to someone else without making sure I’ve removed all of my personal files and information. That’s why I’m glad my friends at U.S. Cellular have made it super simple and come up with an important checklist to follow along with a handy graphic to make the process as easy and painless as possible. Do you have a mobile device that you’re thinking about giving away or selling sometime in the near future? If so, this list is for you. Now clean off the dust it’s been collecting (or shine it up if it’s the phone you’re currently using), turn it on, and let’s get started!

What to Do Before Selling Your Phone

8 Things to Do Before Selling Your Phone

  1. Perform a backup to your cloud account. Of all the steps to take when preparing your phone for a new owner, wiping it clean of your personal information is the most important. Start by saving all your photos, files, contacts, and other information to either your Cloud account, computer or external hard drive (or a combination of the three). After you’re certain everything has been backed up, delete it all from your phone and take the added step of emptying the deleted items folder.
  2. Take out the SIM card. Removing the SIM card is very important because it is the external storage for your device. It is the tiny rectangular shaped microSD card that can usually be found near your phone’s battery.
  3. Log out of your email and social media accounts. Make sure you log out of all email, social media, and other personal accounts on the device. This step should remove all data, including your passwords, from those apps.
  4. Disconnect the device from your Cloud account. Once you have backed up all your personal data (Step 1) you’ll want to disconnect the phone from your cloud account. Missing this step would allow the phone’s new owner to access your personal information, so make sure you disconnect and than double check to make sure that you’ve disconnected. 
  5. Delete mobile payment apps. If you’re like me you like to use your bank’s mobile app to keep track of your account balance and maybe do a mobile deposit every now and then. Or you might have an app for your credit card that you use often. While these types of apps make likf a whole more convenient, they need to be removed before handing over your phone to a new owner so they don’t have access to your personal financial information.
  6. Return the phone to factory settings and shut off all services. Whether you choose to upgrade your device, give it away, or sell it, restoring the phone to its original factory settings will delete your personal information.  Just go to the settings feature on your smartphone and the steps should be easy to follow. 
  7. Turn off serviceCall your service provider and simply ask them to remove the device from your account. U.S. Cellular customers can call 1-888-944-9400 and an associate will help with this step. 
  8. Unregister the phone. If the device is registered with Apple by its serial number delete it by logging into supportprofile.apple.com with your Apple ID information. For Android devices simply go to the Google Play store from a computer’s internet browser. Once there click on the gear symbol at the top right-hand corner of the screen and select the Settings option. Deselect the phone from your Google account under the Visibility option. This step will hide certain devices from showing up in the play store when trying to download a new app.

U.S. Cellular’s Device Solution Center

*Bonus Tip: If you happen to be the one purchasing a used phone is to wipe your new-to-you device clean before adding your personal information.  This will guarantee that the phone’s settings, apps, and data are only yours so you can start off on a clean slate. 

If you don’t consider yourself tech savvy or you’re nervous about performing any (or all) of these steps yourself, visit any U.S. Cellular location and an associate will be happy to help you wipe your device. U.S. Cellular has a gadget called the device solution center that can verify all your personal information has been deleted and all accounts have been disconnected. In addition, the device solution center can move your contacts, files, pictures, and other data to your new device, which could be very helpful if you’re not comfortable doing that on your own. 

Are you thinking about selling your phone? If so, do you feel comfortable following these steps yourself or do you think you’d need help?

Disclosure: I’m a compensated member of the U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 




  1. It’s great to know that a company understand the concern of keeping information private. This service is a great benefit to both the consumer & company. No one needs a draw full of old phone collecting dust.
    Cristine recently posted..Moto Racer 4, High Speed Motorbike Racing For FamiliesMy Profile

  2. I need to do more backups anyway even if I don’t plan on selling my phone. Thanks for the reminder!!

  3. All important things to do because you never know where your phone will end up and where your information will end up. It is good to actually remove the sim and to restore to factory settings so it is like a brand new phone.

  4. I would not have known to do a couple of these things. Really good info! I need to do more backups.
    Keikilani recently posted..Cinnamon Brown Sugar Coffee Syrup and Ninja Coffee BarMy Profile

  5. Thank you for this…I am always moving way too fast and doing too many things at once…I had no idea about a few of these tips!

  6. Rebecca Bryant says

    I need a new phone. Mine is worth selling but would love to get a new soon.

  7. This is great advice. I have never sold a phone but now that my kiddos have phones, too, I suspect that I might start. Thanks for the tips.

  8. Claudia Krusch says

    These are smart tips for when you sell your phone. I have been able to see the last few phones when I upgraded.

  9. Wow, thank you for all these great tips. I never knew how to get rid of everything on my old phone before donating it. And I never really understood what a sim card is!!
    Lois Alter Mark recently posted..2017 volkswagen passatMy Profile

  10. Keep the original packaging! We sold both of our 1phone 6 plus phones on ebay (they were just too big) with the original packaging and we got way more for our phones than we expected.
    The apple store would only give us $240 for mine but I sold it for almost $600 🙂

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