It always used to be that if you wanted a new phone, you either went and bought one at retail, or you might be able to negotiate an upgrade with your carrier. However, there was always the question of what to do with your existing phone.

Traditionally, you’d either just keep it, sell it on eBay, or maybe see if a family member wanted it. However, these days, there’s another option and it might be pretty compelling – selling it to your carrier for a credit.

All the major carriers offer trade-in deals, whether it’s to buy a new handset, or just to get rid of an old one for a credit on your current service. The conditions vary a bit between the carriers (as do the prices paid), but by and large the process is the same.

Here’s how to do it.


To be eligible for a trade-in with Telstra, you must be a Telstra consumer or small business customer aged 18 or over and have a post-paid service with Telstra.

The process itself is pretty simple:

  1. Sign in to the My Telstra service (either on your web browser or using Telstra’s app)
  2. Access your Services tab, then find your post-paid mobile number. Click that, and then click “Got an old device?”
  3. Complete a quick online assessment to determine the value of your phone. If it’s of interest for a trade-in, Telstra will then provide instructions to return your phone to Kingfisher (Telstra’s trade-in service provider) for a credit.
  4. Within 60 days, you’ll receive a credit on your bill.

While trade-in prices vary based on the age, condition and desirability of your phone, we ran the same phone through all three carriers – an iPhone 11 Pro 64GB in Space Gray.

Telstra offered up to $725 to trade in such a phone, and that’s pretty good – trading it in via Apple direct (which also offers a trade-in service) would only get you up to $690.

Telstra’s process seems pretty straight forward, but there’s two small caveats- you can’t do a trade-in when you sign up. Instead, if you’re not already a Telstra customer, you’d have to sign up and complete the trade-in process afterwards.

Not such a bad idea, though, as it gives you time to copy old data off your old phone and onto your new one before sending it back!

The other gotcha is that Telstra don’t appear to offer this service as an in-store deal; you have to do it online.


By comparison, Optus will allow you to trade in online, by phone or in an Optus store. It’s open to both new and existing customers, and it’s pretty straight forward too.

  1. Get your old device ready to go – copy your data off and wipe it.
  2. Get an instant quote on Optus’ trade in website.
  3. If you do it online or by phone, Optus will send you a satchel to complete your trade in. If you’re in store, you can hand it in over the counter.
  4. You’ll see a credit on your Optus bill within one to two months (depending on where you fall in the billing cycle).

Technically, to do a trade-in as a new customer, you have to complete the plan sign-up first, but seeing as you can do both the sign-up and trade-in in store as part of effectively the same transaction, it’s a minor point.

Optus offers $670 for the iPhone 11 Pro 64GB, and quite a bit less if it’s in poor condition. We’ve assumed – above and below – that the hypothetical iPhone 11 Pro 64GB is in good condition, powers on, and has no scratches, nicks or dents.


Vodafone’s trade-in process is broadly the same as the above, but with a cool feature – you can download an app to your phone to trade in, and it’ll help assess the value for you.

Broadly, you can check for a quote online on the Vodafone website, download the trade-in app, back-up and wipe your device and send it off.

The good news is that you can do it in-store when signing up as a new customer, or as an existing customer. You can also trade-in by phone.

There’s no online trade-in process though, so you’re going to have to talk to someone.

Vodafone’s trade-in pricing is $700 for an iPhone 11 Pro 64GB which is squarely middle of the road pricing.

Even better is that Vodafone will let you trade in a phone once every 12 months (or, if you’re buying a new phone at the same time, you can trade-up twice in 12 months).

If you’re a longer term Vodafone customer, this is a good way to get a credit each year on your bill by getting rid of an older phone.

What if you can’t get a trade-in?

While you can usually get a trade-in offer for most recent and semi-recent phones, there are some where it’s simply not viable to offer you cash for an old phone.

Put simply, if it can’t be resold for much (or anything), or its damaged, it mightn’t be worth very much to anyone else. In those cases, you’re probably better off just recycling your phone – you’re not going to get much money for it (if anything at all).

Especially if you’ve tried a trade-in and can’t get anything for your phone, you might want to consider a service like Mobile Muster.

Recycling your phone through Mobile Muster is free (as you’d probably expect) and allows some components to be recycled or reused, and the parts that can’t to be thoughtfully disposed of.

You can recycle through Mobile Muster through any Telstra, Optus or Vodafone store, through Officeworks or a good number of other stores (such as op shops, council depots, libraries and more). If that doesn’t work for you, you can pick up a satchel at most post offices and send your phone back for free as well.

Have you traded in a phone and had a good experience? A bad experience? One you’d like to tell us about one way or another? Let us know!