Swappa Review: Selling Used Republic Wireless Moto E Phone

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I set up a cell phone line with Republic Wireless (RW) in October 2014 for my parents, but they eventually chose to switch over to used iPhones. This meant we had to move off of Republic Wireless and sell their Moto E phone as it wasn’t compatible with their new carrier. As I had heard some good things about buying and selling phones on a new marketplace called Swappa.com, I decided to try them out.

Republic Wireless requires special software on their phones enable their WiFi-calling features, which means that RW users either need to buy a new phone directly from them or buy a used RW-modified phone on the secondary market. You can find phones on cellular forums, eBay, and Craiglist, but it can be a headache to deal directly with individual people with no intermediary assistance.

Here are some highlights of selling on Swappa:

  • Similar to eBay, Swappa is a connecting marketplace. The seller is still taking payment directly from an individual buyer.
  • Swappa relies on PayPal to provide certain protections. Seller gets paid before shipping. Swappa does not provide any escrow-type service.
  • Users can link eBay account ratings to encourage trust from prospective buyers.
  • No listing fee. No fee to cancel listing, as long as it hasn’t sold yet.
  • No seller fee (technically) but there is a $10 sale fee. If the list price is $100, then the seller gets $90 and Swappa gets $10. Featured listings are extra.
  • Standard shipping is also included in the list price, paid by buyer. So that’s another $6 to $7.
  • Depending on your PayPal account, you may have to pay transaction fees at PayPal.

Here’s a brief overview of the selling experience:

  • Your device must meet their requirements (fully functional, clean ESN, and no outstanding financial obligations).
  • You must provide a valid ESN to avoid “bad” phones with blacklisted ESNs. ESNs are kept private from buyers until sold.
  • You must upload a picture with your phone and any accessories, including a handwritten note of your listing number. I just used another smartphone to take a picture and was done in minutes.
  • Depending on the situation, you may have to provide additional verification pictures. I had to provide a photo that included the ESN screen of my phone.
  • You can see the historical selling price of the phone, and then set your own price.

According to their historical charts, the average selling price was $70. I was more interested in a fast sale, so I listed my phone for $65. Here was the pricing history for the Moto E (1st Gen):


It sold within 6 hours of listing, and was paid via Paypal immediately. I bought our Moto E for $99 brand new in October 2014. My net was $65 – $10 fee to Swappa – $7 shipping = $48. That worked out to a phone depreciation rate of just $3.20 a month. For comparison, the 2nd generation Moto E is currently $129 new and is running about $85 used on Swappa.

In general, as a seller, I was very satisfied with the process. I could have probably sold for roughly the same price on eBay, maybe eeking out a couple more bucks, but I felt the listing process was faster at Swappa. The $10 sale fee may be a little more than the 10% fee that eBay charges on a cheap phone, but much less than eBay charges on an expensive phone (ex. 10% of $400 would be $40). There was a little confusion in the beginning regarding my ESN, but the online support from the staff was prompt and courteous. I would sell my phone using Swappa again.

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  1. Nice Jonathan. Good to know. I switched over to selling my used Apple products on Gazelle for a similar reason. It’s so much less hassle than dealing with eBay. What carrier did your parents end up going with?

  2. Bob Don says

    I’ve sold several phones and ‘item’s via swappa. Never had an issue ever. WAAAAYYYY better than ebay !

  3. Dave Lewis says

    I just purchased previously owned iPhone 6 for my wife on Swappa, and had a very good experience. Good price, good condition and prompt handling! I was quite discriminating about which offer to take, but have sure appreciated the results: Excellent phone, fair price — I’d use Swappa again if I was in the market

  4. Agreed, I’ve sold and bought 10 or so devices on Swappa and never had a bad experience. I think the focused audience helps increase the odds you’ll get good buyers and sellers.

    My only significant problem with Swappa is that they opened up their site to companies, so there can be a lot of generic listings where one company has 50 phones in a specific quality-class with generic quality-based descriptions instead individual listings for a single phone with pictures and descriptions of that specific phone. I don’t have any interest in buying a phone from a pool of phones, so these listings just clog up the listings when I’m browsing.

    For buying, Swappa’s the best if you’re concerned about knowing exactly what quality issues you’re committing to on a used phone. For selling, it seems like one of the lower risk options. Amazon (with Amazon fulfilling the shipment so it can be shipped “prime”) can sell at a bit higher price since you’ll catch some impulsive buyers who don’t want the unpredictable shipping speed from Swappa.

  5. 65 – 10 – 7 = 48, no?

  6. How does protection work with Swappa? What if the buyer says he/she wants to return?

    • Swappa tries to stay out of things, they are technically only connecting individual buyers and sellers. You have to use PayPal, so you are subject to PayPal Buyer Protections. You do have the Swappa feedback system, but there are many new users with no feedback (such as myself).

      • Jonathan,

        Personally I’m more concerned about the selling side. eBay/PayPal combination will push the phone back down the seller’s throat at the first buyer’s complaint. Wonder if Swappa/PayPal combination is at least not as biased.

  7. I had a bad experience buying a iPhone from swappa. I paid the money to the seller, but never got the phone. I complained to swappa, but they said they could do nothing about it and suggested I contact paypal, which I did and finally the seller refunded my money. I think paypal put some pressure on him. for buying you don’t get much protection.

    • Or, rather, you get only the protection that Paypal offers you. Sounds like that worked out well in your case.

      Did Swappa refund the $10?

      • I think they did, I don’t remember. I think I got lucky. what if the seller didn’t refund the money? what can paypal do? it’s not something I would depend on especially with an expensive product. I have bought and sold through ebay for years without one problem. Also bought used on amazon with no issues.

        • Ninety-nine percent of the time, paypal is on the buyer side. For another level of protection, use credit card to fund your paypal payment. If paypal doesn’t help, contact the credit card company.

  8. Bought a used Galaxy S5 on Swappa and had a very positive experience. Got lucky and ended up with a nearly mint phone. My only minor peeve is how they boast you can “Sell with no fees”, which as you note isn’t really true. Doesn’t matter whether they pretend the buyer or seller pays the fees, they take a cut of what the seller would end up with. It’s fair, jut not “no fees”.

  9. Stuart Weissman says


    I just sold two iPhone 5s phones on Swappa for $195 each when Verizon was offering me $87. Thanks for the tip. Great experience. My only complaint is that there really aren’t enough quality rankings for the phone. My two phones were near mint, but it’s either New, Mint (which will never be the case) and then good.

  10. Rodolphe says

    I already contacted the seller TSG Wholesale for that transaction 3 weeks ago, because I am not satisfied with this order. I don’t think the phone was actually new as stated on the add, because the plastic protections have been removed and put back in place several times. Plus the needle to insert the SIM card was missing from the package. I couldn’t put my SIM in place and actually use the phone. The charger is too hot. I have no answer from the seller.

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