If you received a new cellphone during the holidays, don’t just toss the old one in a junk drawer or a shoe box at the back of your closet. There are many ways you can either give your old cellphone new life, or dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way.

Whatever you choose, be sure to remove all of your personal data from the device. Start by backing up your contacts to your SIM card, or to your Google account or Apple ID. Next, save any photos, music, videos or documents you have on the device to an SD card, a computer, or to cloud storage, like Google Photos or iCloud. Then, perform a factory reset to clear any settings you’ve personalized, and restore the phone’s software to its original state.

To factory reset an Android smartphone:

  • Open Settings.
  • Scroll to Backup and Reset.
  • Tap Factory Data Reset.

You may be prompted to enter a pass code, if you’ve set one, to erase your data.

To clear the settings on an iPhone:

  • Open Settings;
  • Scroll to General.
  • Tap Reset.
  • Tap Erase All Content and Settings.

You’ll need to enter your Apple ID and passcode to complete the process.

If your phone is still in good working order, consider passing it on to a friend or family member. You can even add additional lines on your existing Consumer Cellular account for them, and share minutes, text messages, and data from your monthly plan. By simply inserting one of our free SIM cards, the new user can activate your old phone, and just like that, you’re sharing connections.

You can also donate unwanted cellphones. There are a wide variety of organizations to choose from, like Cell Phones for Soldiers, which distributes them to military members serving overseas, or Secure The Call, an organization that accepts used cell phones and then repurposes them as emergency-only devices meant to dial 911 dispatchers.

If ultimately you decide your phone just isn’t in good enough shape to reuse, take a minute to check out recycling resources in your area to avoid having it go to the landfill. You can find help with Earth 911’s local search engine to find the most convenient location. 

Your old phone has been a good companion to you. Even though you may be excited to have a new one, take some time to give this old friend a proper goodbye.


  1. jim spencer says

    Is there no where to sell a slightly used cell phone? I think if there were, more people would be less likely to toss it.

    • Hi Jim, thanks for your question! There are some places that will buy back a gently used, unlocked phone, but the locations would vary depending on where you live. You can also sell them using a third party, online vendor as well. Recycling is a great option for those out of date phones though that no longer works that you don’t want to throw away.

  2. Gary says

    I am on contract for att phone service. Do I have to play this out, or can I get out of it, and switch to yours.

    • Hi Gary, thanks for your post! We don’t have the option to pay off contracts for our customers so you could leave it early, but there may be early termination fees involved, but with our lower prices, we may be able to help balance that cost out for moving forward. Otherwise, another option would be to let it finish up and then switch to our service.

  3. Ann Reynolds says

    Thanks for this valuable information. I love your service.

  4. Shirley says

    I would like to suggest donating old phones to a safe house shelter for battered people. I worked at one and old phones are literally life savers Local police stations can deliver the phone.

  5. Lynne says

    Hi Gary, I was in that same situation when I got mad at AT&T because they continued to charge me $10/month extra for my tablet data when it died (I got it free with my Samsung Galaxy S7). I paid off the phone (around $700 if I remember) and switched over to Consumer Cellular. It was tricky to get it set up but Consumer Cellular was so helpful and it worked. I’ve been with them for about 4 years now and the switch was so worth it. I went from about $175/month to around $40/month (2 phones). I love Consumer Cellular.

  6. Victoria M Starkey says

    What about how to recycle a flip phone? What steps should I do first?

    • Excellent question, Victoria. What I would recommend is doing a master reset or a master clear, depending on the phone you’re using, and then you can bring it to a location that recycles phones to get rid of it. That way, any and all of your information is cleared from the phone before doing this.

  7. NANCY ROSA says

    Hi Jacob, l will like to know if u guys have Covered to Puerto Rico. nd all Over the Stated. ? I have a Galaxy # 4 its been with me 5 years. Its very Old, but l take care of him Alot. Just let me know, God Bless

    • Hi Nancy, thanks for your post. We do offer service in Puerto Rico and throughout the United States. If you’d like, you can get a better idea of our coverage by visiting our coverage map here. If your Galaxy phone is unlocked and GSM-compatible, it may work on our network. While we can’t guarantee that all models will be compatible, we’ll do everything that we can to see if we can get it connected with our service.

  8. Jim Rosania says

    Thanks for all your info

  9. Kimberly G. says

    Consumer Cellular is the BEST!! The price & customer service is outstanding!! I’ve been with you for years!! Thanks, Consumer Cellular!! I’m so glad I found you!!

  10. Laura Goodman says

    I am new, My flip phone just arrived, and am currently clearing out all my saved numbers and info/pics and such from my Iphone. I am happy that I was able to keep my current phone number, yay! Anyway, I already paid off the Iphone I have, and my contract with AT&T has expired. 2 yay’s. I am entering everything in my new flip with CC and I will let CC activate my phone on Tuesday.. 3 yay’s. Then I will set up my account.. Thank you CC, for making this easy and less scary than I thought.

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Hi Laura, I’m glad to hear that the switch is going well for you! Thank you for keeping us posted and I hope you enjoy your new phone.

  11. Margaret Dixon says

    I have been with consimer cellular for over 15 years…VERY SATISFIED CUSTOMER!

  12. Krakkerojakk says

    I just ordered the Link (ZTE) flip phone 2 days ago and it should arrive sometime this week. I would like to know if it is 4g/LTE or 3g because At&t plan on shutting down 3g & 2g at end of 2021. Please let me know because on your website it does not tell me. I read about the 2g and 3g shutting down after I ordered.

  13. Robert Milem says

    Hello, I would like to know how the hotspot works on a cellphone and if I have it on my Samsung Galaxy S7 ?
    I only have a 10GB data package and there are times I’m not near a Wi-Fi area, and don’t want to risk using my data plan up but, need to retrieve my messages or emails while I’m away.
    I’m a Federal Security Officer so, it’s important that I don’t lose out on anything important in my profession and any help will be appreciated and I don’t want to increase my bill payment if I can help it. Thank you, and all of you are fantastic. Keep up the great work, I’ve been a long time customer.

    • Hi Robert, I’m happy to help with that question today! The feature is available to enable on your Samsung S7 if you’d like. It would use the data plan to create that hotspot feature for other devices to connect to, but if you’re not using it very often, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about the plan upgrading. Especially for using it for things such as checking your email. If you’d like to get that going, give us a call at 800-686-4460 or chat with us here.

  14. Carolyn Gooch says

    I purchased a Moto G7 Power from Target. After activation it only had “Spoty” coverage. Perhaps you can luck up and make a call or receive one. After three calls and waiting between 20 to 50, no one could help me. One young lady said she would send me a SIM card. After deciding to try again the next day, I was blessed to get Nia on the phone who said there was a problem with the 4G and 5G smartphones and new exactly what to do. Perhaps as a suggestion share this type of information with the other reps or accessable as a “How to”.



    • Hi Carolyn, we appreciate you taking the time to post your experience to the blog. We will be following up on this with all of our agents for more training so that we don’t have that happen again in the future moving forward. Thanks and have a great day!

  15. Ella says

    Do you sell phone cases for your flip phones? My husband has arthritis in his hands and needs a non-slippery surface to grip the phone.

    • Great question Ella, we do sell a combo pack for our flip phones that would come with a case and a car charger for it! You can order it by giving us a call at 888-548-6490 or by going online to your account here. If that the case we offer isn’t quite what you’re looking for, you can also look through third-party sellers for one as well.

  16. Earlene S Talley says

    is the iPhone the only phone you can face time

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      That’s a great question, Earlene. FaceTime is a service unique to Apple products only. However, there are other video calling applications available, such as Skype or Google Hangouts. Those can be used between any Android smartphones and Apple iPhones.

  17. Janice says

    Question: I’ve had CC for several yrs now & really enjoy it. Over yrs, I’ve replaced phones b/c something important no longer worked properly. If I can’t donate non-workable phones to organizations you list, or even to a friend I have who desperately needs one, to what organization can I give mine? Thanks.

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Hi Janice, if you have old phones that you want to donate to charitable organizations or to a friend in need, you can certainly do that. First, we recommend getting the unlock codes for the phones because they would likely still be locked to our service. This can be done by calling us at 888-345-5509 or by chatting here. We don’t have a list of organizations to provide, but we recommend checking locally to see if there are any in your area that are in need of cell phone donations.

  18. Chris Klow says

    Great information. You can sell old and Outdated Business phone to Telecom Recycle and get a fair amount in return.

  19. Alice says

    Just want to reiterate that donating phones no longer needed to a women’s shelter is a very helpful way of re-purposing.
    Also, I have mailed old phones to
    They go to overseas troops, so they can communicate cost-free with their loved ones.