What You Should Know About Buying a CPO Phone

Mar 23, 2021

The phrase "pre-owned” can conjure up thoughts of shady car dealers foisting lemons onto an unexpecting public. Many consumers feel the same way about pre-owned phones. Smartphones have become a significant purchase, and it’s important to know that you are getting a reliable device.

On average you can save over $100 when you opt for a refurbished phone instead of a new model. Consumer Reports polled owners of pre-used phones and found that 82% of them were highly satisfied with their device. Chances are you will be highly satisfied too if you follow a few simple guidelines:


Only Buy Certified Pre-Owned (CPO)

Phone manufacturers and independent retailers have adopted the auto-industries' practice of certifying pre-owned products so that consumer's know they aren't getting a lemon. "Certified” means that they have been carefully inspected for software and hardware problems.

Apple and Samsung both state on their websites that their CPO phones have been tested and repaired to function “like-new." Apple also replaces the battery and the outer shell. If you are buying a CPO phone from an independent retailer, ask about their certifying process. It should include professional inspection and repair with new parts.

Batteries wear out quickly, so make sure that your CPO phone has a brand new one. Also, ask what comes in the box. Sometimes a CPO phone will come with all the brand new accessories, including a charging cord and earphones. Others only come with the charging cord or with nothing at all.


Vet the Company

Not all retailers are created equal. Just like it's best to avoid hole-in-the-wall used car dealers, it's smart to make sure you are buying your CPO phone from a reputable company. Do some research, read reviews, and find an honest retailer.

Better retailers will also offer some additional services to customers, like waterproofing and screen protection. It's nice to be able to get this all done at the same place you are buying your phone. Even a discounted device is an investment you should protect.

Some retailers will accept your old phone as a trade-in towards the purchase of a CPO device. This is a great way to get rid of your old phone and save even more money on your new one.


Make Sure the Phone Works With Your Carrier

Phones are usually "locked” to work with only one carrier. When you are looking at pre-used phones, you'll need to make sure that you narrow your search to phones that will work with the carrier you want to use. You can also purchase an "unlocked” phone and get a sim card from your carrier to activate it.


Get a Warranty

Now that you’ve asked questions and made sure you are getting a CPO phone with a brand new battery, ask about a warranty. Any CPO phone should have at least a short term warranty on it. Apple and Samsung guarantee theirs for a year, while Amazon and Best Buy give a 90-day warranty.

If the warranty being offered isn't as long as you want it to be, check with your credit card company about extending it. Some credit card companies provide warranty extensions on pre-owned items that you purchase with their card.


Know the Return Policy

When it comes to return policies, it's essential to read the fine print. Make sure you understand how long you have to return the phone if issues come up, and how much of your money you will get back. It’s also a good idea to keep your receipt in a safe place, in case a return is necessary.