How to Trick an EcoATM and Get More Money for Your Phone

Estimated read time 17 min read

How to Trick EcoATM

As a savvy consumer looking to upgrade your smartphone, you’ve likely considered trading in your used phone to offset the cost of a new device. Services like EcoATM kiosks offer a convenient way to quickly sell your phone for cash on the spot. However, these automated kiosks don’t always offer you the best price for your phone. If you want to maximize the money you can get for your used phone, you need to know how to outsmart the EcoATM. By understanding how the kiosk evaluates your phone and making a few simple tweaks, you can trick the EcoATM into giving you a higher offer for your device. With a few pro tips and tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be getting top dollar for your used phone in no time.

What Is an EcoATM?

An EcoATM is an automated kiosk that will buy used mobile phones and other electronic devices from consumers for cash on the spot. They evaluate the condition and model of your device to determine an offer price using a proprietary algorithm. If you accept the offer, they will immediately dispense cash.

How EcoATMs Work

EcoATMs use advanced diagnostics to assess each device for things like:

  1. Physical condition – Screens, buttons, casing, etc. for any damage
  2. Battery health – How well the battery is holding a charge
  3. Device specs – Memory, storage, processor type and speed, connectivity, etc.
  4. Current market value – They check recent sale prices of the same make, model, and carrier to determine fair market price.

The evaluation process only takes a few minutes. If the device powers on, connects to their network and meets their quality criteria, you will receive an offer for anywhere between $5 to $500+ depending on the device. Simply accept the offer on screen and they will dispense the cash.

Maximizing Your EcoATM Offer

There are a few tricks to increase your payout from an EcoATM:

  1. Do a factory reset – Erase your personal data and accounts to restore the device to like-new settings. This makes the device more valuable.
  2. Check the device value online – See what the current market price is for your make, model, storage, carrier, and condition to ensure the EcoATM offer is fair. You can decline and re-evaluate in a month if values go up.
  3. Consider alternate carriers – Unlocked GSM phones or those for major carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile tend to get higher offers than CDMA carriers. You may be able to get an unlock code from your carrier for a small fee to increase the value.
  4. Bundle accessories – Include things like the original charger, case, headphones, etc. A complete package will receive a higher offer.
  5. Try another EcoATM – Not all kiosks are the same. You may get a better offer from a different machine, so try a few locations if possible. Every little bit helps!

Why You Might Want to Trick an EcoATM

There are a few reasons why tricking an EcoATM to get more money for your old phone may seem appealing.

Increased Financial Gain

By tricking the EcoATM’s system, you may be able to get a higher offer for your device than its actual fair market value. The kiosk uses an automated scanner and software to detect the make, model, storage, and condition of the phone in order to determine a buyback price. If you can fool the scanner into thinking your phone is a newer, higher-end model in pristine condition, the offer could increase substantially. Some people have reported getting 2-3 times more than typical offers by obscuring the true details of their phones.

Quick and Convenient

EcoATMs provide an extremely fast, convenient way to sell your old phones for cash. The entire transaction only takes a few minutes. You simply insert your phone into the kiosk, it scans the device, and then dispenses your payment immediately. This instant gratification appeals to many people versus the hassle of listing the phone for sale online and coordinating with individual buyers. The desire for speed and convenience, combined with the prospect of a bigger payout, motivates some individuals to try tricking the EcoATM.

Limited Risk

Some may view tricking an EcoATM as a “low-risk, high-reward” scenario. If the kiosk does not detect the trickery, you walk away with a sizable cash payment for a phone that may have been worth much less. If caught, the worst that happens is the EcoATM rejects your phone and you’re left with the device to sell through other means. For some, the potential upside outweighs the minimal downside risk. However, it’s important to note that tampering with the kiosk is illegal and unethical.

Cleaning Your Old Phone Thoroughly

To maximize the amount of money you can get for your used phone, it is essential to thoroughly clean and restore it to like-new condition before trading it in. By following these steps, you can trick the EcoATM into valuing your phone higher than if you were to trade it in as-is:

Wipe Your Phone and Perform a Factory Reset

The first step is to back up any important data, photos, or files on your phone, then perform a hard reset to wipe it clean. This will remove any personal information, accounts, or content from the device. Next, do a factory reset through the phone’s settings to restore it to its original state. These steps are critical to removing all traces of your information and usage from the phone.

Clean the Phone Physically

Your phone should look as pristine as possible. Use a lint-free cloth to wipe down the screen, back, sides, and any other exterior surfaces to remove fingerprints, smudges, and debris. Be sure to clean charging and headphone ports. Check that the SIM and SD card slots are clear of any dust or dirt. Consider using specialized screen cleaners and microfiber clothes designed for mobile devices.

Check for Any Damage and Get Repairs if Needed

Inspect your phone closely for any signs of damage like cracks in the screen or back, water damage, or malfunctioning buttons, cameras, speakers, or other components. Get necessary repairs or replacements done by a certified technician before trading the phone in. Even minor cosmetic issues can significantly impact the value. It is worth the investment to have a phone that looks and works like new.

Restore Accessories and Packaging

If possible, include original accessories like charging cables, headphones, cases, or other items that came with your phone when purchased new. Also, try to provide the original packaging, which adds authenticity. The more complete the package, the higher the valuation is likely to be.

Following these steps to thoroughly clean, repair, and restore your old phone to like-new condition can trick the EcoATM’s detection systems and result in a higher trade-in offer. With some time and effort, you may be able to get significantly more money for your used mobile device.

Checking for and Fixing Any Issues

To get the most money for your phone from an EcoATM, you’ll want to thoroughly check it over and address any issues before attempting to sell it.

Perform a visual inspection of the phone’s exterior for any signs of damage like cracks, dents, or scratches in the screen, casing, or ports. Even minor cosmetic flaws can significantly impact the offer price. If there are any issues, consider getting them repaired or replaced before proceeding.

Test to make sure all features and functions are working properly. Ensure the touchscreen, buttons, cameras, microphone, speaker, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, etc. are fully functional. Double-check that the phone can make and receive calls, send texts, access the internet, charge and hold a charge, and run apps as expected. Any malfunctions could be a deal breaker.

Wipe your phone clean to remove all personal data, accounts, and settings. Do a hard reset to factory conditions. Make sure the “Find My Phone” features are turned off. An EcoATM will not accept a phone that is locked, unable to be reset, or still contains the previous owner’s information.

Update your phone to the latest iOS or Android operating system version available. Software and security updates not only ensure optimal performance but also increase the phone’s value. Outdated software is a red flag to potential buyers.

Consider getting a professional refurbishing to return the phone to like-new condition. While refurbishing does require an upfront investment, it can significantly boost the selling price and allow you to get the highest payout possible from an EcoATM. Refurbishing may be well worth the cost for newer, higher-end phones.

By conducting a comprehensive check of your phone and addressing any issues uncovered. You’ll optimize your chances of getting the maximum offer when selling to an EcoATM. Put in the effort to fix problems, and wipe the phone clean. And make sure it’s in the best working and cosmetic condition possible before visiting an EcoATM location. Your time and money spent will pay off in the end.

Researching Your Phone’s Value

To get the most money for your used phone from an EcoATM. You’ll want to do some research to determine its fair market value. This will allow you to check that the EcoATM is offering you a competitive price.

Check Recent Ebay Listings

Search eBay for recently sold listings of your exact phone model and carrier in the same condition as yours. Make note of the average selling price of these phones. The EcoATM’s offer should be within 70-80% of this price range. If not, you may want to consider selling on eBay yourself to potentially get a higher value.

Check the Swappa Price Guide

Swappa is a used phone marketplace where individuals can buy and sell directly to each other. They offer price guides based on current market data for most major phone models. Enter your phone’s details like model, carrier, storage capacity, and condition to get an estimated price range. The EcoATM’s offer should align reasonably well with Swappa’s fair market price.

Compare to Other Buyers

Do some research on other services that buy used phones like Gazelle, uSell, and Nextworth. Get quotes from them for your specific phone and compare them to EcoATM’s offer. While the EcoATM may not always offer the absolute highest price, their offers should still be competitive. If their offer seems significantly lower than other buyers, try negotiating with the EcoATM to get a higher price, or consider selling to a different service.

Check Recent Completed Listings on EcoATM

The EcoATM website and mobile app allow you to search recently completed listings to see the prices that the EcoATM recently paid for the same or comparable phones. Make sure the offer you receive falls within the range of these recent transactions. If not, you have data to support requesting a higher price from the EcoATM.

Doing thorough research and comparison of your phone’s fair market value will allow you to confidently accept or reject the EcoATM’s initial offer, and potentially negotiate the best deal for your used device. With some patience and persistence, you’ll get the maximum money from your EcoATM transaction.

Selecting the Right EcoATM Location

Selecting the right EcoATM location is key to getting the most money for your phone. Some tips to keep in mind:

Go to a busy location

A busy EcoATM location, like one inside a large retailer. Will have more demand for used phones so they can offer higher payouts. EcoATMs in less trafficked areas may have a surplus of certain models, allowing them to lowball offers. Malls, big box stores, and grocery stores are all great options.

Check the machine’s recent offers

Some EcoATMs display the amounts recently offered for various phone models. Look for machines that have recently offered good prices for your specific phone or for comparable models. This indicates they likely have demand and will make a fair offer.

Avoid locations with the same phone carrier

EcoATMs located within stores dedicated to your phone’s carrier may already have an excess of your model, leading to lower offers. It is best to go to a neutral location not tied to any carrier.

Go during peak hours

EcoATMs need to keep a steady inventory of used phones to resell, so they are more likely to make competitive offers during their busiest hours to ensure they have enough supply. Evening and weekend hours are typically the busiest. Off-peak times mean less demand and lower offers.

Have your phone details ready

Know details like your phone’s carrier, model number, storage amount, and condition before going to the EcoATM. Enter this information accurately to get an initial offer as high as possible. Be prepared to provide additional details to potentially increase the offer.

Following these tips will help you select an EcoATM location where you have the best chance of receiving a generous offer for your used phone. With some patience and the right strategy, you can maximize your payout and feel good about keeping your old phone out of a landfill.

Acting Confident During the Trade-In

When trading in your phone at an EcoATM kiosk, appearing confident in the deviceโ€™s condition and value can help maximize your payout.

Acting assured and knowledgeable about average trade-in prices for your particular phone model and storage capacity demonstrates to the kioskโ€™s automated valuation system that you have reasonable expectations. Do research trade-in rates on websites like Gazelle, NextWorth, and Decluttr before visiting the EcoATM so you understand the typical range – and the higher end of that range – for a phone in good working condition.

Maintain Eye Contact

Once your phone has been inserted into the EcoATM for analysis, maintain eye contact with the kioskโ€™s camera. Looking away or down at the ground may signal to the systemโ€™s facial detection technology that you seem unsure or dissatisfied with the trade-in offer, prompting it to make a lower initial offer. Sustaining eye contact portrays self-confidence in the phone and the belief that it warrants a strong trade-in price.

Appear Relaxed

Try to appear relaxed, calm, and unrushed. Acting anxious or stressed may lead the kiosk to perceive that you feel compelled to accept any trade-in price just to complete the transaction. Remain patient while the system is evaluating your phone. Take deep breaths to help project a composed, serene demeanor. The more at ease you seem, the more likely the EcoATM is to provide a higher first offer.

Ask for a Re-Assessment If Needed

Do not feel pressured to immediately accept the initial trade-in price offered by the EcoATM. If the price seems too low based on your research, politely ask if the kiosk can recheck the phone to reassess its condition and value. Be prepared to explain specifically why you feel the phone warrants a higher trade-in amount in a courteous, composed manner. The kiosk may then prompt another inspection of the device and provide an improved price. Remaining self-assured and negotiating in good faith can result in receiving the maximum trade-in value for your phone.

Trying Multiple Times to Get a Higher Value

Trying multiple times at different EcoATM kiosks is one of the best ways to get the most money for your used phone. The offers can vary between locations and times of day. Here are some tips to help maximize your phoneโ€™s trade-in value:

Visit Multiple Locations

EcoATM kiosks are located at many major retailers like Walmart, Kroger, and GameStop. Prices offered can differ between places, even within the same city. Try 2-3 separate locations to compare offers and take the highest one. You have 7 days to trade in the phone from the time you get your first offer, so you have a chance to shop around.

Try at Different Times

The algorithms that determine trade-in values can change based on current device market prices and inventory needs. Offers may be higher during peak hours in the evening and on weekends when more customers are trading phones. They tend to be lower first thing in the morning when the kiosks open for the day. Check offers a few times within that 7-day window to find the optimal time.

Get Multiple Quotes

Donโ€™t just take the first offer from an EcoATM kiosk. Have the machine re-evaluate your phone 1-2 more times to generate new offers. Sometimes the additional scans can trigger a higher price as the system gathers more data about your deviceโ€™s condition. Thereโ€™s no limit to the number of quotes you can get, so keep scanning until youโ€™re satisfied with an offer amount.

Consider Selling Privately

As a last resort, you can consider selling your phone through online marketplaces like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or eBay. While more time-consuming, private party sales typically net the most cash. Do some research to determine a good asking price based on your phoneโ€™s make, model, storage capacity, condition, and current used market value. You have a chance of getting 10-30% more than any EcoATM trade-in offer.

With some persistence and patience, you can get the maximum trade-in value from EcoATM for your used phone. Trying different locations and times, getting multiple quotes, and considering a private sale are all techniques that can help trick the system into providing you with the best possible offer for your device.

EcoATM Tricks FAQs: Your Top Questions Answered

One of the most common questions people have about EcoATMs is whether or not they can trick the machine into offering more money for their phone. The short answer is yes, there are a few tricks you can try to maximize your phoneโ€™s trade-in value. However, EcoATM uses advanced diagnostics to thoroughly evaluate each device, so fraudulent attempts are often detected and will result in a lower offer or no offer at all.

Clean and Polish Your Phone

A clean, fully functioning phone in good cosmetic condition will fetch the highest price. Wipe down your phone to remove any dirt or debris. Check that the screen is free of cracks and scratches. Repair or replace any damaged parts. A phone in pristine condition is ideal.

Remove Your Personal Information

Do a factory reset of your phone to erase all personal data like contacts, messages, photos, and accounts. This protects your privacy and security and also allows the EcoATM to properly assess the phoneโ€™s functionality. Any phones with user data still on them will not be accepted.

Consider Unlocking Your Phone

An unlocked phone gives the buyer more flexibility, so the trade-in value may be higher. Contact your carrier for an unlock code and unlock your phone before trading it in. However, unlocking a phone under contract may require an early termination fee, so weigh the potential extra trade-in money versus any fees.

Try Different EcoATM Locations

Trade-in offers can vary between locations based on supply and demand as well as the device evaluators at each kiosk. Try a few different EcoATMs in your area to compare offers and get the best price for your phone. Offers also frequently change, so checking back again in a few days or weeks may result in a higher price.

Be Flexible on Payment Types

EcoATM pays via cash, gift cards, or direct deposit. Cash and gift cards are often the quickest payment options, while direct deposit into your bank account typically takes a few business days. Consider accepting a gift card if the trade-in offer is significantly higher, then use or sell the gift card for cash. With some patience and persistence, you can get top dollar for your used phone from EcoATM.


As you have now learned, there are a few tricks you can use to get more money from an EcoATM for your used phone. By resetting your phone to factory settings, ensuring it has a clean IMEI number, and selecting the highest storage capacity and newest model year, you increase your chances of receiving the maximum offer. While EcoATM’s systems are designed to detect fraudulent activity, following these best practices can help you get the best price for your used device and do your part for the environment by keeping e-waste out of landfills. By trading in your old phone, you also have the opportunity to upgrade to the latest technology and stay connected in our increasingly digital world.

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