5 Used Things You Can Feel Safe About Buying On Craigslist

Matt Smith 22-03-2011

buying on craigslistCraigslist is one of the web’s oldest established websites. It’s been around since 1995, and while its services have changed over the years, it’s always been an open, (usually) free to use classifieds website. Unsurprisingly, this makes it a great place to buy and sell stuff, and I’m sure many of MakeUseOf’s readers have bought or sold something on the site at some point.


Still, Craigslist is considered by some to be a bit shady, and perhaps with good reason. There are few rules, and the items people advertise rarely come with any guarantee. Buying some items on Craigslist can be a bit risky, but there are some relatively safe deals to be found on the site.

Video Games

what is safe to buy on craigslist

Used games are always a great deal because they don’t lose any value as they’re used. With the exception of nicks or scratches to the game disc, which you can inspect for before handing over your cash, a game that is ten years old is in the same condition as it was the day it was released. Indeed, it may be better if there have been patches released for the game.

Not everyone on Craigslist offers fair prices for games, but you can usually find deals that are better than what you’ll receive from your local Gamestop and about on par with what you’d find in the used section of online retailers like Amazon. You don’t have to pay shipping costs, however, nor do you have to wait for the game to arrive, so you usually end up ahead.


Old Computers

safe buying on craigslist

Buying new second-hand computers on Craigslist is a bit risky for my blood. The price tag associated with them is always high, and if you have a problem you may not be able to return the item to the store but rather go through the manufacturer’s warranty process, which can take some time.

Older PCs, however, are often sold on Craigslist. It’s not hard to find a two or three year old PC with a dual-core processor and two to four gigabytes of RAM for $200 or less. If you’re willing – or want to – go for even older hardware, it’s not hard to pick up a full system for under $100.  While you can find comparably priced systems elsewhere, Craigslist tends to be advantageous because of shipping costs, particularly if you want to buy a desktop. It’s also reassuring to be able to actually see the system and at least confirm that it boots before buying it.

Audio Equipment

safe buying on craigslist


There is a lot of home theater equipment available on Craigslist, but I hesitate recommending the purchase of items liked used HDTVs because they can have hidden problems. A HDTV with aging capacitors, for example, may start to show the signs in subtle ways, like a slow power-on cycle or slight graphics errors. Six months later, the HDTV is dead.

Audio equipment, however, is usually straightforward. Speakers have few complex electronics and are generally quite durable. If there is a problem with a speaker, subwoofer or other piece of audio equipment, you can usually detect it by listening to the playback of the equipment for a few minutes.

Digital Cameras

safe buying on craigslist

Digital cameras The Four Best Digital Camera Review Sites Read More are a great item to buy used on Craiglist, particularly if you’re looking for a Digital SLR or similar high-end camera equipment. They have two things going for them as a used item. The first is durability; cameras are built to be used frequently and need to be tough enough to jostle about in a camera bag regularly without damage. The second is passion; high-end cameras are expensive, and generally only usable by people with enough passion to learn some basics about photography. There’s a decent chance that the previous owner of the camera had some love for it, and since you’re going to meet that owner you should be able sniff out how well the camera was taken care of.


In addition to the cameras themselves, Craigslist is a great place to find accessories for the same reasons above. A well treated camera lens can literally last decades, so buying one second-hand from someone who squeaked a few years use out of it shouldn’t decrease the quality of the lens one bit.

Jailbroken Smartphones

buying on craigslist

Normally, I would’t recommend buying smartphones from Craigslist. Smartphones are another category of item that can easily have hidden problems, and they’re almost completely impossible for most geeks to work on, so even a tiny issue can turn into costly repairs. In addition, smartphones are sold used with their original battery, which is probably going to be in need of replacement in the near future. Finally, new smartphones are being released at an incredible rate, so buying a used smartphone will really put you behind the curve.

Jailbroken smartphones Should You Still Jailbreak Your iPhone? It used to be that if you wanted advanced functionality on your iPhone, you'd jailbreak it. But is it really worth it at this stage in the game? Read More are different, however. They’re not immune to any of the above complaints, but jailbreaking voids your warranty anyway, so potential problems with the phone aren’t as big of an issue. In addition, jailbreaking is a task that not everyone will be comfortable doing, so in a sense you’re gaining a service when you buy a jailbroken phone. You don’t have to go through the hassle of doing it yourself.



Obviously, there are lots of things for sale on Craigslist. You can never be 100% certain that a used item is going to be everything as promised, but that’s simply the risk you take when buying used – and the reason why used items are less expensive. Have you bought something on Craigslist that was great, or were you burned? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Looking to get more out of Craigslist? Check out our blog post about 5 tools that make Craigslist even more useful. 5 Tools to Make Craigslist Even More Useful Read More

Related topics: Buying Tips, Craigslist, Online Shopping.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. H Jordan
    March 24, 2016 at 5:04 am

    I recently bought a limited edition Xbox 360 slim with a ton of limited edition games, a controller, and a wireless network adapter for like $60, and made back all of the money by selling like three of the fifteen games!

  2. Anonymous
    March 28, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    It may be worth noting that some games use DRM that tie the game to either a user's account/gamertag or a specific console/computer. Also, some console games use one-time use codes for some features, so if you want to use those features, you may have to buy a code. Most of the time they are available via the console's market/store or by contacting the game publisher. Some companies are doing this to recoup a little money off of used game sales.

  3. Mr. Safe
    March 22, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    this bull s h i t put yourself in safe mode inside a safe box and put everything in safe swiss bank and try after that to feel safe.

    • Spencer Collins
      March 23, 2011 at 9:58 am

      Why did you even bother posting such a negative comment. You should change your name to Mr Negative. I found the article well written and informative, like all of Matt's previous MakeUseOf posts.

      • Aibek
        March 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm

        I second Spencer

  4. ankit
    March 22, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    and there needed to be an article written for this ? its called common sense

  5. Nytephenix
    March 22, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    I'm on a laptop right now that I got off of craigslist, and have gotten a few other items off craigslist also.
    I sometimes feel like I stole this from the guy selling it because I got it so cheap. But it works great, just a couple of upgrades to it and not had any issue with it at all.

  6. ninjapirate89
    March 22, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    I would also add books to the list. I buy and sell most of my college textbooks there.

    • M.S. Smith
      March 22, 2011 at 9:38 pm

      Books are great. We just tend to take a tech focus here, so I kept myself to electronic items.

  7. Srivatsan Venkatesh
    March 22, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I remember buying Wind Waker off Craigslist once. The seller happened to go to work near my neighborhood, so I arranged to buy it. It was a really good game.

  8. Jonathon Krueck
    March 22, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    I've been too scared to buy anything off Craiglists, lol.

    • M.S. Smith
      March 22, 2011 at 9:38 pm

      I can be a little leery too. But then I have to put up with the fact that I'm apparently more of a wimp than my wife, who will buy or sell (almost) anything on craigslist, and has had no issues with anyone trying to scam her or be creepy.