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The Best Places to Trade-in Your Electronics

posted by Suzanne Kantra on January 08, 2012

If you're holding back on upgrading to a new cell phone, camera or laptop because of cost, you may be surprised how much your old device will bring at trade-in. And if the prospect of dealing with strangers on eBay or Craig's List is unappealing to you, don't worry, a host of trade-in programs from brick-and-mortar stores, such as Best Buy, Costco and Radio Shack, and online trade-in specialists makes the process simple. And even if your old product has little value, many of these programs offer free and environmentally-safe recycling options.

The trade-in procedure starts with your visit to the trade-in website where you locate the exact product you want to sell in the site’s listings. After you’ve answered questions about the condition of your item, you will receive an estimate of its trade-in value. If you then agree to accept this payment, the program will provide a pre-paid shipping label—and may also provide the packaging material—for you to send the item to an evaluation center.

Once it’s received at the center, your item will be inspected. If its condition matches your assessment, the agreed-to payment will be processed, and should be mailed to you within a week or two.

How they stacked up

I set out to evaluate some of the largest programs to see how they compared. I picked three items that would be typical for someone looking to upgrade — an iPhone 4 32GB, a Canon Rebel XTi and a Toshiba Qosmio laptop — and priced them on a selection of the best known sites.

Many of the brick-and-mortar sites are powered by the online trade-in companies. For instance, Costco and Walmart are powered by Gazelle, and you'll get the same prices on all three. Unlike trading in directly with Gazelle and getting paid by check, however, Costco and Walmart only provide gift cards.

EcoSquid consolidates bids from dozens of trade-in programs, helping you find the best deal with the least effort, but the range of products it supports is one of the most limited.

One outlier is Glyde. It operates as a connector of buyers and sellers, similar to eBay, but with fixed prices. Glyde handles the listing for you and provides prepaid shipping materials. The result is a higher potential price for your device than on the traditional trade-in sites but, unlike the others, there is no guarantee of when your your product will be purchased, if at all. Glyde's product category list is also quite limited.

  iPhone 4 32GB Canon Rebel XTi
(Body only)
Toshiba Qosmio G45 Check/
Gift card
Amazon $189 $78 w/lens n/a Gift card
Best Buy $170 $162 $60 Gift card
BuyMyTronics $142 $105 n/a Check
(powered by Gazelle)
$162 $53 $57 Gift card
eBay $176 $87 $39 PayPal
EcoSquid $225 n/a n/a Check
Gazelle $162 $53 $57 Check
(+5% for Amazon gift card)
Glyde $240 n/a n/a Check
Radio Shack $125 $40 $18 Gift card
(powered by Gazelle)
$162 $53 $57 Gift card

As you can see from the chart, there was no clear cut winner, though Radio Shack was consistently at the bottom in my tests. And while Best Buy took the honors in two of the categories, Best Buy, Radio Shack and Glyde stand alone on the list for not providing free return shipping if their evaluation of your product's condition doesn't match what you claimed online and you choose not to accept their revised offer. And once Best Buy sends you a revised offer, you only have three days to respond or they assume the offer is accepted. You're probably better off taking your item to a store for evaluation to avoid these issues.

And remember, though all of these sites (except Glyde) say they will clean out your personal data before they resell it, none of them will guarantee it. So make sure you shred the data on your phone and perform a factory reset before sending it in. And, if you are trading in a laptop, follow these steps to save your current information and protect your privacy.


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Discussion loading


From Trade-in Guru on January 10, 2012 :: 9:53 am

Why did you omit, Target and Amazon?  You can bring your electronics to a Target store and get a competitive price—on the spot, without having to print out a shipping label, mail it in, and wait for payment!



From Josh Kirschner on January 10, 2012 :: 8:28 pm

There are so many, we couldn’t include everyone (though Amazon was included in the original article).

We ran the same products through Target’s site today and the values of the iPhone and camera were roughly in-line with the other sites: the iPhone 4 32GB was $180, the Canon Rebel XTi was $81. The offer on the Toshiba laptop was far higher at $124. So, laptop owners should definitely check out NextWorth/Target.

Like the other retail stores, Target will compensate you in a gift cards, not cash. The NextWorth site will provide a check or PayPal compensation.



From Armando Filoteo on January 11, 2012 :: 10:47 am

You can also try out They specialize in smartphones and offer pretty high trade in prices and free shipping. Plus, they guaranty data wiping on all devices.



From Matthew (Glyde) on January 11, 2012 :: 2:14 pm

Thank you so much for including Glyde in the comparison!  We realize that people have lots of options when it comes time to resell their gadgets and we are excited to be in the discussion.  We are working hard on expanding the current list of gadgets available to sell on Glyde too.  As for pricing, we do recommend a price at the time of listing, but you are given price flexibility and can choose to list your item at a higher price.  Concerning return shipping, in the rare instance that a buyer initiates a return, the cost of return shipping is split between the buyer and seller (usually around $4).  We hope this info helps and thanks again for the great article.  We are happy to receive any feedback at



From josh on August 01, 2012 :: 4:11 pm

Another good one to mention is, not only do they give a good price and are BBB accredited, but they give free shipping and ship it back if at any point you want them to.  DeviceFlip is a great option to consider…



From Alex on October 14, 2012 :: 3:58 am

I usually end up in amazon and eBay. Probably I was just got used to in any transaction specially about trade in and selling.



From Mae on October 30, 2013 :: 8:33 pm

I never heard or used a mail in service until recently and my experience was good. I think it is definitely worth the time to invest in getting a few quotes on different sites. The price comparisons I saw were anywhere from $20-40 difference. I used the site just because they offered me the most for my Iphone. It was convenient not having to leave my home and deal with any people. I think these mail in sites are awesome and hope to see more of these types of services. They offer way more then the local places. I guess it just depends on if you need the money that day or are willing wait a few days. Definitely worth the few days wait to get $80 more for my phone then from my hometown local shops.


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