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Get the Most Money Selling Your Old Electronics

by Elizabeth Harper on December 11, 2013

We may be tempted to write off our old gadgets when we upgrade to the latest version, but don't think your old tech toys aren't valuable just because they're not the newest thing on the market. You may be surprised how much money a high-tech closet cleaning can yield if you sell your old gadgets.

You can can take your goods into a store to trade-in, use an online trade-in program or auction them off on a site like eBay. Which every way you choose, the process you'll go through is similar. You'll take your item in or mail it in—some online services will even send you packaging and postage. Once the retailer has it, your item will be inspected and an appropriate value determined. Then, once the item is officially sold—either for a pre-determined price or as an auction—you'll get cash or store credit for it.

Before you get started, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Gadgets in good condition—not battered or broken—sell for the most cash, but some stores will even take broken items. If your gadget no longer works, check the store's policy before you try to sell.
  • Many retailers will want accessories that were originally included with your gadget, like charging cables. If you don't have them, expect to get less cash.
  • Be sure you enter the exact model number and product information if you're trading in online—a mistake could have a big impact on your item's retail value. Sometimes even insignificant details, like the color, can have a big impact on price.
  • Make sure you know what the retailer's policy is on items that are valued less than expected. Some will return the item, but with others, you're stuck with what they evaluate your item at, even if it's lower than the initial estimate.
  • If you take your item to a store to trade in, you'll usually get cash or credit for it immediately—but if you sell online, it could take days or weeks to get your money. If you need cash quickly, in-store trade-ins are your best bet.
  • Some retailers may seem to offer great prices, but take fees out of the final purchase cost before sending it on to you—most notably auction sites like eBay. These can still give you a great value, but be sure to read the fine print so you know what you're getting paid.
  • Before you send an item in, be sure to delete any data you have stored on it—though many resellers will do this yourself, you'd hate to risk having your information stolen.
  • You will generally get more in store credit than in cash at stores that offer both options.

If you're trying to unload a cellphone, we recently ran a thorough comparison of your smartphone selling options. But if you're selling anything else, check out the following chart. We checked the payment options for the major trade-in sites and prices on three older gadgets you might be thinking about trading in: an iPad 2 (16GB, Wi-Fi), a Dell Inspiron 15r laptop (in case you wanted to upgrade to the new Inspiron 17), and the Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS (black) point-and-shoot camera. All prices are for products in good, not "like new" condition.

  How it works What they'll take iPad 2 Dell Inspiron 15R (15RM-1765) Canon Powershot Payment method When they'll pay
Amazon Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a prepaid shipping label to send your gadget in. A wide variety of electronics, video games, movies, and music $166.50 $64.00 $68.25 Gift card Within 10 business days of receiving your gadget
Best Buy Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a prepaid shipping label to send your gadget in. Computers, iPods, laptops, camcorders, e-readers, game consoles, handheld game consoles, camera flashes and lenses, mobile phones, cameras, tablets, video games $160.00 $37.12 $4.35 Gift card Within 10 days of receiving your gadget
BuyMyTronics Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a prepaid shipping label to send your gadget in or wait for a shipping kit. Cellphones, iPods, tablets, e-readers, digital cameras, video game consoles, MacBooks, camera lenses, gps systems, mp3 payers, wireless aircards, camcorders, Apple desktops $160.00 n/a n/a Check or PayPal As soon as a week after receiving your gadget
eBay eBay's My Gadgets program lets you tell it what tech you own, giving you an average price paid for similar items and helping you set up an auction and print a shipping label (paid for by the buyer) if your item sells. Everything $285.92 n/a $62.73 PayPal As soon as three days after the sale
GameStop Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print your offer and take it into a local store. Mobile phones, iPods, iPads, tablets, video games, game consoles $161.00 credit/
$128.60 cash
n/a n/a Credit or cash Immediately, in-store only
Gazelle Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, and Gazelle will ship you a prepaid mailing box to send it in with. Gazelle offers a generous 30-day window to send in your gadget once you've agreed to sell it. Mostly Apple products but also other mobile phones and tablets $135.00 n/a n/a Check, PayPal, or Amazon gift card Within three to five business days of receiving your gadget
Glyde Glyde combines the high prices of an auction site with the ease of use of a trade-in site. They'll suggest a price based on the item's condition and list it on their website for sale. When it sells, Glyde sends you a kit to package and mail it to the buyer. Glyde does charge fees, but the final price may be higher than you'll find on a trade-in site. Mobile phones, MacBooks, tablets, video games $228.00 n/a n/a Check or direct deposit Within two to three days of receiving your gadget
NextWorth Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a prepaid shipping label to send your gadget in. Once you've decided to send your gadget in, you have a generous 30-day window to ship it, which means you can sell it for a locked-in price now but send it in once you've gotten a new phone set up. Mobile phones, laptops, iPods, iPads, digital cameras, tablets, e-readers, video games, game consoles $155.00 n/a n/a PayPal, check, or Target gift card Within a business day of your gadget's being inspected
Radio Shack Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a prepaid shipping label to send your gadget in. Mobile phones, cameras, MP3 players, camcorders, tablets, laptops, video games, game consoles, GPS, e-readers, camera accessories $115.00 n/a n/a Gift card They'll mail a gift certificate once they've received your gadget
uSell Unlike other services, USell brings together offers from a network of professional buyers. Once you accept an offer, you are sent a pre-paid shipping kit with tracking included. Mobile phones, iPads, iPods $150.00 n/a n/a Check or PayPal Depends on the service that buys your device
Walmart Go to the Walmart website and answer a few questions about its condition. Walmart provides a prepaid shipping label. Walmart also accepts some broken electronics. Mobile phones, tablets, MP3 players, video games, game consoles, cameras and camcorders, car audio components, GPS units $125.00 n/a $29.43 Gift card Immediately, with credit approval

As you can see from the chart, tablets, phones, video games and video game consoles are easy to trade in, but you'll have to dig to find options for other types of electronics. And, there's no clear winner when it comes to price. In all cases it's best to check to all the sites that will take your tech to be sure you're getting top price.

[computer tablet phone image via Shutterstock]


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