Selling Unwanted Electronics, iPhones, and Smartphones: 6 ways to trade in and get cash
Last updated: 9/11/2018
New gadgets are being pushed out almost every month, meaning the electronics industry is producing a significant number of obsolete products that need to be sold, reused or recycled. It's not news that people want the latest, greatest smartphone or tablet.
The electronics industry is counting on people to upgrade their devices to stay profitable. Companies are great at hyping up new products to make them appear essential pieces of computing gear. Planned obsolescence makes it such that older devices don't work as well with newer operating systems. It seems like just yesterday that the iPhone X was released, but in a few weeks there will be likely be a new iPhone out on the market. Have you been thinking of upgrading lately?
Converting your existing device to cash is the best way to support your upgrading. There are many different avenues for selling unwanted products. As a general rule of thumb, the more convenient the selling option, the less payment you will receive. In this article, we will examine several important ways to sell your unwanted electronic items.
New smartphones and gadgets like the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7 are popping up daily. Many owners of old iPhones will be upgrading, unleashing a wave of older models. What do you do with the old iPhone? Time to recycle cell phones and recycle mobile phones.
A recent survey showed only 39% of people recycled their old electronics. The main reasons not doing so were:
- I did not know how
- Did not get around to it
- Recycling is not available in my area
People want to get money back for their old devices, not just recycle them.
Some stores have special buyback programs, which allow you to sell the item back to the store at a predefined price and time in the future. This type of system rarely saves you much money. You are better off selling the product on eBay and purchasing a new one.
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Trading in Old Phones to AT&T, Verizon, Apple
Newer smartphone plans at the main wireless carriers are designed with upgrading in mind.
With the AT&T Next Plan, you can turn in your old phone and upgrade after 1 or 2 years.
The Verizon Wireless Edge Plan had a similar provision where you can upgrade after 50% of your device is paid off. It is now discontinued.
The Apple iPhone Upgrade Program lets you get a new unlocked iPhone every year.
Selling Unwanted Electronics
We suggest people first try to trade in or sell their old electronics. Getting some money is better than getting $0. If your electronic gadget is broken, try fixing it first.
Grading your gadgets condition
How much you will receive for your device will depend on its condition. You will obviously receive a lot less if the device is not functional or has a cracked screen. Such devices can only be used for parts here and there. Top prices will be paid for devices that are as good as new and include all accessories and packaging.
Broken – Cracked Screen, does not turn on, water damage, missing buttons.
Good – Normal signs of wear and tear. Minor cosmetic nicks and scratches. Fully functional, no missing buttons or cracked screen.
Like New – Looks like it is unused. Works 100%. No cracks or scratches.
Where to sell your gadgets
Here we will examine some of the options out there when it comes to selling your gadgets:
- A free method is posting on Facebook. Who knows, a friend may need a phone.
eBay is clearly the best place to sell your unwanted electronics and Smartphones. You will maximize the amount of money you get in return for selling almost any product.
People hesitate selling items on eBay due to the reputation of eBay’s old auction listing forms. Things have changed significantly over the years, making it much easier to sell products on eBay. Popular products like the iPhone 5s are already in eBay’s database, so all you need to do is write up a couple of sentences on why you are selling it, what you are including, condition, set the starting price and buy it now price.
Most payments are handled with PayPal. eBay and PayPal takes a portion of your selling proceeds. Even shipping is handled with significant ease. You simply buy a pre-printed shipping tag for USPS at a discount, pack the item, slap on the label and drop it off at your nearest post office.
An example of a phone for sale in mid 2018: iPhone 7 unlocked 16GB, Excellent condition - $327.
PayPal and eBay fees will trim approximately 10% of your proceeds.
Consignment stores can help you list your product on eBay. Of course, they will do it at a price. We recommend that users list items themselves, since the process is now significantly easier.
Amazon is the largest online seller in the US, and they have their own trade-in program. Their prices are better than many other buyers, but you will only get paid in Amazon credit. Amazon is also very stringent in their grading standards and may grade your item below that of other stores.
iPhone 7 Unlocked, 16GB. Good condition up to $284.32
Another option is to become a seller of products on Amazon, like any other seller. You will be subject to feedback and all the other Amazon terms and conditions. $0.99 per sale plus other selling fees. You definitely receive far more than their trade in program.
iPhone 7 Unlocked 16GB, Good condition $289 - $300.
Craigslist is the classic bulletin board site that handles everything from selling products to finding dates. It is free, but has a lot of hassles when compared to other options. Their number one problem is having to meet with local strangers to complete your sale. There is no mechanism for feedback. We recommend only seasoned veterans in active areas to utilize this channel. Always meet in a well lit, public area like a shopping center parking lot, library or police station.
- iPhone 7 16GB, Good condition $319.
The prices listed above were the average of most of the ones for sale in the San Francisco Bay Area. Clearly the final price maybe lower due to haggling. It is clear that Craigslist can produce high resale value for those selling devices. Because this is local in nature, sellers in some lower population areas might be better served by eBay.
Selling through Stores
If you're not down to sell online, there are some more convenient ways to sell your devices. Some stores and manufacturers allow you to trade in unwanted electronics and receive a gift card, good towards new merchandise. If the item is worthless, they will usually recycle it responsibly.
Apple Stores have a Reuse and Recycle Program that allows customers to trade in their iPhones, iPads, iPods to receive credit towards a new one. This is extremely convenient, as it does not require any extra effort. Their payout for:
- iPhone 7 (Unlocked or any carrier) 16GB, Good condition $165
Apple pays far less than most companies. Only people that are pressed for time and value convince over money should take this route. You are receiving half of the items value!
Best Buy is America’s largest electronics store and as such, receives a ton of products to buy back before shoppers purchase new gadgets. Unfortunately, they pay one of the lowest rates for unwanted electronics and Smartphones.
- iPhone 7 AT&T, Good condition $155. Bring it in-store and get a Gift Card.
Target’s electronics trade-in is powered by NextWorth. They have an electronics trade in program where you can bring items in to the store, to have them forwarded to their recycling partner. Get a Target Gift Card when you trade-in supported items. Target accepts iPhones, iPads, iPods, Smartphones, Cameras, Laptops, Tablets, and Video Games. They produced paperwork that allows you to pack and ship the item in a box via USPS.
- iPhone 7 AT&T, Good Condition $130
You can go directly to NextWorth and get $160 for your iPhone 6S A&T. Unlocked phones will get an additional $10.
Radioshack has a trade in program for most electronics. Check with your local store. They have scaled back operations and push more Sprint products.
Gazelle is a well-known buyer of electronics, having opened back in 2007. They work with many different resellers to create private label buyback programs. They have handled more than 1.5 million devices and paid out more than $100 million. They buyback Apple products along with Tablets and Smartphones from other manufacturers.
- iPhone 7 AT&T 16GB, Good condition $140
To sell your item to Gazelle, you login to their website, create an account, then ship the item to them in a prepaid box. They will examine it and then pay you by check, Amazon Gift Card or PayPal. They have a 30 day price lock. In this example, you are receiving 40% less than you could on eBay.
Usell.com is a comparison site that has several different companies offering to buy your device. Prices offered maybe slightly better or slightly worse than Gazelle. They list feedback for each buyer. You sell and ship for free and receive your money via PayPal or check.
- iPhone 7 AT&T 16GB, Good condition $160
AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint
It is easy to sell your phone back to your carrier, problem is, you will not get much. Also you have to spend the money at the carrier.
Other mail in Buyers
There are many other sites that buy back devices. The process is similar: you first start on their website and tell it what you are selling and its condition. A price will be shown upfront, no time is spent waiting for an auction to finish. They provide a free shipping label and allow you to easily ship the item back to them. Once they receive the item and have verified its condition, you will receive payment by PayPal or check. Most mail in buyers will offer prices similar to Gazelle. We don’t feel there is much of a reason to deal with smaller mail in buyers of devices unless the prices significantly better than Gazelle.
Check out sites like glyde or swappa.
Resources for recycling or donating unwanted electronics
If you have an older item that is worthless, you should try to donate it to a friend or family member that may need the product. Alternatively, you could list the items on Freecycle, a site that helps connect donors with recipients.
Finding a responsible recycler can be a difficult task. Some firms ship eWaste to poor countries, which may cause environmental damage when the device is taken apart and recycled. Here are some solid outlets to give away your unwanted electronics.
- Goodwill - accepts many types of electronics. Check with your local location
- Salvation Army - also accepts electronics. Check your local location to see what they accept
- National Cristina Foundation - helps connect organizations that are in need of working electronics
- Recycling for Charities - helps you donate your item to a charity of your choice
- Cell phones for Soldiers - recycles cell phones so that active duty soldiers can get phone cards to call home
Before you sell or donate - Erase
If you have have made the decision to sell or donate, what should you do now? Backup and secure your information.
- Backup to a computer or iCloud
- Transfer all your contacts, apps, pictures, videos, etc.
- Remove the SIM card.
- Erase your smartphone
At the end of the day, there are many ways to get rid of old electronic products and receive cash back. If you take the time to understand your options, you can receive significantly more money for your electronics.
Do you have a favorite way of getting rid of an old phone?