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How to get the best price for your iPad trade-in

If you've got the iPad 2 upgrade bug, follow these tips for how to get the best price on your first-gen iPad.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
3 min read


Apple's new iPad 2 is certainly a nice upgrade from the original, but it may not be revolutionary enough to convince owners of the original iPad to shell out for a second tablet. One way to justify an early upgrade is to sell or trade in your current iPad, to at least cover some of the cost of a new model.

Searching online for the best deal for my 32GB Wi-Fi iPad (which originally cost $599), I found the offers ranged from under $200 to nearly $400, although some required more effort on the seller's part than others. Also, as many other iPad owners are thinking of performing a similar swap, the prices offered for the original iPad have dropped, sometimes dramatically, since the announcement of the iPad 2.

My first stop was Gazelle, one of several trade-in sites that promise a no-hassle trade-in. Just fill out a Web form with info on your product, and you get a quote and a prepaid shipping label. For a 32GB Wi-Fi iPad in excellent condition, the initial offer was $340, which seemed decent, if not spectacular.

Gazelle also has a spot on its checkout page for a bonus code, to add extra value to a trade-in. I did some Google searching for codes, and found several potentially good ones. The best ones, for an extra 10 percent, were unfortunately expired. The code "VIPad" would give me an extra $5, but I found one that was better--entering "TWiT" as a bonus code got me an additional $17, for a total of $357.

Nextworth, another one-stop trade-in site, offered only $260 for the same model, and I've heard from colleagues that the site typically underbids on products.

Best Buy also offers trade-ins, separate from its new buyback program for items purchased originally from Best Buy. Checking the trade-in page, I found my iPad was worth an estimated $275 if I used a Best Buy gift card, or $179 in cash. The store will accept trade-ins in person, or via mail for select items.

The best on-paper deal I found for a straight trade-in was from a Web site named CashforiPads.com. The same company also runs Cashforlaptops.com, Cashforsmartphones.com, you get the idea. That offer was $375, higher than any of the others, but I also had a hard time finding any independent online reviews of the company.

Another option is to sell your iPad through Craigslist, eBay, or Amazon.com. Currently eBay prices are hovering around $350 to $450 for a 32GB Wi-Fi model, and one auction that ended this morning had a winning bid of $363.

I'm dubious about selling electronics through eBay, as my recent attempt to sell an iPod Touch taught me a lesson in fraud prevention, which I felt compelled to share with readers. Amazon lets you post used goods for sale, and I've heard from several people who vouch for the system, but posting an item, waiting for an offer, then packing and shipping it is an extra layer of effort I'd rather avoid. The same goes for Craigslist--the deal I'm looking for, even if it nets me a little less money, is a ship-it-and-forget-it arrangement, rather than having to deal with an individual buyer.

A few helpful tips if you're thinking of swapping an old iPad for a new one:

  • Beware of fraud, especially on eBay, when selling electronics.
  • Remember to reset your iPad to its factory state and remove all your personal and account data.
  • The resale value of first-gen iPads is likely to decline quickly, especially after the iPad 2 becomes available tomorrow.
  • If you have purchased apps or content on your iPad, back them up first, so you can restore them to an iPad 2 easily.