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iPhone 4 fetches top dollar on eBay Instant Sale--today only

Buyback program offers up to $357 for old iPhones now that Apple has revealed the iPhone 4S. Did you keep yours shiny and unblemished?

Every time I check my in-box, the wad of cash being offered for old iPhones seems to be growing. Right now it's up to as much as $357 for a used 32GB iPhone 4--provided it's in excellent condition.

eBay's Instant Sale arm will also give you its leg for an old iPhone 4 for today only. Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

That's the highest price being offered today--and apparently today only--from eBay Instant Sale, the electronics recycling arm of the auction site. The offer is separate from the normal auction, "make an offer," and "buy it now" listings on eBay. It's actually a partnership between eBay and a single electronics wholesaler, which makes instant buyback offers for old phones based on the model, its condition, and whether the charger is included.

Instant Sale was already offering some of the best prices around, but in the wake of the iPhone 4S reveal yesterday, they've upped their offer prices for today only by around 5 percent to 10 percent--that translates to an extra $20 or so in your pocket in the case of some used iPhones.

If you play it right, you could wind up with the new iPhone 4S and some extra cash. The newest iPhone starts at $199 and it goes on sale October 14. If you can do without an iPhone for a while, you can sell it to eBay Instant Sale for up to $357--the program promises to pay instantly via PayPal once your phone is received and its condition verified--and use that dough to preorder a 4S starting this Friday.

If you can't go without an iPhone in the interim, consider locking in a top-dollar deal today--Instant Sale gives you up to 7 days to mail in your device, which means you could send it in just a few days before the iPhone 4S is available in stores. Not such a bad deal since you'll likely spend those few days waiting in line outside an Apple store anyhow.

Here's more detail that I received direct from eBay Instant Sale last night:

...through Oct. 5, 2011, at 11:59 p.m. PST, the eBay Instant Sale promotion will offer extremely competitive trade-in prices for popular smartphones - including up to $357 for an AT&T iPhone 4 in excellent condition. After this initial promotion period, eBay Instant Sale will feature competitive promotional cash offers for qualifying smartphones from Oct. 6 to Oct. 18, with offer prices subject to change daily.

During the promotion period, customers can visit the eBay Instant Sale iPhone 4S page to secure an instant cash offer for select smartphones that can be used toward the purchase of the new iPhone 4S. Qualifying smartphones include:

• AT&T iPhone 4: Up to $357
• Verizon iPhone 4: Up to $318
• AT&T iPhone 3GS: Up to $229
• HTC EVO 3D: Up to $200
• HTC Thunderbolt: Up to $200
• HTC Droid Incredible 2: Up to $200
• HTC Sensation 4G: Up to $225

Update, 10:56 a.m. PT to reflect a change in the amount of time in which a device must be sent to Instant Sale after someone accepts an offer. It's now 7 days. eBay tells us its terms and conditions have now been updated to reflect this.