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How to make the most money from old gadgets

Making way for a new tech purchase? Here's how to get the best deal when reselling your old gadgets.

Josh Miller

Selling old electronics needn't be a hassle if you want to make a little money. That sweet cash return can help subsidize your new device. 

But if you want the absolute best price possible, shop around and compare deals. Here are a few ways to do that.

Before you start

  • Make it appealing: Find the original box, chargers and manuals if you still have them. Do a factory reset and wipe all your personal data so the gadget looks like it's fresh out of the box. Clean devices like cameras and PCs so they look as good as new.
  • Trade-in: As long as your device is in good working order, trading rather than selling directly can lead to bigger discounts, especially if you end up with gift cards that can offset the cost of a new device
  • Time it right: When a new iPhone ($1,000 at Cricket Wireless) is launched, the market is flooded with older-generation models. Work out release cycles for the product you're selling and try and time it so you are ahead of the curve. If in doubt, sell it sooner rather than later.
  • Research what it's worth: Do a little online detective work before selling to determine how much you can get. On eBay, look for completed listings to get an idea of market price. Go to eBay Advanced Search and tick "Completed listings."
  • Check the warranty: Potential buyers will want to know if the device is still covered under a warranty in case something goes wrong.
  • Beware of scams: If a deal seems too good to be true, it might be. Keep a record of your transaction and read up on seller protection if using a direct sale method.

Sell direct

ebay-android-phones.jpg

CNET

The best return is generally when you sell direct to another person rather than a compay. There are many sites and services you can turn to, including eBay, Craigslist, OfferUp and Amazon Marketplace.

Include lots of details about the condition of the item. Spend time taking photos of the actual item with close-ups of areas that might have received wear and tear, like the home button on phones, the trackpad on laptops or the shutter button on cameras.

Also, make sure to keep an eye out for any seller, transaction or shipping fees that might reduce the final amount in your pocket.

To bypass the big players altogether, selling through your social network on sites like Facebook Marketplace can net big returns without extra fees.

Comparison sites

Get an idea of how much your device may be worth by comparing prices based on device type and carrier (if applicable).

Some popular US sites include Nextworth, USell, Sell My Cell PhonesSwappa and Glyde.

Screenshot by Lexy Savvides/CNET

In Australia, Mobile Monster and Boomerang Buyback offer a similar service for mobile devices and general electronics. In the UK, some high street retailers such as Carphone Warehouse will buy back gadgets, otherwise Cash In Your Gadgets provides quotes before you sell.

Selling a phone? Here are six tips to know before selling your phone for cash.

Consider selling for components

In the case of desktop computers, some of the components inside may be worth more separately than as part of the entire case. If you're familiar with what's inside your PC, consider selling off items like graphics cards or motherboards separately to maximize the total resale value.

What's not worth your time

While the resale market for phones, PCs and tablets is strong, there are some items that might not be worth the hassle. Think inkjet printers, standalone GPS devices and old MP3 players. Consider donating these devices or recycling them if the effort to sell them is worth more than the return.

Update, Dec. 27, 2017: Originally published in December 2014, this article has been updated with additional comparison sites and information.