How do you make a brand-new phone cheaper? Sell your old one.
With nearly every wireless carrier now using device payment plans, you may not have as many old phones sitting in a drawer, but most trade-in websites now accept tablets, fitness trackers and smartwatches.
To help with the cost of upgrading to the latest and greatest tech, take advantage of websites that will offer you cold hard cash in exchange for your electronics. The prices offered are usually a little lower than what you could directly sell the device for on the likes of Swappa or Craigslist, but you don't have to deal with the hassle of negotiating a price, paying for shipping or the fees some services charge.
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Payment method: Amazon gift card
Turnaround time: Two business days after Amazon receives the item
Amazon's trade-in site works a lot like its retail section. You search for an item, enter any necessary details (storage, screen size and so on) and then select the device's condition. Amazon will then make an offer, and if you accept it, provide a shipping label for the item.
Once you ship the item Amazon will inspect it to ensure the item matches your original description. If it all checks out, your Amazon account is credited with an Amazon Gift card for the offer amount. If the item is in better condition than you described, Amazon promises to pay you more.
Your gift card is usually available within two business days after Amazon receives the shipment.
The drawback? Your money is locked to your Amazon account.
Payment method: Apple Store gift card
Turnaround time: Instant if done in an Apple Store. Two to three weeks if done online
Apple will take trade-ins of devices from a wide range of companies, not just its own. You can either walk into an Apple Store or use Apple's online service. Currently, Apple will accept phones, tablets, computers, watches and "other" devices. If the company doesn't have a trade-in offer for your device, it will ask if you'd like to recycle it free of charge. Visit the site or an Apple retail store to begin the trade-in process.
Using Apple to trade in old devices and get some cash makes sense if you want to stay within the Apple ecosystem, or if you're making the jump from Android. You can't, however, use the Apple Store gift card to buy a Samsung device, for example.
Best Buy Trade-In
Payment method: Best Buy gift card
Turnaround time: 10 business days
Getting a quote from Best Buy is as simple as picking a product category, manufacturer, model and condition. Once you've filled out the questionnaire, the tool will estimate the value of the item. The offer amount, if you choose to accept it, will only be awarded as a Best Buy gift card.
You can either ship the item to Best Buy using a prepaid label, or find a local store that accepts in-store trade-ins.
Best Buy's mailing turnaround time is slower than other services, but the company accepts nearly every type of electronic device it sells. You can trade-in video games and an iPhone ($1,000 at Amazon) at the same time, for example. And if you do it in-store, you get a Best Buy gift card without the wait.
Payment method: PayPal or check
Turnaround time: A week after receiving the device
Unlike the previous services, Nextworth will pay you through your choice of PayPal or a check.
The process entails answering some questions about the phone, tablet or smartwatch you want to trade in. Nextworth will make you an offer and, if you accept it, send you a prepaid shipping label.
When Nextworth receives your device, it will verify the indicated condition is accurate, and if there's a discrepancy, you will have a chance to ask for the device back or accept the revised offer.
eBay Instant Selling
Payment method: eBay Instant Voucher
Turnaround time: Same day
eBay's Instant Selling platform monitors eBay phone listings, and if a device is in good working condition, will offer to instantly purchase the phone and give the seller an eBay Instant Voucher. That's marketing speak for an eBay gift card.
The seller (you) will then send in the device to a company that's partnered with eBay, where it will be inspected and verified that the device is as described.
If there's a discrepancy, your eBay payment method will be charged the difference.
Of course, the downside here is that you will have to spend the gift card on eBay, instead of another service.
It's a good idea to shop around and check which service will offer you the most money for your device. That's where Flipsy comes in.
Flipsy doesn't accept trade-ins itself, but instead, it curates other services that do and provides you with a list of services and the amount each one is currently offering for your device.
You can then quickly glance over the list and select the service or website that offers the most for your device.
Originally published on Feb. 29, 2012.
Update, Nov. 16, 2018: Updated with new and current information.
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