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Buying the New AirPods Pro 2? You Can't Trade In Your Old AirPods. Here's Why

For sanitary reasons, Apple won't accept old AirPods as a trade-in. We'll explain what you can do with them instead.

2nd generation airpods
What can you do with your old AirPods?
Sarah Tew/CNET

This story is part of Focal Point iPhone 2022, CNET's collection of news, tips and advice around Apple's most popular product.

If you're ready to trade in your old AirPods for the latest AirPods Pro 2nd generation from Apple, we've got bad news. Apple won't accept your used earbuds.

While Apple accepts trade-ins for iPhones as far back as the iPhone 7 and the Apple Watch -- and gives credit for several eligible Android devices -- trade-in offers don't extend to AirPods of any sort. In fact, your only option through Apple is to recycle your old earbuds.

We'll explain why you can't trade in your old AirPods to Apple, and what your other options are. For more, check out the new Apple Watch 8 Series and Apple Watch Ultra, as well as the new iPhone 14 and 14 Plus, and the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max.

woman stands in front of screen displaying apple airpods

The new AirPods Pro 2.

Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Lord/CNET

Why won't Apple take old AirPods as a trade-in?

One reason you may not be able to trade in old AirPods could come down to sanitation. Earbuds by definition enter the human body -- in this case, the ear canal where ear wax (also known as cerumen) accumulates and drains. It's a natural process, but it has a tremendous "ick" factor, and Apple may not want to take on a cleaning process or liability for decrusting ear gunk and refurbishing old 'Pods. (Apple didn't respond to a request for comment.)

Another reason Apple may not accept your used AirPods could come down to economics. The new AirPods 2 cost $249 (£249, AU$399), so the financial overhead to clean and repair old AirPods and then resell them for a fraction of the price may not make sense for Apple's bottom line. Demand may just be too low or the process could be too impractical.

Can you sell used AirPods online anywhere else?

We did find other places where you can sell your AirPods online to save up money for the newest AirPods Pro 2, such as Decluttr and BuyBackWorld. Or you can trade your earbuds in to Best Buy or Amazon and receive your money on a gift card. Just don't expect a huge payout, even for items in good condition. 

For instance, the original AirPods Pro in good working condition with all charging components will get you $55 with a trade-in at Best Buy. That's better than nothing, but it won't cover even a quarter of the cost of a new set.

If you're looking to offset the cost to buy the AirPods Pro 2, another option is to pay in monthly installments using an Apple Card, so you'd pay $41.50 per month for six months.

For more, here are some tricks to try with your new AirPods and the best AirPods alternatives