Enamored with the iPhone 5S? Ready to chuck your old iPhone 5? Hold up before you drop your outdated model in the trash – that phone could get you a hefty discount on your Apple update. Several smart phone trade-in programs have recently popped up, allowing smart phone owners to cash in their old phones before upgrading to new technology. This recycling process is better for the environment and could save you a pretty penny on the newest technology. Plus, many retailers may be willing to buy your phone for a higher price than you paid in the first place. In other words, you can come out in the green (before you buy your new phone, that is).
But which to choose? We’ve broken down the big players in the game to find out how to get the most buck for your phone.
A customer holds up an Apple iPhone 5 (left) and iPhone 4S.
Apple is offers an iPhone trade-in program that gives users store credit for their old iPhones.
(Yves Herman/Reuters/File )
You’re buying from Apple anyway; why not trade in your old phone to them as well? Apple rolled out a trade-in program in August (likely in anticipation of the iPhone announcement) where customers can bring in their old (but not water-damaged) phone and receive a gift card in return (which can only be used toward a new iPhone). Customers can expect to get back $120 to $250 toward a new phone, which is a major discount off contracted or non-contracted phones. Android users are out of luck of course, as the Apple stores will only accept old iPhones.
Level of ease: Easy – as long as you’re an iPhone user who wants the new iPhone and not another gadget from the Apple store.
Estimated trade-in value: $120 to $250
This July 12, 2013, photo, shows a Wal-Mart, in Bristol, Pa. Wal-Mart is the biggest employer in the US.
Wal-mart is the most recent retailer to hop on the trade-in train, and offers a great option if you’re looking to bring in a phone and immediately trade it for a new one. You can walk into the store, have your smart phone device valued by a Wal-mart employee and that value will be put toward any other smart phone that Wal-mart sells. The program is available at more than 3,500 Walmart and Sam’s Club locations, and also includes some smart phones on pre-paid plans. However, the pay off may not be as high compared to selling it on your own. But it is good if you are thinking of switching between the iPhone and Android.
Level of ease: Easy. Bring your device in, walk out with a discount on your new smart phone purchase.
Estimated trade-in value: $50 to $300
Gazelle and NextWorth
An iPhone 5 is pictured on display at an Apple Store in Pasadena, Calif.
Though you may covet the new iPhone, you may not want to put your trade-in money toward a new phone. If that is the case, there are sites such as Gazelle and NextWorth where you can get an estimate on your device, send it into their headquarters, and they’ll send you a check or gift card. Gazelle also offers payment through Amazon or PayPal and NextWorth offers Target gift cards. Though the prices are subject to the demand of the product, Gazelle offers a “lock in” price before big phone announcements, so you can ensure the value on your phone doesn’t go down. In addition, you usually have a month on both services to send in your phone, which means you can purchase your new device without being stuck without a phone for a few days. Both also offer trade-ins on other computers, tablets, and various devices.
Level of ease: Easy, as long as you understand the postal system. Send in your gadgets; get a check (or gift card) in the mail.
Estimated trade-in value: Varies depending on demand. Currently Gazelle estimated a 16GB iPhone 5 with AT&T in good condition at $315 and NextWorth offered $320.
The Amazon logo.
(Mark Lennihan/AP/File )
Many shoppers look to Amazon for deals on textbooks, clothing, and electronics, and the online retailer was one of the first to offer a trade-in program. You can trade in everything from books to video games to iPhones and receive Amazon gift cards in return, which is nice as Amazon sells pretty much anything you could need. You search the going price of your item, mail in your device (or devices – you can trade in multiple items at a time) to Amazon with a prepaid label, and you’ll get an estimated price two days after it has been delivered. It also keeps track of items you have bought, so you can see their current worth. However, the payback price isn’t as high as other retailers, and goes down significantly as the condition of your phone lessens. The difference between a “Like New” iPhone and a “Good” iPhone is currently $12, but the difference jumps by $40 if it is only “Acceptable”.
Level of ease: Easy to medium, depending on how many items you want to ship.
Estimated trade-in value: Varies by demand. Current estimated price for a 16GB iPhone 5 with AT&T is $363.75.
An eBay sign at eBay headquarters in San Jose, Calif., July 16.
This online auction site has been a long-standing source for people to make a quick buck on their old items. You list your item, people bid, and you end up with the profit. Now eBay has added another tool to the mix: My Gadgets. This section of the website allows you to upload information about your current devices and monitor their worth, depending on their average sale price on the site. That way, you know when to wait and when to sell. Plus, you can use the money toward whatever you like, rather than just a smart phone purchase, as with other programs.
Level of ease: Medium. You have to keep an eye on prices to know when is the best time to sell or save. Best for more serious sellers.
Craigslist.org CEO Jim Buckmaster (left) and founder Craig Newmark are photographed outside of their office in San Francisco in this 2005 file photo. The site is one of 15 websites that can save consumers a lot of money.
Craigslist is the one place on the Internet you can find a missed connection, free couch, and a new iPhone. We can’t speak for your luck with the first two, but many people turn to Craigslist to buy and sell electronics as a quick way to meet up and make quick cash. That being said, it can be risky. Buyers can be flaky and the open nature of the site also makes it a target for scams and thefts. The key is to be extra careful with the location and people you meet. Otherwise, this is usually a quick option with a good payoff.
Level of ease: Medium to hard. You have to be on alert for the best time to sell based on demand, e-mails from potential buyers, and possible scams.
Estimated trade-in value: Varies depending on demand. Current selling prices for a contracted 16GB iPhone 5 in Boston, Mass. ranged from $400 to $550.
Your sibling, your cousin, your creative side
Thomas A. Edison, seated beside a phonograph on March 19, 1921.
Okay, let’s say that a month has passed, the iPhone 5S is already on sale, and you missed the best time to sell your iPhone 5. Maybe you’ve decided you need another option. Family and/or friends are usually willing to negotiate a decent price for gadgets, plus it is probably less of a risk than Craigslist.
No one willing to buy? Time to have a little fun. You could jailbreak your phone in order to use third-party apps, connect it to a RedEye mini to make it into a TV remote control, channel your inner Thomas Edison (left) and connect it to a phonograph to enjoy some tunes, or create a data-collecting rocket (because why not). The Internet is full of inspiration.
Level of ease: However easy or difficult you would like (though the data-collecting rocket is going to be on the tougher side).
Estimated trade-in value: That is up to you and your loved ones, or your crafting ambition.
iPhone trade-in programs: Where to sell your old smart phone