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How To Turn Your Old Tech Into Cash

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The average household is sitting on $264 in unused tech items

by Jean Chatzky

Looking for extra money so you can pay off your credit cards from the holidays? If you’ve got old cell phones, smart watches or tablets at home, you’ve likely got it. The average household is sitting on $264 in unused tech items, translating to over $33 billion nationwide, according to research by Decluttr.com. Plus, a third of Americans aren’t aware that old tech can be traded in for cash. When decluttering, “don’t just get rid of things, look to see what you can sell,” says Tracie Fobes, owner of PennyPinchinMom.com. This can be a great way to “get a little extra cash without putting another phone in the landfill.” Here’s the (pun intended) 411.

Take stock of what you’ve got.

Know what you can sell on tech buy-back sites because they’re not always the same. Decluttr.com, for example, buys cell phones, tablets, iPods, MacBooks, wearable tech, game consoles, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, video games and even books. Gazelle.com will make offers on cell phones, tablets, iPods, Apple TVS, MacBooks and other Mac computers. And there are other sites to consider as well, like BuybackBoss.com, ItsWorthMore.com and others. Conduct an inventory of all your forgotten devices by going through desk drawers and other storage; then, gather them together before you sit down to view potential offers. (Keep in mind that if a device’s screen is cracked or it doesn’t power on, the site should still make an offer — it’ll just net you less of a profit.)

Shop around.

Make sure you’re selling your device to the highest bidder. (This includes checking sites like eBay, Amazon and Facebook Marketplace, as well as asking about available trade-in credit for phones with your carrier.) Just to show you a head-to-head comparison: An unlocked iPhone 6s with 128 gigabytes of storage in good condition currently goes for $289 on Decluttr.com and $175 on Gazelle.com. An unlocked Samsung Galaxy S8+ in good condition, on the other hand, will net you $340 on Decluttr.com and $280 on Gazelle.com. And if you’ve got a working iPod Classic 6th generation lying around with 160 gigabytes of storage? That should net you $45 or $25, respectively. (In the example comparisons we ran, Decluttr.com tended to offer more cash for tech.) Before selling, you’ll input your device type on the site of your choosing, answer a few questions about its condition and memory, then receive a quote for its current value.

Be honest.

Once you accept an offer, you’ll print a free shipping label, drop your goods in a box and mail them in. A team will then inspect your device to make sure the condition is the same as you claimed. If it’s not, they’ll reach out and offer you a new payout (based on the difference in condition). If you decide not to accept, they’ll send you back your device for free in most cases. It pays to be honest about the condition when requesting a quote — otherwise, the back-and-forth and logistics will lead to a delay in payment. Another thing to consider? If your screen is cracked, check the difference in offer amount between “poor or broken” and “good” condition on each site. If it’s significant — and it would cost less than that to repair your screen — paying for a quick fix might be worth the investment, says Chase Freeman, spokesman for ecoATM Gazelle (the company’s full name).

Don’t delay.

Phones depreciate faster than cars. And some phones depreciate faster than others. Exhibit A: Research shows that after 12 months, iPhones depreciated by 57 percent, compared to about 72 percent for Samsung phones — and LG cell phones lost almost three-quarters of their original value. Once you purchase a new phone or other device, consider selling the old one immediately instead of dropping it in a drawer to depreciate. “The value of your device goes down every day,” says Freeman. “The sooner you trade it in, the better price you’re going to get.” If you’re still deciding whether or not to sell old tech, note that Gazelle.com allows users to lock in an offer for 30 days with no commitment. That way, your item won’t depreciate while you decide or shop around.

Back it up.

It’s important to back up your device’s data before sending it in — both for security and sentimental reasons. Usually, the site you accept an offer from will send instructions for how to back up and wipe your data, which will sometimes be sent with your free shipping label. With questions, you can contact the buy-back site’s support team or, if you’re selling an Apple product, ask the Apple Store for backup help. The good news: Even if you forget to clear out your information, many sites will reach out after receiving your device in the mail to explain how you can wipe it remotely.

With Hayden Field