How to recycle your old technology for cash

Written by |

Being a hip young tech-savvy power-player can be difficult (and expensive), especially when every other day a new gadget, doodad or widget is released. The frequency with which new technology is made available means that staying current can be a costly commitment — and leaves many pieces of perfectly good, though outdated, tech with little use.

What is to be done with those old pieces of hardware in the wake of an upgrade? Instead of letting old tech collect dust in a drawer or closet, consider recycling it through one of the services listed below.

Your wallet and the environment will both thank you!

Read more: Apple update meant to fix bugs may lock iPads

Cell phone exchange programs

A lot of major cell phone providers offer some kind of trade-in service for customers looking to upgrade to a new smartphone. The value of these services vary depending on how frequently the exchange program is utilized since phones even two generations behind the newest model often offer only meager credit toward an upgrade, but it never hurts to check. Alternatively, websites like SellCell provide an easy way to search a variety of phone recycling companies that will offer cash for old smartphones and tablets based on the condition of the item.

Online trade-in services

There are a number of online storefronts that will take old tech for either cash or gift cards. Websites like Gazelle and NextWorth provide immediate estimates for the value of the item being sold and provide free shipping labels, and in some circumstances shipping materials, for accepted products.

Once the item is received and reviewed, the money will be transferred to a Paypal account within a few days. The downside to these services is that while customers are essentially guaranteed a sale, the price may be significantly lower than desired. One advantage that NextWorth has over Gazelle and other trade-in services is the presence of physical storefronts. With currently 1,500 locations across the U.S., eager techies that have a NextWorth in their area can make their exchange immediately.

A great alternative to these types of trade-in programs, for those willing to take a gift card, is Amazon’s trade-in service. Like the websites listed above, Amazon will give an immediate estimate for the item being traded-in, and will provide free shipping labels.

Once the item is received and reviewed, Amazon will credit the value of the item to the customer’s account for use in the Amazon marketplace. The reason this may be a more apt choice for trade-in is that it seems to offer slightly better deals on trade-ins, and they occasionally offer promotional bonuses for a variety of items.

Lastly, for customers who want to maintain brand loyalty when upgrading, companies like Apple and HP offer private trade-in services, which provide credit for old items that can be used toward the purchase of new company-specific products.


Read more: 3 cheaper alternatives to cell phone insurance through your carrier

In-store trade-in services

If online resell isn’t an option, retailers like Target and Best Buy have a number of physical stores that will accept trade-ins in exchange for gift cards. While these companies don’t explicitly provide a service any different from the other programs listed above, one of the major potential advantages of going with these stores instead of an online retailer is that these stores often have specific promotional offers for certain products.

For example, Best Buy is one of the few trade-in services that will accept Fitbits, and even offers additional gift cards toward the purchase of a new Fitbit. And, as of the writing of this article, Target is providing a $75 bonus to customers who trade-in an Xbox 360 toward the purchase of an Xbox One. These deals may make these stores more desirable compared to the online options.

DIY re-sale

Of course, good old-fashioned salesmanship should never be ignored. Consumers looking to upgrade their tech should never forget that a little ingenuity and work has the potential to yield significant results. Like selling an old car instead of simply trading in, selling old tech privately has the potential to garner a much better return.

Craigslist and eBay are great sites to privately list old gadgets for sale (and just about anything else one would consider selling), and have fairly simple systems for posting items and interacting with potential buyers. Of course, the major downside to this option is that it requires the seller to handle all aspects of the sale, and there is no guarantee that anyone will actually purchase the item. However, the power to set one’s own price means that there is no concern over being taken by a company looking to make a buck off your old gear.


While it is never easy to maintain the facade of effortless technological relevance when companies insist on releasing new products as quickly as they can be purchased, taking advantage of these services can make the stress of affording them a little easier to bear.

Although the value of these services work on a pretty steep curve, especially when dealing with products that are a few generations old, don’t let the opportunity to cut the cost of a new phone or computer go to waste.

Read more: You shouldn’t post photos during vacation…but it’s not for the reason you think!

Welcome bonuses can be a great way to boost the value of a credit card. Best Credit Card Welcome Bonuses for 2022 - If you're in the market for a new credit card in 2022, you may be hoping to cash in on the hundreds of dollars in sign-up bonuses offered to new customers. Welcome bonuses and offers are a marketing tool that…
The best cell phone plans include Tello, Mint Mobile, Visible, T-Mobile, Consumer Cellular and more Best Cell Phone Plans in 2022: The Cheapest Plan for Every Need - Team Clark ranks the best cell phone plans and deals! See our favorites for unlimited data, families and cheap plans starting at $10/month.