You can trade in old electronics for cash

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Jeff Bertolucci

How many dusty gizmos and gadgets do you have languishing at home? It’s easy to convert those old cellphones, computers, iPods, video games and movie DVDs into quick cash.

A number of big-name shopping sites — including Amazon, Best Buy, eBay and Gazelle — will offer cash or store credit for your gear. The process is quick and painless, and you won’t have to pay shipping costs, even if the buyer rejects your hardware and returns it.

Each marketplace is different, but you’ll usually get top dollar for trading in high-demand items, such as Apple desktop and laptop computers.

Amazon Trade-In Store

As you might expect from the world’s top e-tailer, Amazon has an extremely user-friendly interface. The site accepts trade-ins — for store credit — in four categories: books, video games, movies & TV DVDs, and electronics.

To submit an item, you enter the product’s name in a search window, and then answer a few quick questions about its condition. If Amazon is interested, you’ll receive an offer on the spot.

But what if Amazon, upon receiving your device, decides the product is worth less than its original offer? You have the option of automatically accepting a reduced price or having the product returned to you at no charge.

Amazon offered $63.25 for my Apple iPod nano, which was a few years old but still in excellent condition.

I accepted the offer and printed Amazon’s free UPS mailing label, which popped up in a browser window. Next, I boxed up the iPod, drove to my nearest UPS Store, and dropped it off. Painless.

Within a couple of weeks, Amazon notified me via email that it had examined and accepted my iPod. It immediately credited my gift-card balance.

eBay Instant Sale

EBay’s service works pretty much the same way that Amazon’s Trade-In Store does, albeit with two notable differences.

Before returning a product to you, eBay first asks if you’ll accept a reduced price. And unlike Amazon, eBay pays cash, not store credit.

The fastest way to get paid is to open an account with eBay’s PayPal service (if you haven’t already) and transfer the funds to your checking account.

Other sites besides eBay offer cash, including Gazelle (www.gazelle.com), which also operates trade-in services for big-name retailers such as Costco and Walmart.

If you’d rather not pack up your gear, go to a participating Best Buy or Radio Shack store, where someone will appraise and buy your products on the spot.

Many trade-in services will offer to recycle your device free if they don’t want to buy it.

Jeff Bertolucci is a freelance writer for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.
© 2012 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance