We've always traded in our old motor vehicles toward the purchase of the new one, but now that mindset applies to many other items: electronics, video games, books -- and even CDs.
I wondered which way to go about it because I have an older model smartphone (I am a frugal electronics shopper, not an early adopter or a tech geek. I just choose from the phones offered for free on my carrier's two-year upgrade). So, I compared some popular new trade-in program features using my phone, and here's what I found out about how you can save money by trading in your electronics:
|Service||Cost||Free shipping||Refund method||Recycling||My old smartphone*|
|eBay Instant Sale||Free||Yes||Paypal||Yes||$66.72|
|Gazelle.com||Free||No||Check, Amazon gift card, Paypal||Yes||$66.00|
|Best Buy trade-in||Purchase/
|Yes, UPS or in-store||Store credit, check||Yes||$63.22|
|Nextworth.com||Free||Free for military or in store at Target||Check, gift card, Paypal||Yes||$61.00|
|RadioShack trade-in||Free||Yes||Store credit||Yes||$66.76|
|Amazon.com Trade-In Store||Free||Yes||Amazon gift card||No||$68.00|
"I think this trend is generally a good thing because you can save money on a new purchase and recycle worthless electronics easily for free, " says Michael Paulson, retail expert at Decide.com, a free website designed to help consumers predict prices based on proprietary price and model predictions. "The exception is Best Buy's paid program. Consumer Reports found that the program charges a fee (that) contributes negatively to the amount of your trade-in."
Paulson advises against constantly using trade-ins toward purchases of new electronics models every time they come out. "The economics just don’t work. You just don't get enough for selling your old one because the depreciation can be quick and massive."
In looking up my old smartphone, I can see a trend, though. You could likely get more for your old item by selling it yourself, and the same applies in the car market. You end up paying for the convenience of using the websites that directly offer you money in minutes. Paulson's advice: Get the best price for your trade by doing it before public announcements of new models, while prices are still highest. If you're an early adopter and a tech geek, keep abreast of tech developments in the news to help gauge when to sell your old gadget.
One exception I found to all of this is books. I'd much rather simply swap titles than receive $1 or less trying to sell back the used book. Sites such as PaperbackSwap.com and Swap.com are fun and saving money is a no-brainer because no money changes hands.
So what will you be trading in soon?