Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


The best place to sell or trade in your phone in 2022: Turn old tech into cash

Looking for extra cash to finance your next shiny new tech purchase? We've gathered all the most convenient options for getting a good price on your unwanted devices.
Written by Jason Perlow, Senior Contributing Writer
eBay | Largest internet exchange
Largest internet exchange
View now View at eBay
Swappa | No seller fees
No seller fees
View now View at Swappa
Itsworthmore | Flexible payment system
Flexible payment system
View now View at Itsworthmore
Buybackworld | Similar to Itsworthmore
Similar to Itsworthmore
View now View at Buybackworld
Amazon Trade-In | Ideal for people who heavily use Amazon
Amazon Trade-In
Ideal for people who heavily use Amazon
View now View at Amazon Trade-In
Best Buy Trade-In | Similar to Amazon's trade-in service
Best Buy Trade-In
Similar to Amazon's trade-in service
View now View at Best Buy Trade-In
Apple | Good, hassle-free option
Good, hassle-free option
View now View at Apple
Samsung | Samsung runs trade-in promo for its own phones
Samsung runs trade-in promo for its own phones
View now View at Samsung
Show more (3 items)

Want to get some cash to finance your next smartphone, tablet, laptop, or video game console purchase? Many websites specialize in cashing in or providing trade-in value for your consumer electronics, including exchange/listing services, buyback services, and manufacturer trade-in programs.

In most of these cases, you can sell your old gear without having to visit a single location. You just need to drop it in the mail, and depending on which place you are working, you will be provided with return packaging or a shipping label to print out. Some will even pick up your equipment using a courier.

The best exchanges and listing services

Directly negotiate the sale

An exchange or listing service is the most conventional of options for those who want to be directly involved in negotiating the sale and have the most control over the sale process to offer items up for bid or "buy it now" pricing. The benefit of this is that you can negotiate the highest price for your merchandise possible, but the negative is that there's the highest amount of touch required, so it is the most hassle-intense of all the options. It may take longer to find the right buyer for your item on one of these services, and aborted sales are widespread.

Pros & Cons
  • Largest exchange for pre-owned electronics
  • Good for buying
  • Difficult for an individual seller to gain visibility
More Details

eBay is the largest internet exchange for selling any product, merchant to merchant, merchant to buyer, or independent seller to buyer in the entire world. Single-item sellers exist, but it is more oriented towards volume sellers who have made a business out of selling refurbished or used merchandise. Its smartphone and consumer electronics section is probably the most active for secondary market sales of any consumer site.

Payment: Direct bank transfer
Turnaround: Varies

Pros & Cons
  • No seller fees
  • High activity on mobile devices
  • Quick turnaround
  • Buyer fee in sale price
More Details

Open exchange for buying and selling used phones, tablets, video games, cameras, and home tech -- seller to buyer listings, with back and forth negotiation.

Payment: Paypal. No seller fees, but buyers pay a small fee that is included in the sale price.
Turnaround: Varies

The best buyback services

Pre-negotiated pricing

A buyback service is a website with pre-negotiated pricing for listed categories and models of devices based on their stated condition, such as good, excellent, pristine, or even cracked or damaged. Provided the item received during inspection meets the pre-negotiated condition, you'll receive that price for the item. If it doesn't meet the negotiated condition, these services typically will offer you a reduced price or offer to return the item to you.

Pros & Cons
  • Flexible payments
  • Offers tend to be below market rates for private sale
More Details

This service distinguishes itself by having a flexible payment system, as it includes direct bank transfers via Zelle, PayPal, or regular bank checks. 

Payment: Paypal, Zelle, or check
Turnaround: 72 hours after receipt of item using standard shipping, accelerated turnaround available for additional $15 fee via two-day shipping option. Processing can take up to five business days.

Pros & Cons
  • Wide variety of devices avaliable
  • Offers tend to be below market rates for private sale
More Details

Similar service to Itsworthmore, with a large variety of devices and products available to buy and sell, including custom quotes for unlisted items. 

Payment: PayPal, direct deposit, BuyBackWorld gift card, prepaid debit card, and check
Turnaround: 48 hours after passing inspection

Pros & Cons
  • Great for frequent Amazon users
  • Offers tend to be below market rates for private sale
More Details

Trade-in for credit service on many forms of consumer electronics. Many kinds of devices are listed, but not consistently the most aggressive on offers and frequently not up to date on the most current devices on the market. The trade-in process is fair and generally fast -- ideal for people who heavily use Amazon.

Payment: Amazon gift card
Turnaround: 48 hours after receipt of the item

Pros & Cons
  • Great if you want store credit
  • Offers tend to be below market rates for private sale
More Details

Like Amazon's trade-in service, you pick a product category, manufacturer, model, and condition, and the system will provide you with a quote. The accepted offer is awarded as a store credit in the form of a Best Buy gift card.

Payment: Best Buy gift card
Turnaround: Instant if done in person at a retail store. Seven to nine business days if mailed

The best manufacturer trade-in programs

Suppose you don't need to liquidate your device for cash but instead, simply want to trade up to a newer model. In that case, it's often the least path of resistance to take advantage of a manufacturer's own trade-in programs, which will give you the cash value of your device with the purchase of a new device. 

Pros & Cons
  • Hassle-free
  • Slow payment turnaround
More Details

If you're looking to buy a new Apple device, using its own trade-in service is a good, hassle-free option, especially if you want to finance some of that purchase with your existing phone, tablet, or computer. 

The company will take other manufacturers' products but gives the best prices on its own. This isn't the best service to use if you want a quick turnaround on payment, as it can take two or three weeks to process unless you do the trade-in at an actual Apple Store retail location. 

However, the company will send you packaging with prepaid shipping customized to the device you are sending back, making the entire process very easy to deal with. To use this option, go directly to Apple's trade-in site or choose "I have a device to trade in" when purchasing a new device from the Apple Store.

Payment: Apple Store gift card or trade-in value during the purchase of Apple products
Turnaround: Instant at an Apple retail store, two to three weeks if done online

Pros & Cons
  • Good for trade-in on new Samsung models
  • Offers tend to be below market rates for private sale
More Details

As with Google and Apple, Samsung generally runs promotions for trade-in on its latest model devices shortly after their introduction. The company accepts older models of their own devices and Apple, Google, LG, and Motorola.

Payment: Trade-in value during the purchase of Galaxy S series.

Why and when should you cash or trade-in?

As with anything you buy, when you remove a product from its packaging, it immediately depreciates. Additionally, as soon as a new model of whatever product you are using is announced, the value depreciates even more. 

How to get the highest price for my device?

If you are inclined to get the highest price for your item, you'll want to trade it in before a newer model year is announced. Typically, most manufacturers will eliminate a product from a model line once a year. Still, some may retain products for sale from the previous model year.  In that case, the models that are eliminated from the line will become much more depreciated. 

When should you trade in your device?

There are times of the year that best align with the announcement of the sale of new models. In the case of Apple, there is usually a fall cadence, typically in mid-September, when iPhones, iPad Air, and entry-level iPad models are announced. iPad Pro models now tend to be announced in late spring, March, or April. Samsung Galaxy S series phones and tablets usually are announced in January, the Flip series are announced in August, and the last two flagship Google Pixel devices were announced in October and September, respectively.

Where should you trade in your device: Manufacturer or third-party listing service?

If you intend to trade in the device for another device at the same manufacturer, it may make sense to use the manufacturers' own trade-in program rather than a buyback service, as their pricing tends to be more aggressive on their own products. You might be able to get a somewhat higher price at a listing service, but the much higher level of effort to get it for a minimal price difference of $20 to $50 might not be worth it.

Editorial standards