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Amazon will pay you in gift cards to recycle your old electronics. Here's the secret

If you're a frequent shopper, follow these steps to turn your unused gadgets and gizmos into Amazon gift cards.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor
Reviewed by Alyson Windsor
Amazon Prime boxes
Leon Neal/Staff/Getty Images

There are plenty of reasons to shop on Amazon over the coming weeks; perhaps you're looking to preorder some of the new hardware the company just announced, or you have your eyes set on some Prime Day hits.

No matter what the case is, you can't say no to Amazon gift cards, right? They're technically not free, but if you trade in old, dust-collecting electronics that you no longer use to Amazon, the company, through its Trade-in Program will reward you with gift cards and discounts. It's a win-win for you and Mother Nature.

Also: Everything Amazon unveiled at its Devices and Services event this week

Here's everything you need to know about Amazon's Trade-In Program, including the steps for shipping and answers to frequently asked questions.

How to use Amazon's Trade-In Program

Let me set things straight: There are plenty of other trade-in services out there, many of which will likely yield higher rates of return and accept a greater variety of products and brands than Amazon's. But the advantages of using Amazon's program include the hassle-free shipping process, in-store discounts, and electronic gift cards that process directly into your account.

Also: How to sign up for Amazon's invite-only Prime Day deals

If that sounds good to you, here's a step-by-step walkthrough of the service. 

1. Select the item(s) to trade in

You'll want to start from Amazon's Trade-In portal. You can either choose from a range of Amazon-owned product categories, like Kindles, tablets, streaming media players, and Echo speakers, or search from the "Other Trade-In Categories" section, which includes mobile phones and gaming.

Also: These 5 new Amazon features make finding the products you need even easier

Opening a category tab presents you with a manual search bar and a list of products currently registered to your Amazon account. Select the item or items that you'd like to trade in. 

The potential trade-in value (and discount) will be listed beside each product name and model. 

Amazon Trade In Program Kindle Search
Screenshot by June Wan/ZDNET

2. Answer the qualifying questions

Once you've selected your item to trade in, a qualifying questionnaire will appear for you to complete. 

The questions revolve around the condition and status of your trade-in item, including whether or not it's cracked or damaged, whether it can hold a charge, and more depending on the type of device. Your answers will be evaluated during the inspection process, so you'll want to be as honest and accurate as possible. 

Also: Everything you need to know about Amazon's Prime Big Deal Days

If there is an inaccuracy detected, you can choose between taking a lower estimated trade-in value for the electronic or having Amazon send it back to your shipping address. The latter is typically not offered with trade-in programs, so it's good to see. 

Amazon trade in program questionnaire
June Wan/ZDNET

3. Ship the items

Once you've completed the questionnaire, you'll be provided with a UPS shipping label to pack and deliver your item(s). The prepaid label comes at no cost -- for you, at least -- and you'll have 45 days to ship the package out to Amazon. Make sure you're using the provided label and not your own as the tracking information is designated for your specific trade-in.  

Also: Trading in your old phone? Here's how to factory reset it

Tip: If you're shipping a smartphone, tablet, or device that contains personal information, ensure that it's factory reset and wiped clean before handing it off. Also, record and take pictures of its condition. This helps in the event of shipping damage or if Amazon claims that what you described was inaccurate.

4. Wait for your appraised value and/or discount to process

Once the package has been received by Amazon, it will take 10 days, at most, to evaluate the item or items and process the trade-in offer -- whether that's in the form of an Amazon gift card or a discount on select products. If there are any issues, you can visit the Trade-In page for more information or contact an online representative for assistance.


How long will it take to receive my trade-in credit? 

According to Amazon's Trade-In Program website, you should receive your trade-in credit within 10 days after your items arrive at the sorting facility. 

What condition do my items need to be in? 

Amazon's Trade-In Program accepts items that range from non-functional to good condition. Depending on how damaged or pristine the electronic is, you'll receive less or more credit in return. 

How long do I have to ship my device?  

You have 45 days after the prepaid shipping label is provided to ship your device or devices. The best action is to drop off the shipment at a local UPS store and ask for a drop-off receipt to confirm its delivery. Trade-ins can also be dropped off at some Hub Lockers and Whole Foods stores.

Is Amazon's Trade-In program a good deal?

The answer depends on what you're looking to get out of the trade-in. If you just want to get rid of your electronics and not have to worry about buying shipping labels or paying listing fees, then yes, Amazon's program is a good deal.

If you're hoping for the highest return value, then resale platforms like eBay, Swappa, and Itsworthmore will serve you better. Just remember that while you can sell your electronics for more money that way, you'll have to cover service and shipping fees, too.

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