Trade-ins make upgrade season even more enticing
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 20, 2013 at 6:05 p.m.
We all have that drawer don't we? You know, the one filled with enough retired cellphones to fill a museum, not to mention all the tangled up chargers. For many, it's just too hard to let loose what we worked so hard not to lose. Fear not, relief is here as retailers are practically tripping over themselves to give you cash for those old paperweights.
Cash-for-cells is nothing new, but this is cash-for-smart-cells and far less creepy than walking in somewhere to “pawn” your old flip phone. Now retailers like Wal-Mart and Amazon, as well as all the major carriers, are offering cash or big bucks toward a new device for your old smartphones. If you have a green light on your new-every-two cycle, you can potentially trade in the smartphone in your pocket for the newest model without digging in the other pocket for cash.
I have an iPhone 5 and don't really need the new 5S, but like any good “iAddict,” I have already conjured up a sinister plot to get one. I still have a year to wait for my next upgrade, but my wife's is overdue. Bingo. Not sure this is ethical, but I waited until after my wife had a minor medical procedure last week — you know as she was coming down from the anesthesia — to ask about using her upgrade. It worked. She didn't care. Actually, she didn't care about anything. It's wrong, yes, but addicts will be addicts. She is getting an “upgrade” in the form of my old iPhone 5.
The last obstacle was, of course, justifying the $199 for the new phone I don't need. Then, I stumble upon the trade-in program. I can trade in her iPhone 4S and get almost enough back to walk away with a free new phone. (Cue sinister laugh.)
This is the best time of year to trade in for a new device, as most models have already had their annual updates. Apple is getting the most headlines with last week's release of the flagship iPhone 5S and the all-new 5C. Samsung just announced the monstrous Galaxy Note 3 and accompanying Galaxy Gear smartwatch. Motorola recently announced the flagship Moto X and three other more specially featured Droids for Verizon. The HTC One is available and looks great. Sony has the water-resistant Experia if you take calls in the shower. Do you like Blackberry? You're in luck; apparently nobody else does, so you should get quite a deal.
Here is a snapshot of some of the trade-in programs. Remember that values depend on the overall condition of the device as well as the amount of onboard memory.
Walmart: Historically not known as a bastion of cutting- edge technology, Big W has arguably the best trade-in program offering customers $50 to $300 toward a new working condition will fetch the full $300, the recently retired Samsung Galaxy S3 gets you about $150. An iPhone 4S will also garner about $150. In addition, the company is not bowing down to the retail price points that are strongly suggested by Apple and are actually undercutting just about everyone else by about $20 on the new iPhones.
Best Buy: If you're interested in a new iPhone 5, Best Buy will accept any working smartphone in exchange for $100 gift card, which essentially covers the price of the new phone. The trade-in value for a working iPhone 4S, the most likely candidate for Apple users, is about $175. An iPhone 4 will fetch around $100 depending on its condition. Older model phones like the Droid 2 or the HTC Incredible 2 are eligible but for far less. According to the trade-in page on Best Buy's website, either device would only garner about $15.
Verizon Wireless: Verizon has offered trade-in promotions for a couple years now but is ramping up the program to match the recent popularity. For example, a Samsung Galaxy S3 will get you about $110 and an iPhone 5, a handsome $300. Users can request a mailer and send the device for appraisal, after which they'll get a Verizon gift card.
Gazelle.com: Looking to sell your smartphone outright? This might be good if you want to purchase a new device and hang on to the old one for a few days to ensure everything transfers properly. Gazelle specializes in purchasing used electronics, including smartphones, and offers generous returns. Here's the exchange: a flawless iPhone 5, $325; iPhone 4S, $160; Samsung Galaxy S3, $165; HTC One, $250 and Motorola Droid Razr, $50.
It's as simple as getting on offer online, using the free shipping service and opting between a check, Amazon gift card or Paypal credit. Most payouts are made almost as soon as Gazelle receives the device.
Remember however, that your current device has valuable information on it. Be sure to back it up. Apple's users may use iCloud or iTunes to back up this information. Android phones can be backed up on a home computer or via downloadable apps. Once you are sure the information is secure, wipe out all sensitive information by doing a factory reset. If your device has a removable SD or SIM card, you will want to keep that for the new device. Don't forget to grab all those tangled up cords and other accessories, as they may fetch a few extra bucks as well.