iPhone

Trade-in time! Options galore for off-loading your old iPhone

Sep. 20, 2013 at 2:30 PM ET

iPhone 5Cs and 5S
Wilson Rothman / NBC News
The new iPhones; you've got lots of options for trading your old one.

While you might not find the iPhone you want today, you won't find a lack of trade-in offers and options for your old iPhone.

If you're trading your iPhone 5, which came out last year, there will be little difference in trade-in prices, no matter if it's a Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile version. That's because the iPhone 5 runs on those carriers' 4G networks, which are found all over the world. You'll see a bigger discrepancy in prices for earlier iPhones that run on Verizon and Sprint's networks, because they're less compatible than AT&T and T-Mobile phones, internationally.

That said, here are the trade-in options being offered today. "Today" is the operative word. The trade-in market is always shifting, and be aware that prices will drop, although some businesses offer a 30-day price guarantee in order to give you time to get your new phone and send in the old one.

Gazelle and NextWorth 
Both of these popular trade-in sites do offer a 30-day price lock once you've been given a trade-in quote by them. Gazelle is offering a bit longer price lock, until Oct. 31, if you set a trade-in price today. 

On Friday, Gazelle was offering $190 for an 16GB iPhone 4S on AT&T's network; the same phone, from Verizon fetches $160. A 16GB iPhone 5 can bring $310 from either carrier. The pricing is based on the phone being in "good" condition.

At NextWorth, they're offering $210 for a 16GB iPhone 4S on AT&T's network; the same phone from Verizon, $155. A 16GB iPhone 5 from either carrier is $310.

NextWorth also has a "bonus" starting Tuesday if you refer a friend to them through Oct. 31. "Referrers get $20 for referring friends who trade-in iPhones over $50. The referred friends also receive a 10 percent bonus on their trade-ins," the site says.

Gazelle noted Friday morning that it was seeing four times as many iPhone trade-ins today "than during the same time frame on iPhone release day last year."

Anthony Scarsella, Gazelle's chief gadget officer (yes, that's his title!), told NBC News because Apple didn't offer a pre-order on the iPhone 5S, "consumers had to wait until today to lock in the price of their older devices, which is a leading reason for Gazelle's significant traffic boost."

Walmart, BestBuy, Target
It's not just trade-in sites that are in the game. So are retailers. Starting Saturday, Walmart will offer customers an immediate credit of $50 to $300, not just for trading in their old iPhones, but for more than 100 other smartphone models, that can be used toward the purchase of a new smartphone. A working, non-damaged iPhone 5 would bring $300, the company says.

"Customers should bring their working smartphone to an associate in the electronics department at participating Walmart stores and Sam’s Club locations," Walmart said in a press release. "In partnership with CExchange, the value of the smartphone will then be assessed by answering simple, unbiased questions on the device’s condition and specifications."

BestBuy and Target also have trade-in programs.

Apple
For the first time, Apple itself is giving customers who want to trade their old iPhones up to $280 of either in-store credit or money to be used for a new iPhone.

Amazon and eBay
Amazon's trade-in program lets customers trade their old iPhones for Amazon Gift Cards. 

"The 16GB iPhone 4 AT&T edition is the most popularly traded-in iPhone and customers can currently earn an Amazon Gift Card for up to $160 for this model," the company said Friday in a statement.

Amazon is also extending its price "lock-in" period for trade-ins until Oct. 31.

"Customers can also sell their iPhones directly to tens of millions of Amazon shoppers by listing it for sale used on Amazon.com. To list an iPhone for sale, visit www.amazon.com/sellyouriphone.

If none of these options appeal to you, there's also eBay, of course. While the site no longer has its instant trade-in program, it uses a "My Gadgets" program instead, to find the value of your phone, then easily post it for sale on eBay. 

"Currently, the average selling price for an 16GB iPhone 5 Verizon edition is $410," an eBay spokeswoman told NBC News Friday.

No matter which route you choose, happy trade-in hunting!

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Video: Tour the line to get into the Apple Store in NYC on the day of the release of the new iPhones


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