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Getting money for old gadgets can be tricky

Tech gear buy-back programs sound good. But shop carefully; with some program, you may end up paying more for the privilege of trading in your item than you get back in your payout.
/ Source: Techlicious

Best Buy recently started its “Buy Back” program that allows you to trade in your electronics at a later date for a set price. But in order to be eligible, you have to buy the contract that sets your buy-back price at the time of purchase. That doesn’t do you a lot of good if you’re like me and you already have a drawer full of old electronics at home that you don’t know what to do with.

There are also two big problems with buy-back programs in general. First, you can’t guarantee that your item will be in good condition when you want to turn it in. My uncle dropped my new iPod Touch over the holidays and cracked the screen, my 2-year-old decided a Thomas the Train sticker would look nice on the side of our TV … you get the picture.Second, you’ll most likely end up paying more for the privilege of trading in your item than you get back in your payout. The only real value is if you trade-in your product within the first six months of buying it.

But don’t just throw those old electronic items out, either. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, electronic waste contributes 70 percent of the toxins found in landfills while only contributing 1 percent of the volume of materials.

Fortunately, there is a much better solution that lets you easily turn some of your gear into cash and recycle the rest.

There are a number of reputable websites and major retailers that will buy your unwanted stuff, often for more money than you may think. They will even pick up the shipping costs and, in some cases, send packing materials, or let you take the product to a store near you. And if the gear is truly worthless, they’ll even recycle it for you.

The first step is determining your item’s value. The best way to do that is by going to,, and Gazelle, NextWorth and CExchange run the trade-in programs for several of the major retailers (Costco, Target and RadioShack, respectively), so you’ll get a sense for what they’d offer as well.On each site, you’ll list the product you want to sell, answer some questions about the condition it’s in and you’ll get an estimated trade-in value.

It’s important to check more than one trade-in program. The amount offered for the same item in the same condition can vary widely from site to site — even when the two programs are powered by the same trade-in company. For instance, RadioShack, whose trade-in program is powered by CExchange, was recently offering $110.64 for a 42-inch TH-42PX80U Panasonic plasma TV, while CExchange itself was offering as much as $184.40.

If you’re looking to trade-up on a cell phone, say to get the new Verizon iPhone 4, lets you compare prices across most of the major trade-in sites. They also offer recycling for gear in many other categories.

Once your product has been received by the trade-in site, they’ll verify that the condition matches your description. If it’s a match, you’ll get a check within a few weeks. The amount you’re paid can vary with the type of compensation you choose. For instance, will pay you a 5 percent bonus for choosing an gift card rather than a check or PayPal account deposit.

With retailer programs, you bring your product in for evaluation by a store employee, who can pay on the spot. But often the only option is a gift card or trade-in credit instead of cash.

Now it’s time for me to start cleaning out that drawer. Let’s see, two old cell phones, an old laptop, three digital cameras, my old Kindle …

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