If you are like me, you have a growing stockpile of electronics that are sitting unused or growing out dated quickly. 

By now, you may be aware of programs that are designed to give you options to turn in your used tech gear for cash, gift cards or even for making a charitable donation.  Perhaps heard the radio ads for new online companies like Gazelle (now Second Rotation) who are encouraging you to get busy dusting those old products off before they lose even more value!   You can trade in just about anything tech - cell phones, personal computers, iPads, digital cameras, video recorders and more. 

The recession and the green movement are seeming to drive this activity.  Retailer's are getting in on the act too, with active trade-in programs and "protection plans" that gaurantee a trade in value if you bring the product back to the store within a given time frame.   Other variations include a combination of Trade-in online or at a retail store.  

I did a quick analysis of some of these programs so you can make an informed decision when you decide to do some Spring Tech-house cleaning!  In this post, I discuss Online Recyclers, Buy Back Plans and Retailers who will allow you to bring in your gear to their location for a trade-in for cash or gift card.

First - let's look at the various ways you can move your gear through online storefronts.  In the chart below, I have quickly profiled BuyMytronics.com, Gazelle.com, Nextworth.com, Ebay and Craigslist as your sales vehicle.   While you may be able to get more money by selling through Ebay or Craigslist - the other three make it super easy, which could be good if you are the procastinating type!   Just log in, find the product that you want to sell, provide honest information on the condition of your gadget, get a quote, accept the quote, pack it up, send it and get paid.   Not much to it.  

I used a 3 year old iPod Touch, 2nd Generation to compare what you could expect to get in the various selling methods. 
  - GT's Pole Position PickNextWorth.  They provided the highest payout for the Touch and seem fairly willing to accept what you tell them about condition.   This is like the stock market though, it changes daily and it's so easy to get a quote, I would recommend getting a quote from all of the Recycler's to make sure you get the most for your gear.
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Next, I took a look at one of the Buy Back protection plans.  This is where you can up-front, buy a "trade in value" if you will, at the time of purchase for your gear.  You ususally have up to 30 days to purchase such a plan - so you have a little time to consider it, which I think you should.    BestBuy is one of the stores offering such a program or you can buy a plan for $39.95 directly from a site called "TechForward" (www.techforward.com).   I broke out a few examples below.  

A couple of analysis points to call out:   In the iPod Touch, 2nd Generation example, we are well past the 24 month period (it's a 3 year old product) and you can see you would get more for it through one of the Online Recyclers like NextWorth.  I would suspect that this scenario would play out for just about any PC or Mac, so I can't truly recommend such a program.  The exception could be Cell Phones.   TechForward uses the un-subsidized price of your phone to determine the payout - if you look at the 32GB iPhone 4 example, you can see that it could be a pretty good deal.  Most of us buy our phones with a subsidized price, so if you had obtained your iPhone 4 for $299.99, you would get $360.00 if you turned it in within 6 months, and $280 if you used it for a year and turned it in.  You'd be making money on the deal in 6 months!   (Ignore the $299 iPhone 4 section in this table, it was just there to show you how it would look if they didn't use the full, unsubsidized price).    BuyMyTronics, in contrast - pays pretty well too, and you are not restricted to a specific time period to get that price.  That's the going rate, right now.   In short, I would mostly "just say no" to the Buy Back programs.  Not a sweet enough deal - just an easy one.
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Lastly, RETAILERS.   This is worth checking into if you are a frequent shopper at places like Radio Shack, Target or other brick and morter locations that sell electronics.   These retailers allow you to bring your product to the store and they will provide you with a gift card  loaded with the value of your trade-in, to use in their store on the spot.   If you aren't into the whole quote-pack-mail scenario, this could be for you.   It's still a good idea to go to the retailer's website first to get an idea on how their plan works and see if they offer a quote before you drag your goods to the store.  Some retailers also have limitations on how many products you can bring in at once.   I would recommend getting a quote from one of the Online Recyclers too just to make sure you have a good understanding of the value of your product.

That's all for today folks - let me know if you found this post useful or share your experience! 

-- GT