You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Trade-in options abound for smartphones

Cash, or credit toward a new phone? Trade-in options abound.

Reuters/File 2013

Cash, or credit toward a new phone? Trade-in options abound.

Feeling stuck with your old smartphone? Do you covet new releases like the iPhone 5S that boast niftier features like fingerprint sensors?

There’s good news. A growing number of options allow you to trade in your old phone for cash or credit so you can buy a new one.

More choices

Continue reading below

The online site helped pioneer the trend toward recouping cash for your old smartphone or other gadget.

But a number of merchants have followed suit, including Walmart, which announced a trade-in program in recent weeks. Apple, which had offered a trade-in program online, launched one at its stores in August.

But if you’re looking to upgrade your smartphone, act quickly, because resale values are dropping now that Apple’s new iPhones — 5C and 5S — have been on sale for several weeks.

‘‘Shoppers have a lot more options than ever before. But you have to be savvy,’’ said Jeannette Pavini, a consumer savings expert at ‘‘It’s worth it to take the time to do your due diligence.’’

Online vs. in stores

Doing trade-ins online may be more convenient than walking into a store. But remember that you won’t know for sure how much you’ll get for your phone until the company checks it out and makes sure your assessment meets theirs.

For example, Amazon will deposit a gift card into your account assuming it agrees with your assessment of ‘‘like new,’’ ‘’good,’’ or ‘‘acceptable.’’ If it doesn’t, then you can receive a gift card for a lower amount or have the gadget returned.

One perk: Amazon just extended its lock-in program for trade-in values. That means you can create trade-in orders online but don’t have to send in the phone until you receive a new one, as long as you ship it by Oct. 31.

At Gamestop, you can trade more than 600 devices at any of the GameStop’s 4,400 US store locations.

You can also get estimated values at

All things iPhoneApple has perhaps one of the most stringent trade-in programs among retailers.

Apple’s US stores will take a working iPhone as old as the 3G.

But you will only be able to receive a gift card that must go toward the purchase of an iPhone on contract with a carrier.

And you can’t trade in several phones at a time.

Company officials declined to give price estimates, saying only that the prices depend on condition.

How much you’ll get

Pavini and others say that you should evaluate how stringent the program is and determine whether you want store credit or cash.

If you’re focusing on just getting the best price, the Associated Press found that redemption values varied, based on a spot check of trade-in programs for Apple iPhone 4S 32GB with AT&T service.

During a check this week, Gazelle was offering $205 in cash for a flawless version and $195 for one in good condition.

At Amazon, com, the gadget commanded $205 in ‘‘like new’’ condition and $187.75 in ‘‘good’’ condition.

‘‘Good’’ condition generally means the gadget works but may have limited signs of wear, like a small scratch.

Sometimes companies will offer other perks. Best Buy, for example, was giving out $50 gift cards with a trade-in and upgrade.

Cash or credit?

Pavini says it’s often better to take store credit than cash because you will probably get more. In general, iPhones hold their value more than Android phones.

Walmart launched a smartphone trade program in which you will receive a credit from $50 to $300 when you trade in your working, undamaged phone.

That’s considered a good offer. But the credit must be used toward the purchase of a new phone, with a selection of more than 100 devices to choose from.

And the trade-in has to be done at the same time you buy the new phone.

Paying for ease

Convenience also may trump deals.

Cullen McClure, global information services manager at Kurt Salmon, says that when convenience is high, you may not get the best price.

Among the most convenient options are trade-in kiosks at malls. San Diego-based ecoATM has been rapidly expanding at hundreds of malls.

The machine scans the device and dole out cash on the spot.

Loading comments...

Wake up with today's top stories.

Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
Please enter a valid email will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of