How to Sell Your Old Tech

Mobile Phone MoneyWe’re geeks, we always want the latest and greatest.  As technology evolves, your piece of New Hotness eventually becomes the Old and Busted and you get the New New Hotness.  What do you do with your old device once you’re through with it?  You could keep and add to the collection of tech sitting in your basement, but I’m going to tell you where to sell it.


Craigslist is the online equivalent of the classified ads in the back of the newspaper.  While it’s online, it’s set up for your local area and they stay out of the way. You can offer what you have or search for anyone else who’s looking for it.  Posting is free, so presumably you get it all.  You also would presumably not have to pay shipping.

Here’s the catch: It’s overwhelmingly likely you’ll have to meet this person… in person.  There is no safety net,  so try to meet to a public place, but make sure they allow this kind of transaction or you could find yourself afoul of panhandling laws.  You could also invite them to your home… but what could go wrong?

Pile of Flip PhonesYou also have to deal with payment on your own.  You’re also on your own if you live in an area like the state of Iowa and they require sales tax on private transactions.  I wouldn’t recommend a check (and make it clear you won’t take one), so you have three options: cash, credit and PayPal.  Cash is the easiest way, but you have to go deposit it in the ATM.  If they have a credit card, there is good news.  Both Square and PayPal offer card readers for free.  They fit into the headphone jack of your smartphone or tablet and effectively turn your device into a register.  Both support the four major credit card types: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discovery, and the PayPal register app also accepts checks and your PayPal account.  Both come with a 2.7% fee for processing.  The Square app will deposit the money right into your bank account and the PayPal goes right to your PayPal.  Which is the other way you can do it.  Have their PayPal send the money to your PayPal.


There are competing online marketplaces like eBid and uBid, but if you want the most reach, eBay is the place to sell your wares.  They give you two different options: An auction where there’s a beginning price and wherever it goes from there is up to potential buyers, or a fixed “buy it now” price.  The buy it now option, like I said, is a fixed price.  Whenever it sells, it sells… if it sells.  Price it too high and you might scare off potential buyers.  Price it too low and you might not get the best value for yourself.

Auctions are the big unknown.  You go into them not having a clue exactly what you’ll get on the other side.  Catch it on the wrong week and you could find yourself selling your now former tech for pennies on the dollar.  Catch it on the right day and you could find your item caught up in a bidding war that brings you top dollar. The downside here is that you have to wait a period of time, usually, 7 days while the auction is ongoing.

Stack of iPhonesThe other downside is that unless you are a large business seller, they hold your payment until the buyer receives it.  That means for about a week or two afterwards, you’re on the hook for shipping and giving eBay their cut (it’s not automatically taken out).  For payment there’s a 99.999% chance they’ll be using eBay-owned PayPal. Fees vary, but between listing fees, eBay’s percentage, and PayPal fees, eBay got around 15% of the last item I sold.  That might sound like a lot, but compared to some options, it’s really not.


The options I gave above were sales to an individual, but you can also sell your device to a business.  Since they are trying to resell it, you are going to get somewhere in the 40-70% value range compared to what you’d tell with a private sale.  The advantage is that you get no hassles.  You trade-in and you get immediate payment. You have really two options: online or in-store.

Gazelle ScreenshotIf you want free and clear cash, you’ll want to check out Gazelle or BuyMyTronics.  You search for your old device, pick the one that matches what you’ve got, and they give you a price.  They then send you a prepaid box to ship to them.  Once they inspect it, you get paid.

The other option is with a known retailer.  Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target, Radioshack, the Apple Store, and most carrier stores have a trade-in program of various degrees.  Whether they will take everything from TVs to computers or just mobile devices dpends on the retailer.  The advantage to in-store credit is that since you’re not going anywhere, they’re more inclined to give you more money.  When I sold my iPhone 3GS, Gazelle was willing to give me only ~$25.  Target/Radioshack give me ~$45.  The disadvantage is that you’re not going anywhere and you have to spend it at one retailer. For your best price, look at all the available options.  Also, understand that these prices will fluctuate.


Hopefully these were of some help to you.  As always, if there’s another option that I missed and you swear by, please leave us a comment.  If you don’t like an option we gave, we want to hear about that, too.


    • alxROCK says

      yeah, is great. I sold my tablet through there and it was way better than dealing with craigslist or eBay.