As electronic devices proliferate, retailers are seeing record numbers of used laptops, smartphones and tablets being sold for quick cash or credit.
Best Buy launched a trade-in program in 2009 for items such as cellphones, video games and computers, and it’s getting more popular every year. It now accepts more than 11,000 different items. “The trade-in volume has doubled every year since 2009,” Jeff Shelman, a Best Buy spokesman, wrote in an email.
Fortunately for bargain hunters, there are plenty of consumers who want the latest and greatest technology, requiring them to get rid of a still-valuable model from a year or two ago. Because the value of the items may range from $50 to $200 or more, they aren’t sitting forgotten in a drawer anymore. Consumers now upgrade their smartphones every 12 to 18 months (less often for tablets and laptops), said Louis Ramirez at DealNews.com.
“Manufacturers are refreshing their product lines so quickly that it’s creating a bump for used electronics,” he said.
People are trying to maintain their devices in mint condition, and keep the original box and manual, because they’ve learned that they get more cash or credit for them, Ramirez said.
Consumers have a flurry of options to unload their old, but not too old, technology. Pawnshops have been a popular go-to for many years, but retailers such as Best Buy, Target, Walmart and Radio Shack offer store credit in exchange for used personal electronics online or in stores.
So many sites will pay cash to people who mail in used devices (Gazelle.com, BuyBackWorld.com and Nextworth.com) that aggregators such as Usell.com have popped up, listing bids from multiple resellers.
In fact, an hour after Apple CEO Tim Cook debuted the iPhone 5S and 5C models on Sept. 10, Gazelle was getting 600 offers per second on earlier models, according to Anthony Scarsella, chief gadget officer at Gazelle.com.
Manufacturers are joining the fray, too. Apple offers store credit while Samsung offers a prepaid Visa card. “Why let Amazon take their lunch when manufacturers can buy these items directly from the consumer?” Ramirez said.