old cell phones in a stackBy Alexandra Gekas
From reading on eReaders to listening to music on MP3 players to surfing the Internet, playing games and, of course, talking and texting on cell phones, we use gadgets more and more for our everyday activities. But one of the casualties of a technology-driven culture is the constant need to upgrade to new devices-and the dilemma of what to do with our old ones once they're obsolete. Luckily, an entire infrastructure is popping up to handle this very problem. Read on for four profitable ways to purge your old electronics, plus how to recycle them if you can't close a sale. Photo by:Thinkstock
Sell them for cash.
Sites like Gazelle.com and NextWorth.com offer money for gadgets like cell phones, iPods, eReaders and computers. At Gazelle.com, the average item goes for about $150, though they take mostly Apple products and smartphones by LG, Samsung and Nokia. Look through their online catalogue to find your device and answer a few questions about its condition. They will then send you a shipping label and a box, and you'll get paid by check or PayPal-your choice-within five days of receipt, says Anthony Scarsella, Gazelle Chief Gadget Officer. If you go through Nextworth, you can also get a check or a PayPal deposit.
Turn your clutter into cash.
Sell them for gift cards or store credit.
One of the most common ways to profit off of used electronics, retailers like Target, Radio Shack, Best Buy and Wal-Mart will take your used gadgets, no matter where you purchased them, in exchange for gift cards. "Go to our online trade-in center's calculator to get an idea of how much you can get for your electronics," says Ismael Matos, Deputy Field Marshall for Best Buy. "Or bring it to our Geek Squad precinct at any Best Buy store for an estimate." You can then trade in your item online or in store. Wal-Mart, on the other hand, only takes trade-ins through their online trade-in center. Tell them what kind of shape your gadget is in and then print a shipping label. Once the warehouse receives the item, you'll get an email with an electronic gift card, which can be used only online. Target offers both online and in-store trade-ins, as does RadioShack. Amazon.com takes trade-ins, too. Plus, at Gazelle.com, "If you choose to be paid with an Amazon gift card, you get an additional 5% fee," says Scarsella. And Nextworth offers e-gift cards for Target.com.
Donate them to charity for a tax write-off.
If making fast money isn't your primary concern, but you need a little financial incentive to get the gadgets out of your house, consider donating them to charity. "You won't receive cash up front, but you can use the donation as a tax deduction," says Andrew Schrage, co-owner of MoneyCrashers.com, a personal finance website. "Keep accurate written records for all donations throughout the year, and retain a receipt for any donated item worth more than $250. Also, be sure to donate to an IRS-recognized charity." Websites like EcyclingCentral.com can help you find legitimate organizations in your area that accept old electronics.
Learn how to get tax deductions for your donations.
Sell them to collectors.
While the electronics you have lying around are likely a few years old tops, there's a small chance that you're sitting on something very valuable-if it's a collector's item, that is. "About 5% of old electronics fall into this category," says Patrick Van der Vorst, founder of ValueMyStuff.com. "This is a new market that's driven by the uniqueness of the item." For instance, Van der Vorst says the Apple-1 Computer is selling for as much as $200,000. "The usability is not the primary focus-collectors are buying it to stow away as an investment," he says. While old gramophones and typewriters are obviously collectibles, functioning first-generation iPods count, too. "Most would've stopped working by now, so they become collectible because there are so few operational examples left, adds Van der Vorst.
Can't sell? At least recycle them properly.
Electronics are particularly bad for the environment and are hurting developing countries where many of them are being sent as waste. "If your gadget's too old or worn to sell or donate, recycle it through your municipal waste program or an eco-friendly recycler," says Colleen Pantalone, Associate Professor of Finance at Northwestern University. Find local recycling programs at EcyclingCentral.com. Or check out manufacturers' take-back programs-ElectronicsTakeBack.com lists brands and their rules. Many trade-in programs, like the one at Best Buy, also accept unusable electronics, and they'll recycle them for you at no cost.
Recycle your electronics with 10 no-fuss tips.
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