How to make good money selling used tech online

According to used-electronics site Decluttr, you could make up to $900 selling a used cellphone and up to $1,700 selling a used, top-of-the-line Apple computer.

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While at home during the coronavirus pandemic, many people are taking the opportunity to clean out their closets and to see if their used items are worth any money. Don't forget to check in your junk drawer, too: Old technology and media can still be worth hundreds of dollars at trade-in sites.

Decluttr, a site that buys used tech like CDs, video game consoles, and cameras, said in a recent blog post that it had seen a 24% increase in activity between March and May. Trade-ins of old cellphones, specifically, were up 36%.

Depending on the item and its condition, you could pull in substantial money. At Decluttr, for example, a CD could be worth up to $3, while Apple computers, like a top-of-the-line MacBook Pro, could fetch as much as $1,700.

You may be able to make more money by selling a gadget yourself, but trade-in sites can make the process of finding a reliable buyer faster and easier. They are "really good for people that don't want to [work too hard] to sell anything," says Daniella Flores, a side hustle blogger. "They just want to get rid of it."

How to sell your old gadgets

The first step to trading in your old tech is to hunt around and compare prices. There are numerous places you might trade in your tech, including:

Pay attention to the offer details, which can affect the value of your payout. Some sites may pay you in store credit or retailer gift cards rather than cash, for example. And there's generally fine print that you may receive less than estimated if your gadget is in worse condition than described.

Once you settle on a trade-in partner, generally, the process works like this: You enter details about your devices to get an estimate of their value. After you agree to the price and complete the order, the site will send you a prepaid shipping label or a kit to mail in your item. (Be sure to wipe the device of your personal information before you send it out.) When the trade-in site receives your item, it will inspect it and send you an electronic payment.

From start to finish, the whole process can take a few weeks. 

Most retailers and wireless carriers also do in-store trade-ins that allow for faster turnarounds — and faster payments. But due to the pandemic, it's worth calling ahead to make sure the store is conducting such in-person transactions. To limit your risk, make sure to adhere to social distancing protocols while in the store.

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