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How to: sell your old gadgets online

How to: sell your old gadgets online


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For people that love technology as much as we do, there are few moments as satisfying as a new gadget unboxing. But the question is, what do you do with your old gear? You could pack it off to a family member or you could sell it and put the proceeds towards your next purchase. As noble as the first option may be, the second will get you to your next unboxing that much faster, and doesn’t come with an unwritten technical support contract.

Get a feel for the market so that you don’t place your expectations unreasonably high

In this guide we’ll walk you through a number of options for making a sale — both locally and online — and how to get the highest possible return. The first step is to research how much to ask for your stuff. It’s important to get a feel for the market so that you don’t place your expectations unreasonably high, or worse, get swindled by a smooth-talking buyer. Amazon and eBay are good tools for this — they have an enormous number of users and a relatively quick turnover rate, forcing their prices for used goods as close to economic equilibrium as possible. A quick perusal of eBay’s "Completed Listings" filter will show you what other people are getting for similar items at varying degrees of wear and tear. Knowing this market-supported price allows you to choose how quickly your stuff will sell: naturally, the lower your asking price, the faster it’ll go.

Selling locally

If you’d rather not deal with online payments and packing up your devices, selling them locally can be a good option. Craigslist comes to mind first, but you can also sell your goods through stores like Best Buy and GameStop. This is the most convenient option, since all you have to do is print out a quote and drive to a clean, properly-lit store, but retailers will offer you a much lower rate than if you were to sell your devices on your own. There are other drawbacks, too, as BestBuy only offers gift cards in return for your goods. GameStop will offer you cash (at roughly 20 percent below what it’ll offer you in store credit), and it accepts both game-related merchandise and popular consumer electronics. If a moderate hit to the value of your return doesn't bother you, selling to a local retailer isn’t a bad choice, especially if you’re intent on buying your new gadgets from them anyway.

Then there’s Craigslist. Using Craigslist is a humbling and humanizing experience: you’ll be low-balled, contacted by shady characters, and asked to meet at odd hours and in strange places. Approaching the service with a good sense of humor is highly advised, but if you keep your wits about you, you’ll be able to sell your electronics to someone local for a good price during daylight hours.

Using Craigslist is a humbling and humanizing experience

The key to maximizing your sale on Craigslist is to be up front with your expectations. You know what your device is worth, so don't be afraid to indicate a firm stance on price right in the listing. You'll also have to be ready to turn people down: some hopeful customers will call and make ridiculous offers, just hoping you'll settle for a song. While these offers should be politely declined, a respectful level of negotiation is expected, so set your asking price near the higher end and be ready to slowly work your way down. Speaking of Craigslist calls, use Google Voice or a service like it to keep your real number from being entered into a robocall database.

Taking attractive pictures of your device, including the scuffs and scratches, will also help you maximize your return. Your potential buyers know that the devices they're looking for won't be perfect, so including any flaws in your pictures is a good way to build an element of trust. Be sure to take pictures in good lighting (preferably daylight) in addition to at least one shot of any included accessories.

Those who aren't so keen on venturing into the wilds of Craigslist can always fall back on the business of a local pawn shop. These may not be glamorous locations, but you can depend on them to offer you cash, albeit less than you'd get on Craigslist or eBay. Standing your ground with the shopkeeper will net you a few extra dollars, but keep in mind that they'll be ready for even the most veteran hagglers.

Selling online

Selling your old gadgets online is becoming more and more commonplace as stores like eBay, Amazon, and even specialty shops like Gazelle pine for your business. Each online store has their own terms and fees, but one thing is universally true: the more time you spend selling your devices, the more money you’ll make.

Hundreds and maybe even thousands of books have been written about how to sell your stuff on eBay, but the most important thing to consider are the selling fees. In addition to a listing fee, a certain percentage of your sale will be automatically deducted from your buyer's total payment depending on how you listed your item. The rates for both auction-style listings and Buy-It-Now transactions can be found on eBay’s fees page. Selling your item via Buy-It-Now will be preferable for most people, as it comes with slightly lower fees and is a speedy way to make a sale if you price your item just below its equilibrium price.

Once your item has sold, you next task will be to navigate through the menus of PayPal's website. If you already have a PayPal account setup, this step will be relatively easy -- you just receive your payment, less 2.2 to 2.9 percent (plus $0.30 per transaction) for PayPal's fees. Getting your money back to your bank account can be done through a wire transfer, a request for a PayPal branded MasterCard, or even with a regular check. There are a few hoops to jump through, but the process usually takes less than 30 minutes to get going.

Be prepared to jump through a few hoops no matter which method you choose

Selling through Amazon is a bit different than selling through other online retailers: you can sell and ship directly to your buyer, or you can send your goods directly to Amazon through the company’s "Fulfillment by Amazon" program — where your item will be stored and shipped when it’s purchased. The latter option does come with a few extra fees, but the added convenience of shipping your item directly to Amazon before the sale can be worth the extra cost to people who want to get everything done in one weekend without worrying about shipping items as they sell. The only major caveat to selling through Amazon is that the device you're selling must be already be available through the company's website. Since Amazon has an expansive inventory this is unlikely to be a problem for most, but you might run into problems if you're selling something extremely obscure.


Selling your used goods is a good way to reduce the cost of upgrading, and even though there are a litany of options out there, it doesn’t have to be a stressful process. Picking the right price and the right place to sell your goods constitutes the majority of the legwork, but once the sale has been made you’ll be that much closer to your next purchase. Don’t worry about those pangs of regret as your smartphone or tablet rides away on a UPS truck or with an excited Craigslist buyer — a good unboxing will put those to rest in short order.