The Beginner’s Guide to Selling Old Electronics


If you have an old laptop, smartphone, or tablet laying around collecting dust, you could turn it into extra quid with just a few steps of work. Here’s a quick guide for any beginner interested in trading their old tech and gadgets to make money.

Preparing your device for sale or trade.

Throwing away your old electronics is environmentally irresponsible, but most electronic recycling facilities won’t give you cash for your device. Therefore, trading or selling it is often your best bet to recoup some of the money you invested in the device in the first place.

Before you sell your device, make sure you wipe the hard drive for computers or factory reset the device for game consoles, smartphones, and tablets, it can usually be done in a few simple steps. If you trade the device without doing this, the new owner has access to all of your personal information.

How to trade in old tech and gadgets.

Once you have wiped and factory reset your device, your next decision is choosing where you will go to trade or sell. Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are popular destinations for selling locally to get cash in hand that day. Certain pawn shops also offer a cash or trade program for old devices, so that may be an option.

Specialty trade sites like Gazelle and Sell Tech will also offer you some cash for trading in old tech or gadgets, but it will be less than selling the device yourself. These companies will offer you a flat fee based on the condition of your device with the intention of reselling it later, which is why they do not pay as well as selling it yourself.

Which devices are worth trading in?

So how do you know if you have an old gadget that still has some life left in it? Browse around sites like Swappa or Facebook Marketplace to see what is selling in your local area. Apple products are pretty much always resellable since they’re in high demand, but Android smartphones are a much more grey area. Devices from manufacturers like Samsung and HTC typically have high resell values, but low-end smartphones such as those from prepaid carriers won’t net a high resell value.

Overall, make sure the device has been cleaned thoroughly both inside and out before you decide to sell it. Give it a good cleaning with rubbing alcohol after you’ve factory reset the operating system to be fresh, so your device looks brand new. If there are any dings or scratches in the device, be upfront and honest about these to potential buyers or trades.

Remember to practice common sales practices. Nobody wants to feel as though they’ve been bamboozled in a gadget trade. If possible, take pictures of the device, so you have evidence of the condition of it before you sold it to the next party. Make sure you reiterate that the deal is final once the gadget leaves your hands, as some people like to scam by having a similar device as the one advertised but in much worse shape and then ask for their money back while keeping your device and giving you their old, crappy tech.

For more technology tips, check out our extensive tech section!


Lifehacker | How to Properly Clean All Your Gadgets Without Ruining Them

AT&T Experience | How to Wipe your iPhone before Trade-in: 5 Simple Steps

Techlicious | The Best Places to Trade-in Your Electronics