Gold prices are at record highs but selling old jewellery isn’t the only way to make fast cash. Your unwanted gadgets could be worth a small fortune
The best price of £115 given by Sellmobilephones was confirmed at Cashmyfone, but that price is offered only for a phone in its original box with all original accessories. If these aren’t available, then the next best price found during our search was £113.11 via Comparemymobile, but this dropped to £106.10 when checked at the original Cash4phones site.
A price of £107 couldn’t be bettered by any of the recycling services not checked by these comparison sites, but it’s worth noting that Moneyforyourphone reserves the right to reduce its offer based on the condition of the phone and it doesn’t ask for this information up front. O2, on the other hand, offered £98.50 for a bare iPhone 3GS 16GB and didn’t care whether it had chips, scratches or other signs of wear and tear – the phone simply had to be fully functional.
Cash or voucher?
Evidently, getting the best price from a gadget-recycling service involves more than simply accepting a price at face value, but that’s not the only consideration. Something else to think about is how you want to be paid, not least since the payment method can affect the amount.
Posted cheques or electronic (BACS) transfers are two common payment options, but some services offer payment in gift vouchers as an alternative. The important point to note here is that voucher payments are usually higher than those made in cash.
Mobilephonexchange, for example, offered a £106 cash payment for our iPhone 3GS 16GB. Alternatively, we could have accepted £116 (nearly 10 per cent more) in Argos vouchers or £122 (15 per cent more) in Debenhams vouchers.
That makes gift vouchers a great way to maximise the return on a recycled gadget – and make particular sense if you’re about to buy something from the associated retailer anyway – but remember that, while vouchers don’t need to be spent all at once, they may expire if not used.
Timing is everything
When to recycle can also greatly affect the amount of money paid for a device. When a manufacturer announces a new model of Device X, for example, existing owners tend to flood the second-hand and recycling markets with old models to generate funds for their imminent upgrade to Device Y.
Unfortunately, increased supply means decreased demand and recycling service prices drop accordingly – but there is a way around this.
Let’s take the new (third-generation) iPad as an example. Speculation about a new iPad started almost immediately after the iPad 2 launch in 2011, but its existence was only confirmed once Apple sent out invitations a week before its 7 March 2012 launch event.
Upon learning of the announcement, canny owners of older iPads immediately accepted a price from a recycling service – a price that hadn’t yet changed – because a new iPad hadn’t actually been announced.
As a result, in the week leading up to 7 March this year, it was still possible to find recycling services prepared to pay up to £180 for an original iPad 16GB with Wifi – not bad for a two-year-old device.
The key here is that once a recycling service offers a price for a device, it’s guaranteed for a fixed period – typically 14 days. So, even if Apple ended up announcing free iPads for all come 7 March, those owners of older iPads who had secured a recycling price in the days before were still guaranteed a payment – and still had two weeks in which to claim it.
On the other hand, if Apple announced that its new iPad would cost £900 and be made from radioactive metal, those owners could keep their current model and simply ignore the recycling service offer – the guaranteed price simply expires if the device isn’t sent off within that two-week window.
Of course, the new iPad turned out to be a desirable tablet and so anyone who waited until 8 March to see what their iPad 16GB with Wifi would fetch found that recycling services now only offered £100 – an £80 drop.
Keeping abreast of particular products you’re interested in via technology magazines and websites is a great way to get an early warning about new models so you can plan your recycling accordingly.
Other ways to sell
If you’re not convinced that recycling services offer the best deal for a particular device, then by all means consider selling second-hand, but don’t automatically assume you’ll make more money that way.
Ebay is usually the first port of call when it comes to selling to strangers, as opposed to a friend or relative (an option that shouldn’t be forgotten, by the way). However, at the time of writing, a refurbished iPhone 3GS 16GB is available with a ‘Buy it now’ price of £160, while used models sell for around £80.
Creating a compelling auction listing takes time too, and seller fees will need to be deducted from a successful sale - not that a sale at any price is guaranteed, of course, since potential buyers have hundreds of iPhones to choose from.
It’s a similar story with Amazon Marketplace. Used iPhone 3GS 16GB prices are a little higher than Ebay’s, but an item can be on sale for weeks without attracting any interest.
One potential exception here is Cex, an electronics exchange with stores across the UK and online.
Prices offered in-store for second-hand products vary from outlet to outlet, but online prices are competitive and at the time of writing an unlocked iPhone 3GS 16GB in good condition attracted a price of £112, or up to £203 when used in part-exchange for another purchase from Cex.
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