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The best buyback programs

Jared Newman | March 15, 2011
The laws of geekdom state that a newer, shinier, more desirable gadget is always around the corner. And you usually want it. But do you have the bucks?

On the downside: Every time you visit BuyBackWorld's Website, a video of a woman waltzes onto the screen and starts telling you about the service. Few things are tackier than obnoxious, automatically playing audio.

Runner-up: If the BuyBackWorld lady creeps you out too much, consider Gazelle, which offers decent prices for e-readers and tablets (and no talkative antelopes).

Dishonorable mention: RadioShack offered the lowest trade-in values for Samsung's Galaxy Tab and for every generation of Kindle.

Digital Cameras: Gazelle

Gazelle listed the best prices and accepted every camera we threw in its direction. A Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR, for instance, commanded $87 in good condition; that's $9 higher than BuyMyTronics's offer and $23 higher than eBay Instant Sale's. For digital SLRs, you have the option with many models to trade in the lens as well as the body.

On the downside: On occasion, Gazelle requires that you sell a DSLR's lens as well as the camera body.

Runner-up: If you're trying to sell just a DSLR body, eBay Instant Sale may come through where Gazelle does not. The Pentax K2000, for example, sells for $127 without the lens through eBay Instant Sale and for $160 with the lens on Gazelle.

Dishonorable mention: Best Buy, BuyBackWorld, and YouRenew don't accept cameras at all. RadioShack does, but its deals are terrible. A Canon EOS Rebel XSi can fetch $185 on Gazelle, but only $103.43 through RadioShack.

TVs: Best Buy

The buyback market is not kind to televisions. Most online services won't accept them, leaving Best Buy as your main option, and the price you get for them ranges from 50 percent of original value within six months to 10 percent for a two- to four-year-old set. The up-front cost is only $60 for a sub-$500 television, but for TVs priced at $2500 and up, Best Buy demands a $300 prepayment to enroll in the buyback program. It's an option if you're terrified of eBay and Craigslist, but not a particularly good one.

On the downside: If you keep the TV for a while, you'll end up with very little compensation at trade-in time. For instance, a set originally priced at $1100 will net you only $10 after two years; and you'll lose $10 on a TV that cost $500 originally, once you factor in the $60 up-front cost. Also, Best Buy pays only in store credit.

Runner-up: RadioShack accepts a limited selection of televisions 42 inches and under. Most HDTVs from major brands trade for around $100.


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