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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?

Dishonorable mention: None of the other online services deal in televisions at all. The playing field is wide open.

Game Consoles: Gazelle

Once again Gazelle offered the best prices on average, but most surprising was its $80 offer for an original 20GB Xbox 360, which probably should be worth close to nothing. Haven't they heard of the Red Ring of Death?

On the downside: Searching for your console on Gazelle is a pain, because typing "Xbox 360" brings up a huge list of games that you can trade in, too. Use the 'gaming consoles' category link from Gazelle's home page instead.

Runner-up: BuyBackWorld offered $96 for an original 20GB PlayStation 3, compared to a puny $66 at Gazelle.

Dishonorable mention: Nintendo's DS Lite doesn't command a lot of trade-in money these days, but RadioShack's offer was the most insulting at $14.68. BuyMyTronics's offer of $15 for the PlayStation 2 Slim was just as bad. In comparision, Gazelle offers $36.

Blu-ray Players: Gazelle

Most trade-in programs don't accept Blu-ray players. Gazelle does--it's as simple as that.

On the downside: Don't expect a lot of cash in return. Samsung's BD-C7900, for example, costs $300 on Amazon but will generate only $125 in trade. If you have a two- or three-year-old Blu-ray player, you'll have to recycle it or try your luck with Craigslist or eBay.

Runner-up: RadioShack accepts some Blu-ray players, but the value's much worse than at Gazelle. LG's BD590, for instance, is worth $119 at Gazelle but only $56.16 at RadioShack.

Dishonorable mention: Everyone else. You might expect eBay Instant Sale to accept Blu-ray players, but no such luck.

The Bottom Line

Though we'd like to recommend one trade-in service that consistently trumps all the others, there's no clear winner across every category of tech products. Gazelle fared best on trade-in values for most categories, and it offers the greatest number of payment options, but it won't give you top dollar for smartphones and tablets.

For its part, NextWorth wasn't especially noteworthy in any particular category, but it does give you the option of trading in gadgets at Target and J&R in exchange for gift cards. RadioShack accepts trade-ins at its retail stores in exchange for credit, though its trade-in credits tend to be miserly.

The primary takeaway, then, is that you should be aware of all the trade-in programs at your disposal, and check each one when it's time to sell your next gadget. And the next time a Best Buy clerk pitches you on the store's buyback program, we recommend that you walk away.


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