Just like several other online buyback programs, Amazon allows consumers to trade-in their electronics. A few months ago I reviewed my experience with Gazelle.com, and I figured it was time to test one of their competitors. Amazon offers the same service, you select the phone you want to trade in, Amazon shows you an offer, if you like the offer then you mail them your device.
For my Gazelle experiment, I tested their service with my girlfriend’s old iPhone 4. I didn’t have any extra used iPhones around to use for Amazon so I decided to trade in an iPad 2. I received the iPad a few years ago as a gift but I barely use it. I could see myself using it often if I flew frequently, however I rarely fly when traveling. I use my Macbook Pro at home and my iPhone on the go.
Amazon allows you to trade in all sorts of electronic devices. To begin, go to Amazon’s trade-in homepage where they will explain to you the process. As instructed, search on Amazon for the product you want to sell to them. In my case, I was trading in a black Apple iPad 2 32GB, WiFi only. Once you select the item you are trading in, it will bring up a page with all the details about the product.
On the right side of the page, their is a box that is labeled “Sell Us Your Item”. It shows a price and has a button that says Trade-in. When you click the trade-in button you will be asked to sign in with your Amazon user account. You must create an account if you don’t already have one. The great thing about Amazon is that almost everyone has ordered something from their website before, so you probably already have a user account.
After you sign in, you will come to a page that looks like a shopping cart; however, instead of the customer paying Amazon, it shows what Amazon is going to pay the customer in exchange for the iPad. On this screen I chose the condition of the iPad, which I consider to be “good” since it barely has any physical wear. When you hover over each condition, Amazon shows you their definition of each condition. The nice thing is that if Amazon thinks you device is in better description then you described when they receive it, they will honor the higher offer and you will receive a better trade-in deal. On the down side, they can also determine it is in worse condition and change your offer to less money back. Amazon describes the “good” condition as the following:
- Item shows wear from normal use
- Item remains in good condition with working buttons, scroll wheel, and audio
- Item has a flawless display (i.e. no dead spots or scratches)
- Item may have light body scratches only and no personalization (markings or engraving)
- Item includes charging adapter and USB cable
Amazon offered me$162.25 for my iPad 2. At first glance, this seems great considering that I originally received this tablet as a gift, and I don’t really use it anyways. But let’s not forget, there are other buyback websites and marketplaces I can sell my iPad 2 on. I took a quick look at the Gazelle website for comparison. Gazelle offered me $150 for my iPad. Compared to Gazelle, Amazon seems like the best deal. I looked on eBay also and saw that the iPad 2’s are selling for around $250. Obviously, I could sell my iPad for a lot more money on eBay, however the point of the Amazon trade-in program is supposed to be convenience. For the sake of this review, I continued with Amazon.
After choosing the condition and continuing onto the next page, Amazon asks about shipping preferences. You can select UPS and Amazon will pay for your shipping label. You will still have to package the device and drop it off at a UPS store. As an alternative, you can choose not to use UPS but then you will have to pay for all the shipping expenses on your own. Below the shipping method, you can select the address you are shipping your device from, which will be printed on the shipping label.
The next page, Amazon asks what you would like to happen if they determine the iPad isn’t in as good of condition as I declared it was. If I select the first option, they will simply return the iPad. That means you have nothing to lose, and if Amazon doesn’t think your device is worth what they offered they will simply mail it back to you. If I choose the alternative, they will pay me less money. I think this is one of the great features of the Amazon trade-in program. Most of the in-store offers and even most of the other buyback websites will try to give you as little as possible, or some only offer one price regardless of the condition. Amazon rewards you for keeping the device in like-new condition and will give you more money for it. The last two steps of the process are to review your trade-in details, confirm, and print the shipping label.
One of the negatives of Amazon is that you have to supply your own box to ship your device in. Several other buyback websites will send you the box and shipping label, while Amazon only provides you a paid shipping label. Make sure you securely package the device in the box. You don’t want to risk your mobile device getting damaged in transit. Use plenty of bubble wrap around whatever it is you are shipping. Amazon gives a date you must ship the item by, otherwise the offer is no longer valid. Amazon is notified by UPS when the item is shipped so make sure to ship the item by the deadline they give you.
Amazon Is All About Convenience
I submitted my iPad to be traded-in on Amazon’s website on Thursday, September 19th. I shipped my iPad out to Amazon with the UPS label they provided me on the next day, September 20th. I had kept all the original materials that came with the iPad including the box, manuals, and USB cord. I included all of these with my package to ensure that Amazon would provide the most money. Seven days later, on Friday, September 27th, I received a credit confirmation email from Amazon.com about the iPad 2. The email basically said that they received the tablet and put the $162.25 into my account as a gift card which could be put towards any of millions of products on their site. It only took one week to get to complete the trade-in process from the day I shipped out the device. If this is too long to wait, you can try visiting an in-store buyback program such as Best Buy, Apple Store, or Gamestop where they will give you store credit in the same day.
I have found that Amazon.com consistently offers the most money back for used cell phones, however the downfall is that they only pay you with Amazon gift cards. While other services will give you cash back that you can use anywhere, Amazon is more limited. This may be why they offer more value than the other services. If you’re going to spend the money on Amazon anyways, you might as well go with the Amazon program. If you need cash, I would take a look at Gazelle. If you find that Amazon offers you a lot more for your device but you still want cash, you could always opt for the gift card and then sell the gift card on eBay. You will probably lose some of the value in the sale, but you might be able to get away with more money in our pocket at the end of the day.
Before using the Amazon service, I read about what the Internet’s consensus was. It seems a lot of people were pissed off with Amazon because Amazon’s team decided that the item did not meet their requirements and either offered less or shipped the item back to the owner. I want to clarify that I did not have this issue. A lot of people have complained that Amazon is a scam because of this. Although I didn’t have this problem, I don’t think this qualifies as a scam since they are shipping the device back exactly as it had arrived. At the end of the day, Amazon is paying for these devices and if they don’t agree with the quality of the device, they don’t have to accept it, as stated in their terms. You are selling your items to a business, who then needs to not only recoup their investment in your item, but also turn a profit to make the entire process worth it. These services, gazelle, eBay, amazon, and the like, all advertise that they will give you the most for your used item. They do not mean the best street value price, it means the best price from a business. A middlman.
If this is something you are worried about, I recommend you go with eBay or Craigslist. You will get more money selling directly to another consumer, except you will have to deal with the hassle of auctions, fees, shipping expenses, or meeting a buyer in person. THAT’S the best deal. Aside form selling it to a friend, that’s the only way you will truly get top dollar for your device. The Amazon trade-in program is designed to make your life easier, and I agree it does that very well. I highly recommend this service as long as you are content with getting paid with an Amazon gift card.