How to turn unwanted gadgets into cash

Many major electronics retailers now offer in-store recycling and credit schemes (Yui Mok/PA) (Achief Yui Mok/PA)

British households are being urged to clear out and recycle their old electronics after it emerged we are hoarding more unused electronics than ever.

According to Material Focus, Britons have around thirty unused gadgets at home, compared to twenty four years ago. A total of 880 million unused electrical appliances are gathering dust in various gadget drawers and neglected shelves. Another 103,000 tons of electrical equipment are thrown away every year, an alarming amount of electronic waste that often pollutes the environment.

The problem is that many of these items could have been recycled for their components, meaning we are missing a unique opportunity to do our bit for the planet.

Plus, people could actually get cash to send in their electricity, so this could be a good chance to make some extra money while cleaning up unnecessary waste.

If you’re looking to sell your device, you’re spoiled for choice, but don’t wait too long. Here’s how to get the ball rolling.

Which companies will pay for your old gadgets?

Most PC manufacturers will recycle your devices, and some (including Apple) will give you credit towards your next purchase, but for a better deal you can contact third-party companies, who typically pay more.

Music Magpie, Spring and CEX are all good starting points for technology sales.

Companies or individuals looking to sell larger quantities of equipment need to know what Mazuma or Envirofone will give you.

Also check out the comparison sites SellMyMobile and CompareMyMobile for other services that are willing to give you money for your old gadget. Sometimes you’ll find big differences in the price you get, so shop around for the best deal.

It may also be worth contacting cashback websites such as Quidco or TopCashback, as they sometimes offer some extra cash if you sell your old device through certain services. These deals vary and aren’t always available consistently, so you’ll have to check first.

Another convenient way to trade electronics for cash is the EcoATM machines found in certain supermarkets, where you can sell tablets and smartphones while you pick up your groceries.

For all of these places, fully functional devices with no broken parts will always fetch more money than more worn-out gadgets, and you’ll usually fetch more money if you sell them with the original power cord.

How this works

  • Tell the company about your device to get an online quote.

  • Once the company checks that your device matches the description, a quote will be confirmed and you will be paid, often within 24 hours.

  • If the device is not in the same condition as you stated, you may be offered less money and the device will be returned to you

  • When selling through these services, always package the item as instructed and take photos before shipping. For more valuable items, you can use tracked shipping

You can make more money by selling on auction sites

Unless your device is in perfect condition, you’re unlikely to get much from the trade-in websites. Sometimes you might not even realize there’s a problem with your device (like a missing pixel in your screen), which means you get next to nothing. Sometimes it’s also not easy to get your devices back after submitting them.

If you want to raise a few more bucks for your gadget, try your luck with Gumtree, Vinted, Facebook Marketplace or eBay.

Consumers tend to get better results (and higher bids) when they take the time to take good photos and write detailed descriptions of the products they want to sell. It is also very important to use the correct categories.

You have to be honest about the condition of the gadget, as buyers can return equipment that does not match the description, and if they do, you will lose out due to the extra handling costs and the time the whole process takes.

You may also get a negative report against you on the site you are using. Even if things go well, be prepared to pay a sales charge, and you may have to wait a while before you get paid.

Ask friends and neighbors

Of course, your friends and neighbors may be desperate for what you want to sell, so talk to them first.

You can spread out a little further online. Across London, millions of people have joined local WhatsApp groups during lockdown, and it’s often worth posting to those places if you have any old gadgets you want to get rid of.

After all, if you sell your device to a neighbor for a fair price, you will not only make him/her happy, but you will also keep more money in your pocket than you would have left after commission if you sold it on an auction site. Never share your actual address in a public group, as there may be less trustworthy people interested in those spaces.

Donate old gadgets to charity

If you don’t want the hassle of selling your device, there are other ways to ensure those precious electronics don’t go to waste: most manufacturers now offer recycling programs and charities such as Little Lives UK will collect and refurbish older electronics caring about children who don’t have access to technology.

While many charity shops don’t accept technology, some do: the British Heart Foundation may collect even larger items. You can also look at what mobile providers have to offer.

Three’s Reconnected service takes the old phone you donate to someone who needs it, just like the Virgin Media O2-backed Community Calling initiative. Another alternative is Warrington’s Wee Charity, which collects items in need of refurbishment with profits pumped back to local community groups.

How to recycle old electronics

You may find that you’ve been using them for too long and that your old gadgets have become too old for you to be interested in buying them anymore. And while your original iPod could be a collector’s item if you’re lucky, you may feel like you have few options for other unwanted items. But don’t just throw these things away; those gadgets contain harmful chemicals and metals that pollute the environment.

Instead, Londoners can find many recycling options, even for old electrical appliances, through the Mayor’s London Recycles website.

National programs like SquareBox will take old technology and break it down into the valuable components it contains.

Well-known electronics retailer Currys offers a free recycling service that processes 65,000 tonnes of old technology every year. Currys also gives you credit for more recent technology.

This is how you prepare your old devices

Before you sell your devices, it is crucial that you remove all your personal information, passwords, data, photos and banking details from them. Although some services promise that they will do this, it is much better to be sure before they leave your hands. Criminals indeed find valuable personal data, such as banking details, in old gadgets and this information is often misused.

Protect yourself by following your manufacturer’s instructions to delete all your data and reset your gadget to factory settings before letting it go. If you use cloud services like iCloud or Google, you should sign your device out of those accounts as well.

But even with those minor issues, there’s no doubt about it: Londoners have more ways than ever to unlock cash from their old electronic devices.

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