A trade-in deal is an exchange of a product you own for credit that can be applied toward purchasing a new item. You can exchange vehicles, smartphones, gaming consoles, laptops, TVs, fridges, ovens, or other electronic devices. It’s a convenient way to dispose of old products and save money on an upgrade.

Retailers and manufacturers run trade-in offers to leverage the value of used products to incentivize the purchase of new merchandise. It’s a win-win situation since businesses secure sales, and customers get to use items they would otherwise throw away or forget about.

Key Takeaways

  • Trade-in deals exchange used items for credit towards new purchases. In some cases, customers might get gift cards instead of store credit.
  • The item’s condition, market demand, and model influence the trade-in value.
  • Item appraisals are done at participating retailers. Some businesses let you go to a physical location and have the appraisal and trade done instantly. Others require you to ship the item (usually with a prepaid label) for appraisal.
  • Products have specific trade-in eligibility criteria, such as good working conditions or not having significant damage. 
  • Benefits of trade-in offers include cost savings, convenience, discounts, and accessible upgrade opportunities. For businesses, trade-ins create customer loyalty, increase sales, improve inventory management, and create a better, eco-friendly brand image.
  • There are specific steps for preparing products for trade-ins. We’ve detailed the trade-in process for vehicles and electronics below.
  • You can trade in your car even if your loan hasn’t been paid off yet. More details below.
  • Trade-in promotions are also available for video games, appliances, jewelry, watches, musical instruments, camera equipment, and more!
  • A few US stores you can easily find in your city that have trade-in programs include Apple, GameStop, Verizon, Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart and T-Mobile.

How Does a Trade-in Deal Work?

Your item’s condition, model, and current market demand influence its trade-in value. This also affects how much store credit you’ll receive. The first step is having your trade-in item appraised. Appraisal is done online or at a participating store, depending on the nature of the item and the business’s policy. After appraisal, you’ll get a quote.

If you agree to the quote, you hand over your old item and receive a discount or store credit towards your new purchase. There are many popular retailers across the US with trade-in offers. Trade-in deals are particularly common for automobiles, electronics, and video games. 

Some companies that offer trade-ins include:

  • Apple
  • GameStop
  • Verizon
  • AT&T
  • Best Buy
  • Walmart
  • T-Mobile
  • Car dealerships

The Value and Concept of Trade-in Deals

Aside from market demand for the product you want to trade in, its age and condition will play key roles too. All trade-in deals will result in financial savings, but they can vary greatly. You could get a credit of $2, $20, or a really significant sum. 

In any case, your out-of-pocket expense for the new product you’re acquiring will always be reduced. Present your item to the retailer or service provider to benefit from a trade-in offer. After the assessment, they’ll suggest a quote. The process usually works like this:

  • Evaluation: the item you want to trade in is evaluated based on the store’s criteria.
    • Condition: is the item in good working order and with, at most, minimal damage?
    • Market value: is there a demand for the item now?
    • Age: how old is the product compared to new(er) iterations? Even if the product might work just fine, do people still want it?
  • Quote: you’ll receive a discount or credit offer from the retailer.
  • Trade-in: if you accept the offer, the item is handed to the business, and you get a bargain for your new purchase.

Sometimes, retailers may run promotions that increase the value of trade-in deals. Before committing to an offer, shop for the best deal available.

Product Eligibility for Trade-in Offers

Before engaging in a trade-in, your item must meet the criteria set by the retailer or service provider. Every company, such as Apple, Verizon, AT&T, Amazon, and Best Buy, has its own eligibility and condition standards guidelines. Here’s what you should expect:

  • Apple trade-in: your Apple device must be in good working condition. This includes its physical condition, battery health, and overall functionality.
  • Verizon trade-in: Verizon expects your device to function fully and not have any significant damage. They take various electronics (not just smartphones) from many brands.
  • AT&T trade-in: AT&T values devices based on their cosmetic condition and working order.
  • Amazon trade-in: Amazon accepts various items – from electronics to books. Eligible product conditions range from “new” to “acceptable,” depending on the item.
  • Best Buy trade-in: Best Buy provides a list of products they accept, such as phones, games, and tech accessories. The item’s worth is determined via individual assessment.

The Benefits of Trade-in Deals

There are several reasons why trade-in offers can be advantageous for both customers and retailers.

For Customers

  • Saving money: the most obvious benefit is the savings on your new purchase. The trade-in credit will reduce the cost of your new item. Sometimes, only by a little; sometimes, by a lot!
  • Convenience: instead of trying to sell your old item independently, which can be time-consuming and difficult, trade-in deals provide an easy way to dispose of your old items.
  • Immediate discount: the trade-in value is typically applied immediately. You don’t need to wait for the discount to be usable.
  • Eco-friendly: trade-in programs often involve recycling old products or refurbishing them for resale. By trading in, you’re helping to reduce waste.
  • Upgrade opportunities: trade-in opportunities make it easier for tech enthusiasts to stay current, allowing more frequent upgrades for their smartphones, laptops, or cars.

For Retailers

  • Customer loyalty: trade-in offers can keep customers returning to the same retailer when they want to upgrade their product, fostering loyalty and repeat business.
  • Increased sales: By offering a discount on new items through the trade-in credit, retailers can encourage customers to make purchases they might have been hesitating about.
  • Inventory management: businesses can refurbish and resell traded-in items, reducing waste and providing an additional revenue stream. Sometimes, it’s as easy as just repackaging a product that’s in good condition and working order.
  • Competitive advantage: attractive trade-in deals can attract more customers and give businesses an edge. They’re a unique selling proposition that differentiates a company from its competitors.
  • Better brand image: companies with trade-in programs are seen as more sustainable because they effectively recycle products and prevent them from ending up in landfills. Environmentally conscious customers are likely to be drawn to such businesses.

Timing for the Best Trade-in Deals


Time your trade-in wisely to take advantage of the best market conditions.

For example, it’s often best to trade vehicles before new model releases. This is when dealers are looking to clear inventory. In contrast, companies like T-Mobile typically offer promotions when new devices launch – making it an optimal time to capitalize on your trade-in.

How to Prepare Your Item for Trading-in

You should take different steps depending on what you want to trade in. However, take your item for appraisal first. You might not get the trade-in offer you were looking for. Going through the handoff preparation steps before getting the quote is not worth it.

Let the retailer examine the physical condition and working condition of the product first. You’ll be offered a trade-in deal based on those criteria and the item’s specifications.


Ask if there will be a more detailed assessment after the initial one. This can change the offer you’ll receive!

If you’re happy with the deal you’re getting and know it is final, you should begin preparing your item for trade-in. Sometimes, you won’t have to do anything. Other times, there might be some conditions you need to fulfill to get the quoted credit or discount. Here a few typical examples:

Vehicles Trade-in

  • Perform minor repairs like burnt-out lights, dents, worn wiper blades, or low tire pressure. Some car dealerships might also request that you fix small cosmetic issues.
  • Clean the vehicle thoroughly, inside and out.
  • Assemble all related documentation, including the vehicle’s title, service records, and original purchase papers. The vehicle’s service history can increase its trade-in value if it confirms everything’s in good order.
  • Use resources such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds to determine the approximate value of your vehicle. This can help you determine if you’re getting a good trade-in price.
  • Remove all personal belongings. Check glove compartments, center consoles, trunks, and under seats.
  • You might have to repair mechanical issues too. Consider whether the cost or hassle of doing so might outweigh the benefits of the trade-in deal.

Electronic Devices Trade-in

  • Back up your data to ensure you retain access to files, photos, contacts, passwords, and more.
  • Sign out of all accounts and services you’ve logged into the device: email accounts, social media apps, cloud services, etc.
  • Deactivate specific services such as “Find My iPhone” on Apple devices. You should remove any Google Accounts on Android and deactivate “Factory Reset Protection.”
  • Reset your device to factory settings to protect your privacy and ensure the new user basically gets a new device.
  • Gather all accessories like chargers, cables, and such. Put them in the original box if you still have it. It might increase your trade-in value.
  • Give your device a good clean before handing it over. It probably won’t up your trade-in value, but it’s a nice courtesy. Take care not to damage the product while cleaning it. For example, DO NOT use sanitary alcohol to clean smartphone screens. Always look up proper cleaning practices for your device. Similarly, be very careful not to damage the fans of PCs or laptops with compressed air – and so on.

What to Know about a Trade-in Dealership


Vehicle trade-ins are generally faster than trying to sell your car privately. You might make less money for the car than selling directly, but trading in could get you a tax break!

To negotiate with the trade-in dealership effectively, you should know your car well: make, model, mileage, condition, etc. One service you could use for a free car appraisal is Edmunds. Remember that your car’s value is different if you sell vs trading-in.

  • A private sale will generally get you a higher price. However, this can take a lot of time.
  • A trade-in credit from a dealership will factor in your vehicle’s condition and demand in your area. Trade-in values tend to be lower than wholesale values (the price dealers pay for cars at auctions). 
  • Many dealerships will use the “Black Book Value” to appraise trade-in cars. This estimates a vehicle’s market value, as used in the automotive industry. It’s an average of wholesale or auction prices that dealerships pay for vehicles. Because of this, the quote you end up with might be lower than what popular guides will tell you.
  • You can always try to hold out for the minimum trade-in value you want unless your car has a salvage title. If your insurance has deemed your car a total loss after a major accident, it’ll carry the “salvage” branding – which permanently decreases market value.

How to Trade-in a Car with a Loan

The first step is contacting your auto lender to see if you can pay off your loan early. However, watch out for prepayment penalties. Even if you can’t pay it off, you can generally take a trade-in offer for a car with a loan.

The only caveat is whether the car will be valued above or below your loan balance.

  • If the car’s appraised at a higher value than your loan, the difference can be used as a down payment for a new car. So, let’s say your remaining loan is $20,000. If the car is valued at $30,000, you can apply a $10,000 credit for a new car!
  • If the car is worth less than your loan, you have “negative equity.” This means you have to cover the difference. One option is moving the difference to a new auto loan for the new vehicle. However, your monthly payments and overall interest might increase.

Once all quirks are completed, you can sign the official paperwork with the trade-in dealership. Note that you can’t return the new car after signing.

Consumer Rights for Vehicle Trade-in Deals

You have specific rights when trading in a vehicle at a dealership. For one, the contract must be equitable, offering you value that justifies the trade. Legislation such as the Consumer Rights Act protects your interests. It is your right to demand that the trade-in offer terms are clear. Feel free to ask for clarification on anything that seems opaque.

Here are 3 steps to follow:

  • Review the contract carefully for terms governing the trade-in’s condition and the new vehicle’s delivery.
  • Confirm that the dealership provides an accurate and fair valuation for your trade-in.
  • Verify dealership certifications and licensing to ensure they are authorized to conduct trade-ins.

Apple Trade-in Deals

Apple lets its customers trade in all sorts of Apple electronics for store credit. Even if a device isn’t deemed eligible for a trade-in offer, Apple will recycle it for free. Their trade-in policy applies to:

  • iPhones: customers can get $30 – $630 in store credit for a trade-in. Currently, iPhone 14 Pro Max has the highest trade-in value.
  • Apple Watches: Apple offers $70 – $365 for such trade-ins, with Apple Watch Ultra being the most valuable.
  • iPads: get $45 – $580 for products like the iPad mini, iPad Air, iPad Pro and others.
  • Macs: trade-in deals between $120 – $1315 for devices such as iMac, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and others.
  • Android devices: yes, you can even trade-in the competition! Expect $20 – $540 for devices like Google Pixel 6 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G, and others.
  • Others: Apple doesn’t have trade-in programs for other products, but you can still hand in items such as AirPods, iPods, Apple TVs, headphones, speakers, and more for free recycling. They’ll send you a prepaid shipping label.

You can either trade Apple products online or in-store. Check out all Apple’s trade-in policy for all the details.

Trade-in Deals at GameStop

You can use trade-in deals at GameStop for credit for video games, consoles, or collectibles purchases. While PS5s are really great, you might use the trade-in credit for Pokemon cards instead. Alternatively, you can ask for cash, but it might be less cash than expected.

GameStop accepts over 7,000 products, including video games, systems, and more. You can use the credit to get the latest games, consoles, or other gaming gear and goodies. For example, GameStop Canada has promotions such as:

  • Trade 3, get it free: applicable for new releases & preorders for up to two weeks after launch, at values of $79.99 and $89.99.
  • Controller trade: $30 trade-in credit for controllers for PlayStations, Xbox, and Nintendo systems.
  • Trade more, get more: 3 items for $15 credit, 5 items for $30 credit, or 7 items for $50 credit.

GameStop US lets you trade in iPhones, smartphones, tablets, wearables, consoles, games, and controllers. You can either opt for more store credit or less cash. Check out GameStop’s trade-in policy for all the details. 

Verizon Trade-in Deals

Verizon takes phones, tablets, and smartwatches for trade-in promotions. It’s as easy as backing up your data and mailing the device to Verizon within 15 days of starting the process. The store credit is applied once your device reaches the destination. 

Using Verizon’s trade-in offer can help you upgrade your Samsung, iPad, or iPhone to a newer iteration at a much lower cost. You can also opt for a Verizon gift card instead. Verizon also has a “buy now, trade-in later” deal if you’re in a rush.

You can shop now and trade in later, and you’ll still receive the promised trade-in value via instant credit, account credit, or a gift card. Check out Verizon’s trade-in policy for all the details.

Amazon Trade-in Offers

You can trade in your Amazon Device for 20% off the purchase of another qualifying Amazon device. Complete the online trade-in and bring your device to a participating trade-in store. You’ll then speak to an expert assessing the product and verifying its value. See all participating Amazon locations.

There’s a secondary Amazon trade-in program too. You can get a gift card for thousands of eligible items.

  • Access Amazon Trade-in Store.
  • Select your device category and items for trade-in submission.
  • Select the condition your items are in.
  • Choose whether you want a downgraded offer if, after assessment, the Amazon team finds the products in a worse condition than specified.
  • Choose a return address if any items aren’t accepted for trade-in.

Best Buy Trade-in Offers

Best Buy allows customers to trade in various electronics, including gaming hardware, computers, and televisions. Customers receive a Best Buy Gift Card in return. Only customers 18 and older can take advantage of this offer.

Note that the Best Buy trade-in deal isn’t available at every store. While most stores participate, there are a few that do not participate:

  • Georgia: 1 non-participating store
  • Massachusetts: 1 non-participating store
  • Washington D.C: 1 non-participating store
  • New York: 6 non-participating stores
  • Puerto Rico: 2 non-participating stores

The most popular trade-in items at Best Buy include:

  • iPhones
  • iPads
  • Apple Notebooks
  • (Premium) PC Laptops
  • Gaming hardware
  • Samsung smartphones
  • And more

Check the Best Buy trade-in evaluator to see what gift card value you’d receive for a specific product.

Walmart Trade-in Deals

Walmart provides a trade-in platform for electronics and video games. In return, they offer a Walmart eGift Card, which is granted instantly after the trade-in product is evaluated.

 The following gadgets are eligible for trade-in offers at Walmart:

  • Cell phones
  • Tablets
  • Game consoles
  • Voice speakers
  • Laptops
  • Wearables

Walmart also gives its customers a prepaid shipping label to ship their trade-in product for free with either FedEx or UPS Ground. Verify Walmart trade-in product eligibility to see if you can get an eGift Card for your item.

T-Mobile Trade-in Deals

T-Mobile customers can trade in their old phones for credit towards a new phone, their monthly bill (one-time deal), purchasing accessories, or any taxes and fees. There are 2 major ways of trading in your smartphone at T-Mobile:

  1. You can just go to a T-Mobile store and trade in your device there. Or, you can start the process online and then go to a physical store (the process will be faster).
  2. Complete the entire process online, sending your phone to T-Mobile via shipping (prepaid label is provided).

You might also be eligible for a trade-in promotion happening at the time. If that’s the case, the remaining value of your trade-in will be applied to monthly bill credits.

Trade-in Offers FAQs

What Is a Trade-in Deal?

Have an old(er) product like a smartphone, gaming console, tablet, laptop, or wearables that you no longer want? You can trade it in to stores such as Apple, Best Buy, Walmart, and others in exchange for store credit or gift cards. You could also apply its value towards a new purchase.

How Does a Trade-in Deal Work?

The value of your old item is assessed and then subtracted from the cost of the new item you want to purchase. There will likely also be a difference that you will need to pay out-of-pocket. Some stores will give you gift cards instead in exchange for your trade-in items.

Can I Trade-in Any Item?

Trade-in policies depend on the retailer or dealer. Some may only accept certain items. Others may have broader policies. It’s best to check with the specific business. Generally, you can trade-in items such as:

  • Vehicles: cars, trucks, motorcycles, RVs, and boats. You’ll have to find a trade-in dealership.
  • Electronics: smartphones, tablets, laptops, and gaming consoles are often traded in. Retailers like Apple, Best Buy, and GameStop will take these off your hands.
  • Video games: some retailers offer trade-in deals for video games, where you can exchange your old games for credit towards new ones.
  • Appliances: large home appliances like refrigerators, washers, and dryers may sometimes be traded in, particularly if the retailer sells refurbished appliances.
  • Jewelry and watches: high-end jewelry and watches could be traded in for newer designs or styles.
  • Musical instruments: some music stores allow trade-ins on instruments, giving you credit towards purchasing a new guitar, violin, piano, etc.
  • Camera equipment: professional and high-end cameras, lenses, and other photography equipment can often be traded in for an upgrade.
  • Heavy machinery and equipment: in sectors like construction, companies also trade in older equipment for newer models.

What Happens to My Traded-in Item?

Most traded-in items are refurbished and resold, or their parts are used for repairs. In some cases, they may be recycled in an environmentally friendly manner.

Can I Trade in a Broken or Damaged Item?

This depends on the trade-in policy of the place doing the trade. Some may accept broken or damaged items but at a significantly reduced value.

Can I Use Trade-in Credit at Any Time?

Policies vary by retailer. Some only allow customers to use their new credit at the time of the trade-in transaction, while others let customers save it for future purchases.

What Stores Offer Trade-in Deals?

Plenty of businesses across the US and beyond have trade-in offers. Some big brands with trade-in promotions that are popular in the US include:

  • Apple
  • GameStop
  • Verizon
  • Amazon
  • Best Buy
  • Walmart
  • T-Mobile

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