UPDATE: Make that 12 sites. (When I find more sites, I’ll add them.)
Beyond digging for deals and finding the lowest price, there is another way to fund your next electronic purchase without opening up that wallet.
Several companies will pay you money for your old computer, iPod or other gadget. Some pay cash, others gift cards. Another company lets you lock in how much money you can get for a gadget after six months to two years of use.
As you may or may not know, such recycling efforts are part of the whole green tech trend. In California, it’s been illegal to dump a monitor or computer into the trash can for years. More recently, consumers here pay an ‘e-recycling’ fee when buying a new monitor, PC or other device with a screen.
While many computer sites now offer free recycling, I’ve honed in on the sites that give you a little something extra for your junk. Pretty much all offer free shipping — you just print out a label on your computer and ship the gadget.
Using my old 40 GB iPod Photo (in good condition, with minor scratches) as an example, here’s what I can get for it (from high to low):
$60 = Toshiba America - Uses eztradein.com to run its program. Gives gift cards and cash for old electronics. Read my past story on the program, “Toshiba’s PC recycling program now accepts all e-junk.”
$60 = BestBuy.com uses the same service as Toshiba. But instead of cash, you’ll get a gift card to Best Buy.
$60 = PayPal.com uses the same service as Toshiba. Pays with PayPal credit.
$56.70 = Amazon.com uses several companies including Gazelle (mentioned below). All pay with Amazon gift cards. In this case, NextWorth accepts old iPods and iPhones. Using FlipSwap.com, my iPod got me $35.29 in Amazon gift cards.
$56 = Costco.com uses GreenSight Technologies for its recycling program. Program pays in Costco gift cards.
$53 = TigerDirect.com uses GreenSight Technologies for its recycling program. Program pays in TigerDirect gift cards.
$38.94 = BuyMyTronics.com doesn’t even care if it’s broken, they’ll pay cash for your old electronics — within 24 to 48 hours of receipt.
$36 = Crutchfield.com uses cexchange.com and pays in store gift cards.
$30.60 = RadioShack offers RadioShack gift cards. Read my past story on RadioShack’s program at “RadioShack offers gift cards for your old electronics.”
$25 = Gazelle.com accepts a wide variety of electronics and pays cash, PayPal credit, an Amazon gift card or donates to a variety of charities. It also promises to wipe out any data still on the gadget.
$23 = Lenovo’s Eco Takeback program puts the cash on the Eco International pre-paid Visa card. It has no cash value.
Up to $40 = Apple recyles its own products for free but doesn’t pay cash. However, if you drop off your old iPod at an Apple Store, you can get a 10 percent discount on a new iPod (like, the $399 iPod Touch).
I guess after 3 years, you can’t expect much return on the $499 investment (did I really pay that much for an iPod Photo?)
There are other sites that pay money or credit for the recycling of their own electronics, like Sony. But I wanted to list sites that accept all brands of electronics.
One other possible option: Locking in the price at the time of purchase. TechForward offers a ‘guaranteed buy back’ program for electronics. You pay a one-time fee to lock in the ‘buy back’ rate.
The fee is anywhere from $20 (for an iPod or digital camera) to $150 (for big TVs). The buy back rate is the same for all products: 50 percent of the purchase price if returned in 6 months, 40 percent between 6 to 12 months, 30 percent between 12 to 18 months and 20 percent for up to 24 months.
I haven’t tried the program but there is not enough incentive for me. While getting 50 percent back is unheard of, you’ve got to return the product within six months to get that rate. Plus, it must be in good condition and there is the upfront fee. Right now, the service is only offered to TigerDirect.com, CompUSA and Amazon customers plus some local Los Angeles stores. Still, this could be an option for people who must have the latest and greatest gadget and know that within a few months after purchase, they’ll be upgrading again.
If you have other tips, leave a comment below or e-mail me.
For those who prefer to donate to a charity and possibly qualify for a tax write-off:
And for companies and big businesses:
Related green tech stories: