Cell phone cash

I’ve never had the newest, coolest cell phone. I was a loyal BlackBerry user for years, still a holdover from my D.C./government employee days. I’ve had Sprint for cell phone service since 1999 and have a great deal, so I wasn’t willing to switch when AT&T (and later Verizon) offered the iPhone. So there I was rocking the BlackBerry. Except it wasn’t really rocking. When I’d had enough, I bought an Android phone. It was much better than the BlackBerry, but I’m an Apple fan, so I was anxiously awaiting my turn to finally get an iPhone. Sprint got in on the iPhone action last fall and Chase got one, but I wasn’t eligible for an upgrade…sigh. But, lo and behold, this year I was! I am the proud new owner of a pretty, white iPhone 5, complete with a monogrammed case that Chase makes fun of because I spent $40 on it. Whatever – I gave money to a small business!

After buying my new phone I couldn’t wait to get rid of the old one (it may be small, but it’s still clutter!). I took it to the local ecoATM, a cool kiosk that recycles used electronics and gives you cash on the spot. The machine was out of cash, so I used their estimating tool, which told me they’d give me $18 for it (once their cash was refilled). Seemed a little low. Sprint would give me nearly $60 for it, but that would only apply toward accessories at the Sprint store, and accessories are just more clutter.

I had my phone in my car for a day or two, when I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about companies that buy used electronics. The article included some sample prices being paid, and one, gazelle.com, intrigued me. I quickly clicked on their site. They offered me $31.50 for my phone, which seemed reasonable. It couldn’t have been easier.  I put in a little information, they emailed me a FedEx label. I walked down to the FedEx drop box in my office, put the label on a box and off it went. A few days later, I got an email that it had been received and inspected. A second email came a couple of days later, with my Amazon.com gift card code (which I used today to buy the shield for Clay’s Captain America costume). They also pay via PayPal, but I use Amazon a lot, so that option made the most sense for me.

I should mention that I used NextWorth in the past, and also liked them, although I don’t remember the details as well (Clay was a baby, my memory is clouded by middle of the night feedings). It’s a similar service – also online, with free shipping. They even have physical locations in some Target stores.

ecoATM, gazelle and NextWorth buy other electronics, too. So I’m going to sort through some old iPods and see what they will give me for those. Money in my pocket is better than an iPod in the bottom of my gym bag. Especially since I don’t go to the gym.

I realize these options may not get you as much cash as you could get selling your phone or other electronics on eBay, but they also require far less effort on your part. Time is money, after all.

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