Once again Christmas has come and gone, and it may have brought you a shiny new tablet. But if it did, you might be wondering what to do with the your old one.
There are a lot of uses for an old tablet; use it as a backup device, give it to a family member, make digital picture frame. But there’s one other option that can be attractive to anyone who needs a little extra cash after the holidays: Selling your tablet. Although tablets, like all electronics, tend to lose value pretty quickly, an older tablet in good working condition can still fetch a fair price … and there are even some companies out there that simplify the reselling process, albeit for a cut of the dough.
Option 1: Sell it yourself
The most obvious option is to sell the tablet yourself. There’s conventional venues like eBay and Craigslist, of course, as well as a website called Swappa which specializes in person person-to-person sales of used tablets and smartphones. If you want to get the most money for your device, selling it yourself takes out the middleman and will give you a higher price. But there are a few big downsides of selling a tablet yourself, however, which can give people pause.
Between putting up a sale listing, dealing with “window shoppers,” fielding questions about the device’s condition of the device, haggling, and arranging payment, selling an old tablet can be an ordeal. And that’s without either the possibility of fraud, or the selling fees at more secure locations; a flat $10 for Swappa, 10% of the final price for eBay, and 3% for PayPal regardless of the venue.
A fast and efficient direct sale does still net you the most cash for your old gadget, but some may not consider it might not be worth the effort. If you get an additional $50 from your tablet by selling it yourself, but spend eight hours doing so, then you’re working for way less than the minimum wage. For those who aren’t worried about extracting top dollar, there’s another option.
Option 2: A technology resale company
You may not know it, but there’s an entire industry for buying old gadgets. It’s not just about buying them for parts either, it’s about refurbishing them, and then reselling them for a profit. Because of that, you’re going to get less money for your device, sometimes a LOT less.
However, these companies do tend to offer some benefits. As a rule they offer a flat amount of money depending on your tablet’s condition — no haggling, no listings, just a standard payment. Most will provide free shipping and packaging, and offer the option of paying you upon receipt via PayPal instead of sending you a check.
Comparing your options
To give us you a feel for what you might expect to get for your old tablet, we went to five different companies to get offers on popular but somewhat older tablets, of the type that you might have replaced recently or be planning to. To compare these prices against what the market will bear, we also looked up the recent average selling price of each device on Swappa. This tells us what the various tablets are commanding in person-to-person sales, and how much of a difference you can expect to see in the final price. For the purposes of pricing, we went by the assumption of awe assumed each device was in “average” or “good” condition, and not suffering from significant damage. Virtually no resellers will accept devices that have significant damage; cosmetics are okay, but screen damage (as well as personalization like engraving) will drop the price enormously.
Three of these companies looked at — Gazelle, TechPayout, and NextWorth — act directly as buyers. The other two, SellCell and USell, are actually more comparison engines, so they’ll look up offers from various smaller companies and show you your options. For the comparison in these latter cases, we used the highest offered payment. And as noted above, the private sale price doesn’t include selling fees, which can take up to 13% of the cash price.
Finding the best price
When you first start looking up offered prices, it becomes clear that comparison shopping pays off hugely in this arena. Prices vary wildly between companies, and often companies that have the worst offers on one item can have good ones on another, and vice versa. Case in point: NetWorth offered $100 for an iPad mini Retina, compared to $148 from USell and $160 from SellCell. But SellCell would pay you $205 for an iPad Air (16 GB, Wi-Fi) that NetWorth would only offer $150 for. TechPayout quotes $149 for the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 (64 GB, Wi-Fi), while the same device at SellCell would net you $275.
Unsurprisingly, out of the six tablets that we chose for my our cross section, the iPads retain the most value. Other high-end devices like the Surface Pro do reasonably well too. But lower end or mass-market devices like the Kindle models or cheaper Galaxy Tabs don’t note fare well at all. Particularly the Kindle, with offers ranging from “low” to “insultingly low,” such as under $20 for a Fire HDX that would be worth $120 on Swappa. Low-end devices do so poorly on average that in many cases, you’re better off simply sticking them in a drawer.
Private sale prices of course easily trump all of the resellers; an iPad Air will go for an average $354 in a Swappa private sale (not including Swappa’s $10 and PayPal’s $11), whereas the best offer from a buyout company is $205. The question of whether the $127 difference is worth it can only be answered by you.
In the end, the relative value of reselling your old tablet is depends on your device, and how much you value your time. Someone with an iPad or equally high-end device can get a relatively healthy return on their old hardware, but cheaper and less up to date devices aren’t treated as having much value, even if they’re still useful.
|Apple iPad Air
16 GB WiFi
|Apple iPad mini 2
|Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014
16 GB WiFi
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7.0
8 GB WiFi
|Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7
16 GB WiFi
|Microsoft Surface Pro 2