Tech Tip: Swapping Your Old Phone for Cash or Credit

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Q. Is there a general age limit on how old a smartphone you can trade in or sell?

A. The more recently released smartphone models typically fetch the most cash or credit, but a few major used-electronics buyers still consider hardware from as far back as five years ago. You may not make much money with an outright sale — as little as $5 — but you may get more in credit as a trade-in. You should shop around to get an idea and keep in mind that many companies also buy and sell used tablets and computers if you have other gear you have upgraded.

If you do not want to handle the sale personally on sites like craigslist or eBay (which often buys old phones itself with its Quick Sale service), you can look for an estimate from the bigger used-electronics sites like Decluttr, Gazelle and Swappa. Trading in an older phone for credit toward the purchase of a new one is also possible; Apple and Best Buy are among the retailers with trade-in or trade-up programs that pay out in credit toward the purchase of a new device or in-store gift cards.

If your phone is older and not worth much to an electronics company, consider donating it to a charity that repurposes old equipment for those in need. Your wireless carrier may have a donation program, like Verizon Wireless’s HopeLine for survivors of domestic violence. Cell Phones for Soldiers is another group that sells donated phones and uses the proceeds toward prepaid international calling cards for members of the military.

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Before you sell, donate or recycle your old phone, be sure to erase all your personal data and settings from the device.

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The New York Times

No matter where you send your old phone, make sure you have fully disconnected it from your wireless plan before you say goodbye. You should also log out of all your accounts on the phone and erase all the personal data and settings on it. Apple, Google and Microsoft all have instructions for doing so on their sites.

Personal Tech invites questions about computer-based technology to techtip@nytimes.com. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually.


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