If you’re ready for the new year, you may also be ready for new gear. That means it’s time to upgrade and trade in your old tech!
The National Retail Federation expected 31 percent of shoppers to purchase electronics as gifts this holiday season. That means a whole trove of recipients will be turning to their new smartphones and tablets in 2014, and those old electronics will hit the island of misfit gadgets.
If you’re one of the lucky ones exploring your new iPhone 5s or Samsung Galaxy Note 3, I encourage you to do the right thing and keep those dated devices out of landfills or wasting away in shoeboxes. Instead, give them to charity or sell them.
But first, wipe those old suckers clean of any personal data, phone numbers, financial information, passwords and selfies. Our gadgets store an enormous amount of personal data, and the last thing you want is to have your identity stolen. If you decide to get rid of your old device, follow these tips.
Clear your data
Remove your microSD card. The SD stands for “secure digital,” and it holds all kinds of information and photos that you want to keep private. MicroSD cards come in smartphones, GPS gadgets, digital cameras, digital audio players and other devices.
Remove the SIM card from your old phone before selling it The microSD will be in the back of the phone or along the side. Take it out and keep it.
You should also remove your SIM card. SIM stands for “subscriber identity module” and communicates information about your device to your carrier. It stores your personally identifiable information, like billing info and phone number. Often, you can simply transfer your SIM card to your new device. But if your new phone is on a different carrier, call and make sure to close your old phone’s account.
If you’re trading in your phone at a store, don’t rely on that store to do these things for you. You’ll need to perform a factory reset, which is typically a few clicks away. If you need some assistance, Glyde.com offers simple step-by-step directions for many smartphones and tablets.
Before you decide to sell your phone, do your homework. There are a number of places where you can get money for your device:
Gazelle.com is a simple, straightforward option. Simply choose your carrier and model, select its condition (broken/cracked, good or flawless) and the site lets you know how much you can get (my old Blackberry, for example, could land me $130). Then, ship it (shipping is free if the company thinks your phone is worth more than $1) and choose to be paid by check, PayPal or Amazon gift card.
Usell.com connects sellers with buyers. Enter your model number and state the condition of your phone, and if there’s someone looking for that model, you’ll get an offer. If not, you’re out of luck.
eBay has a whole section dedicated to smartphone sales. Select your carrier and model number and the site suggests an auction starting bid and a “buy it now” price, which includes the price of shipping. Then, sit back and let the bidding begin.
Trade it in for a gift card
A number of big box and online stores have started trade-in programs, encouraging you to send your used devices in exchange for a gift card. Best Buy, Target and Amazon all have programs that recycle devices, including phones, computers, tablets, MP3 players, video games, cameras and other electronics. You can make the device-for-gift-card exchange online or in participating stores.
Give to charity
Want to feel good about getting a new device? Donate your old one. There are hundreds of charities that now accept cell phones. Cell Phones for Soldiers will take your old phoneOne popular program is Cell Phones for Soldiers, which works to keep military personnel and veterans in touch with their families. With just a $5 donation or donated device, a solider can talk with his or her family for two and a half hours. Plus, the nonprofit keeps phones out of landfills. Since 2004, the organization has shared more than 200 million minutes of free calls and saved 11 million devices from going to waste.
Other organizations that accept donated cell phones include the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, American Kidney Fund, Shelter Alliance and many others. Visit Phones 4 Charity or ReCellular, which are two organizations that oversee charitable cell phone drives, to learn about other charities accepting cell phones.
Want to find something local? American Cell Phone Drive keeps tabs in your area. Simply enter your ZIP code and view a list of community nonprofits raising funds through phone donations.