How to turn your old devices into Amazon gift cards

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The holiday shopping season is just around the corner, which means stocking up on new electronics just became a lot more irresistible. But for every new piece of tech that you buy, another is left to collect dust, abandoned and forgotten. That may already be the case if you have older phones, tablets, and other devices buried in a drawer or boxed up in the basement. 

Unless you’re saving them as memorabilia — or in hopes that something will spike in extrinsic value — you’re better off trading in the electronics for recycling while earning some money back in return. Allow me to introduce you to Amazon’s Trade-In Program. 

More: The best deals from Amazon’s Prime Early Access Sale

How to use Amazon’s Trade-In Program

Amazon’s Trade-In Program is a fast and simple service that converts unwanted tech into Amazon gift cards and/or discounts. It’s also a satisfying way to recycle old electronics at no cost. 

I’ll preface this by saying that there are plenty of other trade-in services out there. Many of which will probably yield higher rates of return and accept a greater variety of products and brands. The advantage of using Amazon’s program is the hassle-free shipping process, in-store discounts, and electronic gift cards that process directly into your account.

If that sounds good to you, here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of the service. 

You’ll want to start from Amazon’s Trade-In portal. You can either choose from a range of Amazon-owned product categories, like Kindles, tablets, streaming media players, and Echo speakers, or search from the “Other Trade-In Categories” section, which includes cell phones and gaming.

Opening a category tab presents you with a manual search bar and a list of products currently registered to your Amazon account. Select the item(s) that you’d like to trade in. 

The potential trade-in value (and discount) will be listed beside each product name and model. 

Amazon Trade In Program Kindle Search

Screenshot by June Wan/ZDNET

Once you’ve selected your item(s) to trade in, a qualifying questionnaire will appear for you to complete. 

The questions revolve around the condition and status of your trade-in item(s), including whether or not it’s cracked or damaged, can hold a charge, and more depending on the type of electronic. Your answers will be evaluated during the inspection process, so you’ll want to be as honest and accurate as possible. 

If there is an inaccuracy detected, you can choose between taking a lower estimated trade-in value for the electronic or having Amazon return it back to your shipping address. The latter is typically not offered with trade-in programs, so it’s good to see. 

Amazon trade in program questionnaire

Screenshot by June Wan/ZDNET

Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, you’ll be provided with a UPS shipping label to pack and deliver your item(s). The prepaid label comes at no cost — for you, at least — and you’ll have 45 days to ship the package out to Amazon. Make sure you’re using the provided label and not your own as the tracking information is designated for your specific trade-in.  

Tip: If you’re shipping out a smartphone, tablet, or device that contains personal information, ensure that it’s factory reset and wiped out clean before handing it off. Also, record and take pictures of the electronics’ condition. This helps in the event of shipping damage and/or Amazon claims that what you described was inaccurate.

Also: Trading in your old phone? Here’s how to factory reset it

Once the package is shipped and received, Amazon says it will take 10 days, at most, to evaluate the item(s) and process the trade-in offer — whether that’s in the form of an Amazon gift card and/or a discount on select products. If there are any issues, you can visit the Trade-In page for more information or contact an online representative for assistance. 

More: Here are all the new Echo devices Amazon just announced

FAQ

How long will it take to receive my trade-in credit? 

According to Amazon’s Trade-In Program website, you should receive your trade-in credit within 10 days after your item(s) arrive at the sorting facility. 

What condition do my items need to be in? 

Amazon’s Trade-In Program accepts items that range from non-functional to good condition. Depending on how damaged or pristine the electronic is, you’ll receive less or more credit in return. 

How long do I have to ship my device?  

You have 45 days after the prepaid shipping label is provided to ship your device(s). The best action is to drop off the shipment at a local UPS store and ask for a drop-off receipt to confirm its delivery.

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