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Trade-in options abound for smartphones

Feeling stuck with your old smartphone? Do you covet new releases that boast niftier features? A growing number of options allow you to trade in your old phone for cash or credit so you can buy a new one.

More choices: Online site gazelle.com helped pioneer the trend toward recouping cash on your old smartphone or other gadget. But a number of merchants have followed suit, including newcomer Walmart, which announced a trade-in program in recent weeks. Apple, which had offered a trade-in program online, launched one at its stores in August.

But if you're looking to upgrade your smartphone, act quickly, because resale values are dropping now that Apple's new iPhones — 5C and 5S — have been on sale for several weeks.

Online versus in stores: Doing trade-ins online may be more convenient than walking into a store, but remember you won't know for sure how much you'll get for your phone until the company checks it out and makes sure your assessment meets theirs.

For example, Amazon will deposit a gift card into your account assuming it agrees with your assessment of "like new," "good" or "acceptable." If it doesn't, then you can receive a gift card for a lower amount or have the gadget returned.

Cash or credit? Jeannette Pavini, consumer savings expert at coupons.com, and others say that you should evaluate how stringent the program is and determine whether you want store credit or cash. It's often better to take store credit than cash, Pavini says, because you will probably get more. In general, iPhones hold their value more than Android phones.

Walmart launched a smartphone trade program where you will receive a credit from $50 to $300 when you trade in your working, undamaged phone. That's considered a good offer. But the credit must be used toward the purchase of a new phone, with more than 100 devices to choose from. And the trade-in has to be done at the same time you buy the new phone.

Paying for ease: Convenience also may trump deals. Cullen McClure, global information services manager at Kurt Salmon, says that when convenience is high, you may not get the best price.

Among the most convenient options are trade-in kiosks at malls. San Diego-based ecoATM has been rapidly expanding at hundreds of malls. The machine scans the device and doles out cash on the spot.

Trade-in options abound for smartphones 10/08/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 7:00pm]

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