How to set the right price when selling your old tech

Before you cash in, know how much cash you're likely to get
Old nokia phones
You surely won't get rich, but you already have enough paperweights. Girl with red hat / Unsplash

Selling your old gadgets not only avoids the creation of more e-waste—it also earns you some extra dollars. But how much money you can realistically expect to make depends on a number of factors, including the age and condition of the electronics you’re planning to get rid of.

Fortunately, finding out the going rate for your unwanted gadgets is not hard, and there are lots of places willing to take them off your hands. Just a few minutes of research can be enough to tell you whether it’s worth your while to cash in.

Checking resale value online

To know how much your old gadgets might sell for just log into a site like eBay and see what the current going rates are. Use the search box at the top of the page to look for an auction for a device like yours—make sure to add the brand, model, and the year it was manufactured. Make sure you look for auctions ending within the next few hours, as they’ll give you a better idea of what people are willing to pay. You can also click the Completed items box on the left of the search results on the web to see auctions that have finished.

[Related: How to avoid eBay scams]

The closer you can get to the exact model of the item you’re selling, the better—remember that the specs on laptops and phones, for example, can vary widely from model to model. You should also double-check that details like the amount of storage and RAM are the same, so you’re comparing like for like as much as possible.

But eBay is by no means the only place to sell your old tech. Swappa is also very good for this purpose. As you click through the various gadget categories, you’ll find the average selling prices for what you’re looking to cash in on. And if your specific gadget is not in there, you’ll still be able to check up on similar hardware.

If you don’t want the hassle of dealing with buyers, Decluttr will put a price tag on your gadget upfront. But because the platform has to preserve its resale margins and you don’t have multiple people bidding against each other, the price will typically be lower than what you’d get on eBay or Swappa. However, this is a handy way of getting a rough idea of what your gadget is worth, even if you don’t end up using Decluttr at all.

If you can’t find another example of your gadget for sale anywhere, chances are it’s either a priceless artifact or not likely to fetch all that much money—with the odds hugely in favor of the latter. Old, retro-tech can sometimes fetch big prices, and a quick web search should tell you if that’s the case with your device. If you’re drawing a blank, try searching for similar devices, such as phones of comparable age and specs.

Factors affecting your final price

The two most important elements determining how much your gadget will finally sell for are how much did it cost in the first place and how long you’ve had it. To see big returns, the bigger their original price tag and the less time you’ve had and use them, the better.

Brand names affect prices as well. In-demand gadgets lose their value more slowly than comparable hardware from lesser-known companies: Apple devices, for example, are especially good at holding their value over time. A simple rule of thumb to consider is how popular something is—If it originally sold in huge numbers, it’s likely to be popular as a second-hand gadget too.

As you might imagine, availability and demand also play a role. If you’ve tried to buy a PlayStation 5 or an Xbox Series X recently, you’ll know the high prices they’re going for on resale sites because they are so hard to get.

The condition of your old gadget is also important. While people still buy damaged and faulty goods to repair them or use them for parts, gear in good condition still get the best prices. Just make sure you’re always honest about any faults or marks when you write up your listing.

[Related: How to sell your unwanted gadgets for cash]

Finally, the more extras you can throw in the better. Think original packaging, the original charger, or the protective case that came with your item, for example. If you’re missing any of these accessories you’ll probably still be able to get someone to buy your hardware, but they can help your listing get more attention and a higher price.

If all of this sounds like a lot of work and a big-time investment for too little return, consider recycling your gadget, donating it, or just giving it away rather than trashing it. There are several programs and non-profits that will be glad to take your tech off your hands for a good cause with minimal effort on your part.