How to cash in on unwanted cellphones, electronics

Offers vary on websites, eco-ATMs

SAN ANTONIO – If a shiny new cellphone or tablet means your old one is headed for the drawer of forgotten electronics, you might want to get some cash for it instead.

"I always feel bad throwing them away, but I really don't know what to do with them," said Robin Newhouse, who just treated herself to a new laptop.

The cast-aside electronics may not be the latest, greatest models, but there is something you can do with yesterday's devices: cash in.

"Your old stuff that you have lying around is still perfectly good, and if it's working, it's a great way to make some extra cash," said Thomas Germain, of the Consumer Reports tech team.

There are plenty of online marketplaces and classified services, but if you want simple, there's the eco-ATM. The machines are popping up around the country. Locally, they are located in some shopping malls, H-E-B grocery stores and Walmarts. Within a few minutes, you can sell MP3 players, tablets and cellphones at an eco-ATM.  

Here's how it works: You plug in your device at the kiosk, which will examine it to determine storage, condition and market value. You'll get an offer, and if you agree to sell, it spits out cash on the spot.

It takes a few days, but you may be able to get more cash through an online buyback services, such as Decluttr and Gazelle. Answering a few quick questions gets you a price, and if you're happy with it, you print a free shipping label, box up your device and send it off.

It's worth checking several buying sites because offers vary. For example, for an iPhone 6s in good condition, offers ranged from $90 to $125.

Before you sell electronics that once housed any personal data at all, it's important to protect yourself by logging out of any accounts, including cloud-based storage and disabling any apps that track your device, like Find my iPhone. Then, be sure the device has been completely erased. 

On a phone, you should perform a factory reset, which scrubs it clean. 

You don't want any bank account information, family pictures, or even your browsing history ending up in the hands of someone you don't know. 

About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.