Person's hand holding an Apple gift card against a white background.
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Apple Trade In is a fast way of getting a gift card you can use at the Apple Store for your old gadgets. You won't get the best price, but you will get a fast turnaround and don't have to deal with the hassle or pitfalls of selling an item yourself.

Apple Trade In lets you swap old devices for money off new ones simply by taking them to an Apple Store or applying online. It’s one of the quickest ways of turning unwanted gadgets into cash but that doesn’t mean it’s the best deal in town.

What Is Apple Trade In?

Apple Trade In lets you trade an old iPhone, iPad, Mac, or other unwanted gadgets to receive money off your next purchase. How much you get will depend on the age and condition of your device, and any credit you receive will be added to a gift card which you can use to purchase from the Apple Store in person or online.

You can make use of Apple Trade In by taking your device into a store or by registering your device online. Apple will send out everything you need to return your device and once the item and its condition have been verified by Apple, you’ll receive your gift card by email.

Apple promotion for getting a gift card using Apple Trade In

You can use Apple Trade In to trade in non-Apple devices too, though the service seems to heavily favor Apple devices. This is especially true when it comes to non-smartphones, like old computers and tablets for which Apple doesn’t seem to offer any credit.

The service also functions as a recycle point, which is ideal if you have a very old device with little to no street value that you simply want to recycle responsibly.

RELATED: How to Safely Dispose of an Old Phone

Apple Trade In Is Fast and Easy

There are few easier ways of getting some money back for an unwanted Apple device than taking it to an Apple Store or registering for an online trade-in. If you’ve been meaning to upgrade you can trade in on the day or during checkout and get some money back. This is arguably the biggest reason to use the service, since selling an old device yourself comes with a lot of hassle.

If you choose to sell an old gadget online you have to list the item, take detailed pictures, arrange to receive money using a third-party service like PayPal, post the item out, and hope nothing goes wrong along the way. In-person sales require that you meet someone in person to exchange money for a potentially high-value item.

Apple Trade In value estimates

Most of the time, second-hand sales are straightforward transactions. Unfortunately, there are pitfalls to be aware of like scammers looking to take advantage of you, and personal safety considerations to be made. You might not feel comfortable meeting strangers to sell your item even in a busy public place.

On top of this, you may get more money if your cellular carrier offers a promotion for your old iPhone or iPad where you get more money back than you would if you approached Apple alone. This can help close the gap between what Apple is offering you and the current market price.

Selling Your Old Gadgets Is More Profitable

The downside to Apple Trade In is that you’re likely to get less money for your devices than if you were to sell them yourself. The street value of your item could be hundreds or thousands of dollars more than what Apple is offering you, though keep in mind a portion of that profit will be subject to seller’s fees.

At the time of writing, eBay’s sold listings report that a used iPhone 13 can go for between around $500 and $700, or more. Apple Trade In doesn’t take into account how much storage the iPhone has, whether it’s been kept in a case for its entire lifespan, or whether the sale includes a power adapter and charging cable.

Apple only offers $410 in Apple Store credit for an iPhone 13 of any description. As long as the device switches on and doesn’t show any obvious signs of damage, dents, or cracks, you’ll get your store credit. As a second-hand seller, you can expect the current market price for your gadgets and get more money by putting in the work to sell your device to a buyer directly.

This is even more pronounced with more expensive products like the Mac. A late-2021 16-inch M1 Max MacBook Pro with 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD can fetch around $3000 on eBay, but Apple only offers $1155 store credit using Apple Trade In.

2021 16-inch MacBook Pro M1 Max 32GB sold listings on eBay

The better condition your gadgets are in, the more money you are likely to get. You might get more interest when you include peripherals like an Apple Pencil (with the sale of an iPad) or a useful USB-C dongle (for a MacBook), or any cases, covers, or bags you no longer need. These items can help make your listing stand out to potential buyers.

Lastly, any money you make selling your item on the second-hand market can be spent wherever you like once it reaches your account. Apple only offers a gift card, which is only useful if you intend to purchase an Apple device direct from the company.

RELATED: How to Get Apple's Education Discount on a Mac or iPad

Apple Will Only Recycle “Broken” Devices

Apple’s Trade In website walks you through the rough valuation process that may also exclude your device from the Apple Store credit program. Pick your device and then answer some questions about the condition: does it turn on? Do the buttons work? Is it covered in dents and cracks?

Recycle your iPhone with Apple Trade In

In the case of an iPhone, if the device no longer turns on or is dented and cracked, Apple will only offer to recycle it for free. Even though the device may not be of much use to you, you might get something for it if you decide to sell it online. Not only is there value in the metals, but some people may also be interested in components like batteries and displays for spare parts.

What to Do Before You Get Rid of an Old Device

Make sure that you erase your iPhone using a Mac or Windows PC running iTunes to remove your personal data, then remove Activation Lock before you sell the device on regardless of its condition. You should do the same for an old Mac, Apple Watch, or anything else that has your data on it.

If you go for Apple Trade In, a representative will help you do this in-store or you’ll receive instructions on what to do before sending your device in if you choose the postal route.

Recycle or Pass On Your Old Devices

One final benefit to the Apple Trade In program is that it also functions as a recycling program for just about any old smartphone, tablet, computer, smartwatch, or other devices. Take them to your local Apple Store or apply online to recycle them, free of charge, safe in the knowledge that you’re not contributing to landfill.

If your devices are still in working order, consider repurposing them instead. There are lots of things you can do with an old Mac, and you probably know someone who would benefit from your old iPhone. If you can think of a useful way to extend the lifespan of a gadget you no longer need, why not do so?

After all, old iPhones can live long and healthy lives and may even receive security updates long after support has officially ended.

Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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