Amazon as we all know is a powerhouse in the shopping world, but they have some other features that many are not even aware of besides just a shopping portal.
A perfect example is their Amazon Trade-In program which allows you to turn in your trash for Amazon cash. Because we want to talk more about being frugal and living a simpler life, we want to cover some common ways to earn a few extra dollars. On the surface, Amazon Trade-In could be a great way to pick up some extra money with things you are no longer using.
But is it really that great?
This post is meant to be a comprehensive guide to the program and provide you with all the good and bad about what it offers.
What is the Amazon Trade-In Program?
You send in your goods – then Amazon will offer you a price for it. If the price sounds good you go ahead and ship it to them and get an Amazon gift card in your account.
The most commonly traded in items include the following:
- Vide0 games
There is also a search box where you can enter your item name and see if it is part of the program. If you do not find it in the search, then unfortunately it is not eligible for the program.
The Trade-In Process
The process is actually very simple which is one of the reasons the program is so popular. They have streamlined the process and made it super easy to submit and send your item to them.
- Go to the Amazon Trade-In program page
- Either select a category or click the find more items button to search for your product
- When you find and select your item you are taking to a condition page where you need to tell them the condition of your item – be HONEST!
- Then you will see their trade-in estimate
- You will also see an option for what to do if they determine your offer should be less after they receive the item (you can have it returned to you or agree to accept the lower price, please DO NOT accept the lower price. Just ask they return it.)
- Confirm your trade-in
- Once confirmed you will be able to print a prepaid shipping label to send them your item
It is important that you package your electronics CAREFULLY! Please see the cautionary stories below as to why packaging carefully is important!
The Trade-In Details
Some important things to note!
Shipping Your Item – your item must be postmarked within 7 days of the date you submitted it on Amazon or your order will be canceled.
Maximum Trade-In – there is a maximum trade-in amount of $1,800 per ORDER. So if you are submitting multiple items and they total over that amount, you will have to create multiple orders to break it up.
Location – only those with physical addresses in the US can use the program. Products shipped from outside the US are not accepted.
Electronics – before you send them you must deactivate and unlock them.
You can see their full list of terms and conditions here.
How can I get my cash?
There are 2 options for getting paid for your trade-in.
Amazon Gift Card
This is the most common option. Once Amazon receives your item and validates the offer you will then receive a gift card that will be applied to your account electronically.
This is an option where you can receive the gift card immediately after submitting your trade (before shipping it). Not everyone will qualify for this, Amazon notes that you need to meet their “eligibility requirements” – but does not state exactly what that is.
The other concern we have with the Trade-In program is that your payment is “temporary” and can be taken back. If Amazon values your item lower or your item is rejected, the payment will be removed which is why we recommend to just opt for the gift card.
Amazon Does Not Run Their Trade-In Program
Yep – they do not manage their own trade-in program, a 3rd party company does.
So, why is this a bad thing?
Because when you reach out to Amazon about an issue with a trade-in issue, they are clueless about your issue.
The program is run by a group called NorAm International.
NorAm is a vendor – they handle the shipments, the item review and the disbursements. Amazon had not part in the process and cannot address your questions. You will see why this is a big issue below!
Pretty Much Every Digital Device Seems To Be Downgraded
In our research we found that just about every item submitted had been downgraded. Of course it is easier to find the bad stories than the good – but with a large majority of users noting they had their item downgraded after the facility received their item we wanted to make sure you knew that this was a high risk.
So if you were offered $100 on your iPhone – you may be offered $50 after they receive because they see “damage”.
ZDNet wrote an article and actually got a rep at Amazon to admit “it is more or less standard practice for them to automatically downgrade the condition of a device”.
And because Amazon outsources this as noted above – they have no knowledge and cannot help you.
Amazon Textbook Buyback
Although the digital and electronics are more commonplace it seems on the Amazon Trade-In platform – they do also buy back books as well. It all works the same as above – you have to search for your book and they will make an offer if it is one they are willing to buyback.
I entered a book that I have laying around called Thread’s Not Dead – they offered me $6.94 for it. It was a book I paid almost $50 for several years ago – and I do think I may be able to get more on Ebay for it. But I have to see if my extra work is worth it!
Educational books give the highest offers so if you have some educational books it may very well be worth it to check how much you can get if you are no longer using them.
Just be sure they are in GREAT condition. They may not accept books – or greatly diminish the value with any of the following:
- Marked up pages
- Cover damage – too many scratches or rough edges
- Dog eared pages
- Water damage
- Odors from sitting too long
Some Offer Comparisons
We wanted to share some examples of what you may get at Amazon for a trade versus other options you have for turning your items into cash type marketplaces.
I ran a quick check for an old phone I have – a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge SM-G925V 32GB. It is in excellent condition with no scratches or wear and tear so I noted as such on the websites I tested it on.
The phone is in excellent condition – so I marked it as such on all the tests I ran.
Below were the offers I received from a few different websites:
Gazelle – $45
Amazon Trade-In – $55.05
Verizon Wireless – $95.00
BuyBackWorld – $80.00
You can see the diversity in the amounts offered! I have never personally used any of these except for the Amazon Trade-In program so cannot verify if any of the other options are any better than Amazon, but will review those in the future.
What are actual users saying about the Amazon Trade-In Program?
We wanted to make sure you knew what real users are saying about the program. As with everything in life there are good things and bad things in regards to the program and my job is to educate you so you make the best decision in regards to using the program.
Some are blatantly calling the program a scam.
Below are a few of the cautionary stories we found when doing a quick search.
When your item is returned saying it is damaged – but is also missing parts!
Brand new item with plastic still on it – but devalued due to scratches.
Is the trade-in program a scam?
But there are a couple of positive stories also.
This guy got $25 more than he was quoted for his trade-in.
Of course with anything it is always easier to find the negative stories than the positive ones!
The Promotional Deals
The Amazon Trade-In program often runs special deals in line with your trade-in.
At the time of this writing they were not only providing you a gift card for your trade-in item but also a special promotion for 25% off a new Kindle e-reader or Fire tablet – when you trade in an older Kindle or Fire tablet.
Take Your Trade-Ins To A Pop-Up Store (Highly Recommend!)
If you are in the vicinity of an Amazon pop-up store, you can take your items directly there for an offer instead of mailing your item in.
We HIGHLY recommend this if it is an option. This will alleviate some of the issues that have been reported in regards to the offer being lowered because it was evaluated and shown to have “scratches” or “damage”.
We are not sure if the offers would be higher than online, but you have the ability to at least be there in person to discuss any potential “issues” they find, unlike the online submissions.
You can view their current pop-up locations here.
While there is a lot of issues with the program – especially in regards to the receiving company noting issues with products that do not exist, the Amazon Trade-In program is still a quick and easy way to get some Amazon cash quick.
If you are just looking to do some fast exchanges and are less focused on maximizing the amount you get, Amazon is great.
If you are solely focused on getting the most money you can for an item, then we would not recommend it.
If you want to get the most money you can you may want to try Ebay or Craigslist first as you may get more there.
If you do decide to move forward with Amazon then we highly recommend the following:
- Take pictures of your item from all angles and if it is electronic with it turned on and off.
- Package your item CAREFULLY! If it is damaged in transit, it will decrease your value.
- Make sure you choose to have your item RETURNED to you if they find the value to be lower.
While we do think overall the Amazon Trade-In program is a good program for those looking to just clear out some stuff and may not be focused on true value. I use the program and have been content with my offers and have not had some of the issues noted here.
But if you are solely focused on making better money – then there are much better options for you out there!