How to convert unwanted gadgets into cash

Many big electronics retailers now offer in store recycling and credit schemes (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)
Many big electronics retailers now offer in store recycling and credit schemes (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)

If you got lucky this Christmas, you may have ended up with older gadgets you no longer need – are you going to tuck them away to be forgotten and lose value, give them away, or turn them into cash?

The UK throws away an astonishing 155,000 tonnes of waste electricals each year, which is bad for the environment and for the planet. It’s also bad for your wallet. The Recycle your Electricals campaign claims electronic device worth £5.6 billion are being hoarded in UK homes.

That’s tens of millions of broken or unused devices which should raise an average £200 for every London home.

It’s also important to recycle and reuse as all these mothballed gadgets as they contain incredibly valuable and hard to source materials such as gold, lithium, or cobalt. That material could be recycled into something new, or passed on to someone else for a new lease of life.

You are spoilt for choice if you want to sell your device, but don’t wait too long.

Which companies will pay for your old gadgets?

Most PC manufacturers will recycle your devices, and some (including Apple) will give you credit toward your next purchase; but for a better deal speak with third party companies who usually pay more. Music Magpie, Spring, and CEX are all good starting points for selling tech.

Companies or individuals with larger quantities of equipment to sell should find out what Mazuma or Envirofone will give you.

You should also glance at comparison sites, SellMyMobile and CompareMyMobile for other services prepared to give you cash for your old gadget. You sometimes find big differences in the price you get, so do shop around for the best deal.

It may also be worth checking with cashback websites such as Quidco or TopCashback, as these sometimes offer a little extra money when you sell your old device through some services, but these deals vary and aren’t always consistently available, so you’ll need to check first.

Another convenient way to swap electronics for money are those EcoATM machines you’ll find in 53+ larger supermarkets, where you can sell tablets and smartphones while picking up your groceries.

For all these places, fully functional devices with no broken parts will always raise more money than more worn gadgets, and you usually pick up more cash if you sell them with the original power adaptor.

How this works

  • In general, tell the company about your device and be given an online quote

  • Once the company checks your device matches the description, a quote will be confirmed and you’ll get paid, often within 24 hours

  • If the device isn’t in the same condition you claimed, you may get offered less money and the device will be returned to you

  • When selling through these services, always package the item as instructed and take photos before you post. You may want to use tracked delivery for more valuable items

You may raise more money selling at auction sites

If you want to raise a few more quid for your gadget, then try your luck with Gumtree, Vinted, Facebook Marketplace or eBay.

Consumers tend to get better results (and higher bids) when they take time to grab good photographs and write detailed descriptions of the products they want to sell. It’s also very important to use the right categories.

You should be honest about the condition of the gadget, as buyers can and do return equipment that doesn’t match the description, and when they do you will lose out because of extra handling costs and the time the whole process takes. You may also get a negative report against you at the site you use. Even if it goes well, be prepared to pay sale fees, and you may need to wait for a while before you get paid.

Ask friends and neighbours

Of course, your friends and neighbours may be desperate to get hold of what you want to sell, so speak with them first.

You can spread your net a little further online. All over London, millions joined local WhatsApp groups during lockdown, and it’s often worth posting to those spaces when you have old gadgets to get rid of; after all, if you sell your device at a fair price to a neighbour, you’ll not only make them happy, but you will also pocket more of the cash than you’ll keep after commission if you sell on an auction site. Don’t ever share your actual address in a public group, as there may be less trustworthy people taking an interest in those spaces.

Give old gadgets to charity

If you don’t want the hassle of selling your device, there are other ways to make sure those precious electronics don’t go to waste: most manufacturers now offer recycling schemes and charities such as Little Lives UK will collect and refurbish older electronics to give to children who lack access to tech.

While many charity shops won’t take tech, some do - the British Heart Foundation may even collect larger items. You can also look at what mobile carriers have to offer. Three’s Reconnected service takes old phones you donate to hand over to someone who needs it, as does the Virgin Media O2-backed Community Calling initiative. Another alternative is Warrington’s Wee Charity, which collects items to be refurbished with profits pumped into local community groups.

How to recycle old electronics

You may find you’ve left it too long and your old gadgets have become too ancient for anyone to be interested in purchasing them. If that’s the case, don’t just throw these things out as those gadgets contain harmful chemicals and metals that pollute the environment. Londoners can find lots of recycling options, even for ancient electricals, through the Mayor’s London Recycles website.

You can also take a look at national schemes such as SquareBox will pick them up and break them down for the valuable components they contain while high street electronics retailer, Currys, offers a free recycling service that is currently handling 65,000 tonnes of old tech every year. Currys will also give you credit for more recent tech.

Before selling your devices, it’s vital you remove all your personal information, passwords, data, photographs, banking details from them first.

While some services promise they will do this, it’s far better to be certain before they leave your hands. Criminals really do find valuable personal data, such as banking details, inside old gadgets and this information is regularly exploited. Protect yourself by following your manufacturer’s instructions to delete all your data and return your gadget to factory setting before you let it go. If you use cloud services such as iCloud or Google, you must also deregister your device from those accounts. But even with those slight hassles, there’s no doubt about it – Londoners have more ways than ever to unlock cash from their old electronic devices.