How to sell your tech: when, where and what you need to know

We're all guilty of it - buying a shiny new piece of tech and shoving the device it's replacing into a draw/cupboard/loft/garage where it gets forgotten about and gathers dust.

STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING. The tech you no longer need can be turned into sweet, sweet money - and we're here to show you how you make some cash by selling your tech.

We have dedicated pages for some of the most commonly sold tech (such as phones, game consoles and tablets), while this article will offer general advice on selling any tech you may have lying around the home.

What should I do before I sell my tech?

Be honest about its condition

You need to be honest with yourself, and the buyer, about the condition of your tech. The best prices are gained from technology that has been well looked after and still have the original box (in good condition) with all associated cables and paperwork.

It’s not always possible to gather all these pieces together, but that shouldn’t put you off selling. Just be upfront about what you do have, and the condition of the device. Are there any scratches or scuffs, does anything not work, does it need repairing etc.

Even if your device isn't in full working order, there are still ways to sell it - although you'll get a lot less than you would for a fully working gadget.

Check the exact make and model

One of tricky things about the technology market is the number of similar products that are available. You need to be 100% sure of the device you are selling, so the buyer doesn't come back at you saying you've sent them a different variant or model.

On large appliances such as TVs the Model ID is generally found on a sticker on the rear of the device, while for smartphones you'll need to head into the Settings and check the 'About' and 'Storage' sections to ensure you have the correct model and storage capacity.

Different models can have very different price tags, so make sure you take the time to check exactly what you have.

Factory reset your tech

Please, please, please make sure you do this. The last thing you want is for your second hand phone/tablet/ereader etc to end up in the hands of a stranger with all your personal data still on it.

Pretty much every device these days has a factory reset option, which will wipe all the data and content and return the product to its 'just out the box' status.

If your tech has some precious memories/data/photos on it, make sure you back up it all to an external drive or cloud so you don't lose any important content. Also remember to take any removable memory cards (SD, microSD etc) out - as they'll more than likely belong to you, rather than the device.

Take great photos! (if you're selling online)

There are a number of ways to sell your tech, but one of the most popular is to take to websites or mobile apps to shift the goods yourself. 

One of the biggest problems with this self-selling path though are terrible photos. Technology is a big purchase, even when it's second hand, and buyers want to have confidence in what they're buying.

A couple of dark, out of focus shots will do you no favours. Make sure your tech is well lit, in focus and not surrounded by clutter. If you can take pictures of it on/working then even better, as it all adds to buyer confidence.

Take your time with the photos, take lots and then go through and pick the best to show off the product from every angle.

Do your research

Use eBay, Amazon, trade-in websites and other selling websites to get a general idea of how much you should expect to get from your product, and whether there's much interest in what you're selling.

If your product is widely available second hand, then that will likely drive the price down, but if you're the only one selling a particular device you're not necessarily guaranteed a big pay day. It may be because no one wants to buy it.

We'd recommend monitoring various products over the course of a few days, or even a week, to see how popular they are and what they end up selling at.

When should I sell my tech?

When it comes the best time to sell your tech, there's no time like the present. The pace of technology is so fast that devices can lose value on a monthly basis. The longer you leave it, the less you'll end up getting.

Apple products tend to be the best at holding their value, while off-brand devices will likely depreciate the quickest as there will be little demand for them.

It’s also wise to avoid big sales events throughout the year, as during the Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day sales buyers will be on the hunt for bargains, meaning you’ll be forced to charge less for your slate if you want to shift it.

Where should I sell my tech?

Right, so you've checked what product you have, it's wiped and you've been honest about the condition. You've also done your research, so you've got a ballpark figure in your head.

Now it's time to sell your tech.

It’s best to shop around and check all your avenues so you can get the best price for your tech, as different services will vary in how much, or little, cash you’ll get in return.

Auction/Boot sale sites

Ebay – the world’s biggest auction site – is probably one of the best places to sell your tech, with its huge pool of buyers hungry to throw their money at you. 

It's one of the best ways to get the maximum value for your tech, but it’s not as straight forward as walking into a store and exchanging for cash.

Ebay charges you to list an item and it takes a cut of the final selling price - plus there’s no guarantee that anyone will buy, let alone bid, on your item. 

Even if someone does ‘win’ the auction the person may not pay up (which is rare) – meaning you have to re-list it and go through the process again.

If you get a disgruntled customer there’s always the chance of a difficult returns/dispute process which could add more hassle than it’s worth. However, those who are well versed in Ebay will tell you these occurrences tend to be few and far between.

A newer alternative is Facebook Marketplace, a simplified version of Ebay, allowing you to quickly list an item you have for sale. Again though, potential problems with buyers not paying/complaining can lead to additional, and unnecessary stress.

There are a number of other boot sale style websites and apps, with Gumtreeand Schpock two popular options. They’re just as easy to use, but come with the same negatives as Ebay and Facebook as well as having a smaller pool of potential buyers.

In store

If you’d like more security when selling your tech, and cash instantly in your hand, there aren’t many better ways to do this than going to a high street retailer and trading it in right there and then.

Stores such as CEX, Game and Carphone Warehouse, as well as a number of independent retailers, are more than happy to offer you some money in exchange for your unwanted tech. The only catch is they’ll probably offer the lowest amount out of any of the ways here.

Some shops may offer the option of store credit as well as money, with the former giving you a higher monetary value than straight up cash. Great if you’re planning on buying something from the store anyway.

Devices such as phones, cameras, tablets, games and games consoles will be relatively easy to exchange in store, but items such as TVs may be more difficult to shift in store.

In summary, this is a great option for those looking to quickly sell their tech as long as you don’t mind taking a hit on the final cash amount.

Recycling sites

The number of recycling sites has exploded over the past few years, and there’s now a glut of companies all vying for the tablets you no longer want.

What you need is a comparison site to helpfully tell you which company will give you the best price for your iPhone. Thankfully, such sites already exist making the process super simple.

Our favorite recycling price comparisons sites include Compare and Recycle and CompareMyMobile.

These sites search popular recyclers such as Music Magpie, envirofone, fonebank and mazuma to find you the best prices for your tech.

Apple even has its own recycling program, but instead of money it will pay you in the form of an Apple gift card if your iDevice qualifies – you’ll need to send your tablet to Apple first though, so it can be assessed.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.