Back in the day, we used to buy one TV, one telephone and one computer and keep those things until they fell apart or became totally obsolete. Learn about T-Mobile’s phone trade-in program, Verizon’s Device Recycling Program and AT&T’s Trade-in Program. Many cell phone carriers feature buyback programs that give you credit towards the purchase of a new device. Apple’s Reuse and Recycling program turns your old device into an Apple Store Gift Card, which can go toward another device or more media.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can always handle things yourself the “old-fashioned” way, and list your phone on eBay. Today, technology moves so fast that a cell phone you buy on Monday is already considered outdated by Friday. You can let someone else do all the work for you, as numerous sites specialize in selling off or trading your cell phone.

For instance, Sprint has a buyback program in which that same 4S got an offer around $150, and that credit is automatically applied to your next phone when you choose to upgrade. Apple works like the first option listed above—using a company called PowerOn to process the recycled gadgets. Robert Siciliano, a security consultant and identity theft expert, admits that he was able to lift all kinds of personal data from cell phones after they’d been factory reset. Siciliano reports that BlackBerry devices wipe out the most amount of information, while the more popular Android models leave the most data behind. But with two-year contracts preventing frugal consumers from switching expensive gadgets every six months, it’s become necessary to sell or trade your device for the optimum amount of cash before upgrading. You can sell up to five phones per line in a 12-month period, which means if you have another decent phone handy, it could save you even more cash toward your new—but soon to be outdated—gadget.
This fall, it is rumored, that in addition to this already existing program, you’ll be able to bring your old phone directly to the store to trade it in for the newer model—with a new contract.

If the company decides that your device is in less than tip-top shape, you may get less cash. According the Los Angeles Times, Apple Stores will be offering between $120 and $250 in credit toward a new iPhone, including a two-year contract.
But if you do your homework, you can make more than double what the online sales companies will offer you. The disadvantage is that it might be more time-consuming than clicking a button and getting a shipping box and some cash wired to your PayPal account. Also, noteworthy: That same friend got $95 for her 16 gigabyte 4S, which was a surprise since she’d gotten it wet and it wouldn’t turn on!

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