While Apple brings out new devices pretty frequently, at least when it comes to phones and tablets, you can actually use their products for a pretty long time. Your Mac, MacBook, or iPad can stay useful and relevant for years. However, at some point, you are going to want an upgrade. That means your existing device needs to go somewhere. 

There are more than a few options to get rid of your old Apple device, but Apple itself presents an interesting option in the form of its Apple trade-in program. We’re going to have a thorough look at this offer and see whether it’s the right option for you.

Table of Contents
    Apple icon in an Apple Store

    What Is The Apple Trade-In Offer?

    While it varies from one country to the next in the finer details, in general, Apple will give you store credit for your old device. You can spend this credit on anything in the Apple store, but it is probably better spent on an upgrade for the device you traded in – assuming you want a similar device again.

    Someone signing a contract

    Apple will assess the condition of your existing device and then offer you an amount of money they deem fair. Whether it’s as much as you want or need depends on your personal circumstances.

    The Apple Refurbishment Program

    What does Apple do with the traded-in products? There are two main destinations that we are aware of. 

    The first was already mentioned above. If your device is beyond repair, Apple will pay you the princely sum of nothing. However, they will properly recycle your broken device and perhaps save use a little from environmental doom. So, good on you for not just chucking it in the bin.

    Someone washing a car

    If your device is worthy of their trade-in, Apple will refurbish the device and resell it at a small discount compared to the price of a new model. Incidentally, if you’re wondering if buying a refurbished Apple product is a good idea, we have a detailed investigation of that idea.

    Direct Selling Can Make You More Money

    One of the main alternatives to taking up an official Apple trade-in offer is to sell your old device directly to another individual through a service like Craigslist. There are a few good reasons to do this. For one thing, you’ll probably get a larger amount of money. It will also be money you can spend anywhere, rather than simply within an Apple Store. 

    Craigslist website

    On the other hand, you have no idea how long it will take to sell your item. Furthermore, private selling comes with its own set of risks. There’s plenty of fraud and even physical danger attached to private sales.

    Have a look at what prices other people are selling similar items to yours for and compare that to the Apple trade-in offers. After which you should take the risks of direct selling into account. Is it still worth the money difference? You decide.

    But Apple is Safe and Predictable!

    While the dollar amounts that Apple trade-in offers aren’t always spectacular, it is a very reliable way to get something for your old device. Their policies are very clear and, as long as your device’s condition warrants it, they will pay you what their guidelines indicate. 

    Apple icon in an Apple store

    They won’t rob you, trick you or try to cheat. There’s quite a lot of value involved in that convenience that may make up for the lower amount of money you’ll get from Apple compared to a private sale. 

    Just make sure you’re actually dealing with an official Apple store and not an unauthorized third-party reseller. Unless they’re offering a better deal, that is.

    Alternative Trade-in Programs

    Apple isn’t the only one to offer trade-in programs for devices like laptops and tablets. Other companies also want to get in on this action. They may even be especially keen on getting used Apple devices both for parts or for refurbishment resale.

    This isn’t true for every country. Additionally, we wouldn’t actually recommend as a general rule that you buy a refurbished Apple device from anyone other than Apple. Mainly because of their tight grip on the aftermarket repair industry for their products.

    Open sign hanging in a shop door

    However, if all you want is the best deal for your existing device and they offer cash, it’s worth doing some comparative shopping. If they also only offer store credit and don’t sell anything new you want, any additional money is clearly not going to be worth it.

    Still, the bottom line is, well, all about the bottom line. It shouldn’t matter to you what the company does with your old device, as long as their cold, hard cash offer is good enough.

    If the Battery is Kaput, Definitely Trade It In

    Devices like iPhones and iPads don’t really have components that can wear out in just a few years. The only component that’s got a relatively short lifespan is the battery.

    A stack of batteries

    Lithium-ion batteries, which are currently pretty much the standard in computing devices, are only rated for a set number of charging cycles before they fail. Since the batteries in modern Apple devices are not user-replaceable, you’ll have a hard time getting a good price for a device with a worn-out battery. 

    Since Apple is going to replace the battery during refurbishment anyway, they don’t care about this and will still give you the same deal. This means a trade-in for such devices makes a whole lot of sense.

    Consider Passing Your Device On

    In some cases, the amount of money that Apple is willing to offer you will be quite low. This might not be enough to justify giving up a functional device that’s still in good condition. So why not give the device away to someone that really needs it? 

    Grandparents posing for a photo with grandchildren

    Donate it to a student, give it to your mom. It doesn’t matter that it’s not the latest, most shiny model. There’s probably someone in your life who will be immensely grateful for a well-kept used Apple device. Just remember to properly wipe your information from it first!

    Why Not Just Keep It?

    Do you really need to throw your device away? There are plenty of good reasons to simply keep your old Apple device, even if it’s eligible for a trade-in. 

    Someone reading on an iPad
    • Keeping a spare phone in case your current one is damaged or stolen is a very good idea. 
    • iPads can be permanently mounted and connected to power. 
    • You can use iOS phones and tablets to control smart home systems or to perform all sorts of useful tasks as an embedded computer. They also make good shared smart devices that anyone can use to quickly browse the web or watch some Netflix

    If you can find a use for your old device, with some imagination, then you can use it until it well and truly dies and only then hand it over to Apple for recycling.

    To Trade, or Not to Trade: Summing Up

    Someone extending their hand for a handshake

    So let’s break it down into a simple bullet-point list to help you decide if the Apple trade-in program is right for you. You should use the Apple trade-in program unless one of the following is true:

    • You can safely and quickly sell it privately for more.
    • You have no use for Apple store credit.
    • A third party offers a better cash deal.
    • You think there’s someone who could use the device (and you like them enough).
    • You can find a useful purpose for your old device.

    The Apple trade-in offer isn’t right for everyone, but it’s a very good thing that this option is on the table for owners of these devices. So always keep it in mind when the time comes to upgrade.