You love Apple products. Heck, we can’t get enough of them either! So, this is probably going to be difficult for you to hear (put your earmuffs on if you don’t think you’re Apple-obsessed heart can handle it): Buy a new iPhone every year, watch all the Apple TV you can handle, try to be the first of your friends to close your rings each day—but please, for the love of all that is good, stop using the Apple Trade In program. Well, most of the time anyway.
Whoa, hot take comin’ through! We know, we know—just stick with us. Is Apple’s trade-in program easy and convenient? Absolutely. Will it give you a fair price for your used Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, or MacBook? Ehhh, sometimes. However, there’s no reason to sell yourself short $70 or more just because you’re an “Apple Person.”
Just like trading in your car at the dealership, the simplicity of trading in with Apple is going to cost you. Much of the time, in fact, you’re going to get far less money selling your Apple device back to Apple instead of… basically anywhere else. How much less? Keep reading to find out how Apple’s trade-in values stack up against other buyback options, as well as how the Apple Trade In works.
How Does Apple Trade In Work?
Online vs. In-Store Trade-In
Which Devices Are Accepted?
Does Apple Trade In Cracked iPhones?
How Does Apple’s Trade-In Credit Work?
How Much Does Apple Give for Trade-Ins?
Apple Watch Trade-In Values
Apple iPhone Trade-In Values
Apple iPad Trade-In Values
Apple MacBook Trade-In Values
Why Are Apple’s Trade-In Values Low?
Is the Apple Trade In Program Worth It?
Apple Trade In is the tech giant’s buyback program (not to be confused with the iPhone Upgrade Program which lets you pay for your iPhone over 24 months and upgrade to a new model after only 12 months of eligible payments). Whether you’re offsetting the costs of the newest iPhone or recouping some of your losses on an Apple Watch that’s been gathering dust, Apple’s buyback program is fuss-free and convenient, with the ability to choose from either online or in-store trade-ins.
Online Trade-In: Prefer to do your gadget shopping from the comfort of home? Just answer a few questions online about your item and its condition to receive your trade-in estimate. Then, mail in your old device using Apple’s complimentary shipping label or trade-in kit.
Once your item is received, the experts over at Apple will evaluate your gadget’s condition. If their assessment doesn’t match what you initially described, your device’s trade-in value will be adjusted accordingly. From there, you just accept your offer and receive your payment.
In-Store Trade-In: Rather get hands-on with the object of your (upgrade) desire? Simply bring your used Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and more into your closest Apple Store and trade it in in-person. After a quick inspection, you’ll get your trade-in quote.
But, what if you don’t like your trade-in offer? Not to worry—any estimate you receive from Apple for your trade-in will always be obligation-free. So, if you went to an Apple Store to trade in, don’t be afraid to walk away if you’re not happy with the amount you’re quoted. Likewise, if you don’t like the updated trade-in estimate you get for your online trade-in, Apple will send your device back to you for free (unlike someone else we know).
Apple will accept a wide variety of devices (i.e. not just Apple products) for its trade-in program. These include:
|•||iPhones – iPhone 5 through iPhone XS Max (although you’ll only make money on the iPhone 6 or newer)|
|•||Android phones – Brands include BlackBerry, Google, HTC, Huawei, LG, Nokia, oppo, OnePlus, Samsung, Sony, Vivo, Xiaomi, and more|
|•||Tablets – Both Apple and other brands are accepted, but you’ll only get credit for iPads|
|•||Computers – Both Apple and other brands are accepted, but you’ll only get money for Macs|
|•||Smartwatches – Both Apple and other brands are accepted, but you’ll only get credit for Apple Watches|
|•||Other devices – Apple will also recycle (re: for free) an array of other gadgets|
Hypothetically speaking, yes. In practice, however, it’s a different story. Prior to 2016, you wouldn’t have received any trade-in credit for your damaged iPhone. Since then, Apple has relaxed its trade-in guidelines a little bit to give store credit for a device even if it has a crack or two. In theory, that is.
We decided to test out how cracks affect Apple’s trade-in values for ourselves using the company’s online trade-in estimator and oh boy, it was not pretty. For an iPhone XS Max, the most recently-released model accepted by Apple’s trade-in program, Apple will pay up to $385 for a phone in good condition. However, when you state that the same phone’s body is in “bad shape” (i.e. cracks, chips, scratches, shattered glass back, etc.), it’s trade-in value plummets to a big, fat $0.
Fortunately, that’s where AppleCare+ comes in (if you had the forethought to invest in it, anyway). Rather than settling for less and sending Apple your rough-around-the-edges iPhone as-is, take some time to have the offending cracks fixed first. With AppleCare+, fixing a cracked screen or shattered back glass costs only $29 and $99, respectively. That still leaves you with a respectable $356 or $286 in profit. Not too shabby!
That being said, we also tested out the same phone, both with and without cracks, with GadgetGone. As expected, we came out on top. Even with cracks, an iPhone XS Max would net you between $265 and $315 depending on your device’s storage capacity. Fix those cracks, however, and you could see between $455 and $505, again depending on storage size (more on that later).
In general, Apple’s buyback program only gives store credit for trade-ins. Depending on whether you trade in online or in an Apple Store, that payment will come as either instant credit, an Apple Gift Card, or be credited to an existing purchase.
Online Trade-In: Should you elect to trade in your old device when buying a new one online, your original payment method will be credited for the amount of your trade-in once your item is received and evaluated. Any remaining amount will be received through email as an Apple Gift Card. If, however, you are trading in an item online but not making a purchase at that time, you will receive the full amount on an Apple Gift Card.
In-Store Trade-In: If you go into an Apple Store to trade in, you’ll have the choice of either an instant credit or an Apple Gift Card. As the name suggests, you’re free to use your instant credit that same day. Or you can opt for the gift card to use your credit for a future Apple purchase.
For much of its existence, Apple Trade In has been called out for its less-than-desirable trade-in values (at least when compared to trade-in sites like GadgetGone), especially when it comes to iPhones and iPads. So, when the program was fleetingly rebranded to Apple GiveBack from 2018 to 2019, it felt a bit too on-the-nose. Unfortunately, although the more consumer-focused name has returned, Apple’s resale values have remained lower than its competitors by comparison.
Now, let’s take a look at how Apple’s trade-in values stack up to other popular buyback or resale market options. Keep in mind that the estimates below are for devices in good condition. As discussed previously, any cosmetic damage or functional issues will bring your device’s trade-in value down substantially.
If there’s any device category where Apple bucks its trend of offering lower trade-in credits, it’s with Apple Watches. In general, depending on which model you have, you could receive anywhere from $35 for a first-generation Apple Watch to up to $240 for a Series 5. For this comparison, we decided to look closer at the Series 5 Apple Watch.
|Series 5 Apple Watch – GPS + Cellular connectivity, 40mm stainless steel case, good condition|
|Swappa: $326 (average selling price)|
|eBay: $271 (average selling price)|
Unlike with Apple Watches, Apple’s iPhone trade-in values can’t hold a candle to other buyback options. Overall, you can stand to make anywhere from $30 for a first-generation iPhone SE to up to $450 for an iPhone XS Max. For this comparison, we took a closer look at the iPhone 7 and iPhone X.
|iPhone 7 – 256GB, Verizon, good condition||iPhone X – 256GB, Verizon, good condition|
|Apple: $80||Apple: $260|
|Swappa: $195 (average selling price)||Swappa: $429 (average selling price)|
|eBay: $154 (average selling price)||eBay: $398 (average selling price)|
|Gazelle: $91||Gazelle: $214|
|GadgetGone: $113||GadgetGone: $330|
Similar to Apple’s iPhone resale values, the company’s iPad trade-in values leave much to be desired. In general, you can expect to get anywhere from $180 for an iPad Mini to as much as $505 for an iPad Pro. For this comparison, we decided to focus on a 3rd-generation iPad Pro.
|iPad Pro (3rd-generation) – 12.9” screen, WiFi + Cellular connectivity, 256GB, good condition|
|Swappa: $956 (average selling price)|
|eBay: $706 (average selling price)|
Aside from Apple Watches, if there’s one device category that holds its own against competitor trade-in values, it has to be MacBooks. It’s also important to note that, unlike many trade-in sites like GadgetGone and Gazelle, Apple Trade In also accepts desktop computers and not just laptops. Overall, you can plan on receiving anywhere from $460 for a MacBook to as much as $3,850 for an iMac Pro. For this comparison, we decided to focus on a 2019 MacBook Pro.
|2019 MacBook Pro – 15”, 2.6GHz processor, 256GB SSD hard drive, 16GB RAM, good condition|
|Swappa: $1,623 (average selling price)|
|eBay: $948 (average selling price)|
Apple’s trade-in values, though nothing to sneeze at, are often found wanting when it comes to certain devices (particularly iPhones and iPads). Why? Simply put, they don’t offer more money for better specifications. In other words, Apple offers the same amount for a 256GB model iPhone as they do for the same model with only 32GB. The same goes for networks: a carrier-locked iPhone will net you the same as one that’s fully unlocked.
Needless to say, if you happen to be trading in a device that’s carrier-locked with base-level storage capacity, you might actually get a pretty decent offer from Apple. Here’s an example:
|iPhone 8 – 64GB, T-Mobile, good condition||iPhone 8 – 256GB, unlocked, good condition|
|Apple: $145||Apple: $145|
|Swappa: $252 (average selling price)||Swappa: $312 (average selling price)|
|eBay: $184 (average selling price)||eBay: $255 (average selling price)|
|Gazelle: $109||Gazelle: $130|
|GadgetGone: $125||GadgetGone: $185|
That depends on what you mean by “worth it.” If you’re planning on upgrading your old Apple Watch or MacBook, are trading in an entry-level iPhone with minimal specifications, are a die-hard Apple fan who turns your nose up at other options, or are someone who enjoys donating your extra money (AKA all the money you could have made by trading in with another company) to corporate profits, then Apple’s buyback program might be for you. For everyone else, you’re probably better off trading in your device elsewhere.
If you’re looking to get the absolute most money for your used device, Swappa is the hands-down winner of the resale-value price war, followed closely by eBay. The great thing about Swappa is you don’t pay any fees for selling—the buyer (not you) pays a flat fee of just $10-$20. The only downside is that once you list it, you may have to wait a week or more for it to sell depending on the market. In contrast, you’re going to end up paying a hefty 10% fee on eBay, bringing your final payout down closer to other resale options. With each of these trade-in methods, you’ll also have the added legwork of shipping your device directly to the buyer.
With trade-in sites like GadgetGone and Gazelle, in contrast, all you have to do is get your no-obligation quote online, accept your offer, ship in your used devices with a prepaid shipping label, and get paid in cash. It’s just as quick and easy as trading in with Apple with the added bonus of cash payments instead of store credit. Plus, Gazelle’s mediocre trade-in values aside, buyback sites like GadgetGone consistently offer prices that compete with (or outright blow out of the water) Apple Trade In.
In short, while resale marketplaces like eBay and Swappa take a little more time and risk to get your money, they will ultimately give you the greatest reward. Meanwhile, instant-offer sites like GadgetGone and Gazelle will give you solid prices, cash payments, and take almost no work or time at all. So, do your own pricing research, check company reviews, and make sure you’re getting the absolute best offer. Chances are, that’s not going to be with Apple’s trade-in program.