Let’s be honest – sometimes you just need to trade in an older device, like a phone or a tablet. Maybe you want to trade it in for a new model? Maybe you’re just tired of waiting forever for the start-up screen to load? There are a number of reasons. With that, various programs are available to offer you top-dollar for your devices (including us, wink). But know who else takes them in? AT&T.
Yes, the phone service actually has a trade-in program for select used devices. If you’re an existing AT&T customer or are thinking about becoming one, the decision might seem obvious – trade in and get top value, right? After all, what’s more convenient than swapping out your old phone for a new one with your mobile carrier?
Well, not everything is quite as smooth as you’d think with AT&T’s trade-in. Let’s break down the pros and cons below.
- What Is the AT&T Trade-In Program?
- How Does Trade-In Work at AT&T?
- In-Store Trade-In
- Online Trade-In
- What Phones and Other Devices Qualify for AT&T Trade-In?
- Does AT&T Take Cracked Phones?
- How Do You Get Paid With AT&T Trade-In?
- AT&T Trade-In Values
- Maximize Your Value With AT&T Trade-In Deals
- Pros and Cons: AT&T Trade-In vs. GadgetGone
Similar to the trade-in programs offered by Apple, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Best Buy, AT&T’s program – not to be confused with the AT&T Next Up upgrade program, which is its own thing – lets you trade in your old device for store credit.
From there, you can use your credit to offset the price of an upgraded device, buy that waterproof phone case you’ve had your eye on, or even put it towards your phone bill (if it’s somewhat outstanding). If you’re feeling especially giving, you even have the option of donating the proceeds from your trade-in to the nonprofit group Cell Phones for Soldiers.
As with basically every other trade-in program, trading in electronics with AT&T starts on the company’s trade-in portal.
- – To begin, you’ll first need to get your initial quote. Start by identifying which device(s) you’d like to trade in and specifying its storage capacity. (Keep in mind that with the company, you can only trade in up to five items per year, thanks to trade conditions.)
- – If you’re trading in a phone, you’ll need to answer some basic questions about your item’s condition including any functional issues or damage the device might have. If you’re trading in anything else, skip to the next step. And remember – be honest. AT&T analyzes equipment that’s sent to them regularly and they know how it works, so report every blemish, every crack and any other quirks you think may be affecting your device.
- – Next, you’ll need to enter in your device’s IMEI or serial number. If you’re a current customer, you’ll also need to include your mobile number.
- – Once you’ve finished answering all the required questions, you’ll receive your item’s estimated trade-in value. Again, it’s conditional, as it can change depending on the final assessment of your item in terms of condition. (That’s why being honest beforehand is very important, as you have a better ballpark in terms of value.)
- – If you like what you see and wish to proceed with the trade, you’ll now have a choice: trading in your item in-store or finishing the process online.
What distinguishes most carrier trade-in programs from platforms like GadgetGone is the ability to skip the online process. If you’re nervous about sending in your device to someone you don’t even know, seeing a friendly face in a store might be a better way to go.
To finish your trade in-store, simply take your item to your nearest AT&T location. Once there, an AT&T team member will look over your device to confirm its specifications and assess it for any cosmetic and functionality issues. (The store might also need final approval from a manager in some cases, so it could take a bit.)
Once everything is finalized, the AT&T representative will confirm your item’s trade-in value. From there, all that’s left to do is accept the offer and spend your money. Keep in mind that means spending the money on an item in-store, or towards AT&T services. It’s not cash, but for someone looking for something new, it’s the next best thing!
Not everyone feels like going to a store these days, especially with all the COVID conditions making the rounds. If that’s the case, you can complete the process of sending in your item directly to AT&T. After getting your quote online, all that’s left to do is fill out your contact details and get your device packed.
Mailing your item to AT&T is free. All you need to do is print out the prepaid shipping label that is provided or request a trade-in kit be sent to you. Keep in mind that if you choose the latter option, you will need to wait five to seven days for the kit to arrive. It’s best to simply provide your own box, something where the item won’t rattle around loose inside.
Devices must be sent to AT&T within 30 days of starting the trade-in process. Once you ship your item out, you can stay updated on your trade-in by checking its status here. After your device is received, their evaluators will look it over to confirm that the condition and specifications match what was originally indicated when starting the trade-in process online. (Again, it helps to be honest. We cannot stress this enough.)
If they do, your item’s trade-in value will be confirmed and your credit will be sent to you within two weeks. If they don’t, its value will be adjusted accordingly depending on what faults were found. As you can imagine, the thought of getting less money than you were originally quoted can be quite frustrating for people, but you’ll have an idea of what you’re getting while taking a look at it.
Fortunately, most trade-in programs will allow you to cancel your trade and request to have your device sent back to you if you don’t like your final offer. Unfortunately, AT&T’s terms and conditions are somewhat vague, so it’s hard to tell what the company’s policy on this truly is. In other words, if the thought of possibly being locked into an offer you’d rather not take makes you itchy, you might want to think about going with someone a little more trouble-free (like GadgetGone, for example).
Whichever option you go with, always be sure to prepare your phone properly before handing it over to AT&T. That means disabling your device’s activation lock, unpairing it from other active devices and/or your iCloud account, taking out your SIM card, and restoring it to factory settings. You’ll also want to unlock it, to assure that AT&T doesn’t have any trouble testing out the device. Learn how to unlock your device here.
For a mobile carrier, AT&T accepts an impressive array of devices for trade-in. In fact, they have one of the largest lineups of qualifying items that we’ve ever seen, with more niche brands and even non-smartphones being accepted. Aside from phones, AT&T also takes a wide variety of other devices including tablets, smartwatches, MP3 players, netbooks, and a slew of other gadgets.
But – and this is a big but – just because AT&T will accept them does not mean that they will pay you for them. Regardless, we think it’s pretty cool, and very convenient if you’re looking for a responsible way to offload your old tech. Given the unwieldy list, finding your item online can be a bit of a pain, so we highly recommend using their search function just to make sure they can take the item, and offer a reasonable amount.
Yes, if your old phone is cracked but you’d still like to trade it in, AT&T will accept it. Bear in mind, however, as with most other trade-in options, it will drop your device’s trade-in value considerably. In fact, if you have any sort of cell phone insurance, such as AppleCare+, you may want to consider having the cracked screen or back fixed first before selling it to help maximize your item’s value. (Provided you don’t have to trade in too much extra.)
To give you some idea of the difference a crack could make in your iPhone’s trade-in value, we compared what an iPhone 12 with 256GB on the Verizon network would be worth with both AT&T and GadgetGone. Needless to say, the difference is quite a bit
Normally, an iPhone 12 in good condition would fetch you $380 in trade-in credit with AT&T. With a crack, however, the trade-in value plummets in half to $190. In contrast, GadgetGone would offer $300 for the same cracked iPhone 11 (or $511 in good condition). That’s right – we offer for a cracked phone for what AT&T just about offers for one with normal wear and tear.
As with most carrier trade-in programs, AT&T doesn’t pay cash for trade-in devices, only store credit. For in-store trade-ins, the credit is able to be used immediately. For online trade-ins, AT&T will mail you a Promotion Card within two weeks once your device is evaluated.
Whichever trade-in method you choose, you’ll be able to use your store credit to either purchase a new device or accessories or to help pay for your monthly bill or AT&T Next installment.
If you’d rather receive cash, you’re going to have to look elsewhere. And by “elsewhere,” we really mean that we hope you choose GadgetGone. Not only do we offer the ability to get paid immediately via Paypal, but we can also provide a mail-in check, as well as an Amazon gift card, just in case you feel like buying something from them.
Now that you know how to trade in your item with AT&T, it’s time to see how the carrier’s buyback values stack up against the competition. To see how much your device could be worth, use AT&T’s online trade-in calculator.
For our comparison, we decided to look at two of the most popular iPhones to trade in right now: the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 7. Keep in mind that each item’s trade-in value will vary based on its specifications, cosmetic condition, and overall functionality.
iPhone 12 256GB, Verizon, good condition
GadgetGone: $511 (cash)
AT&T: $380 (credit)
iPhone 7 256GB, Verizon, good condition
GadgetGone: $81 (cash)
AT&T: $35 (credit)
On the one hand, AT&T has no trouble offering top dollar for newer tech towards its devices or services. However, older device value is questionable, especially considering you can get twice the amount for your iPhone 7 through GadgetGone than you could through them – and in cash, no less. It certainly doesn’t hurt to check their values, but as you can see, it pays to see what we have to offer as well.
Similar to other trade-in programs offered through carriers, AT&T typically offers a few promotions that can be used in conjunction with a trade-in and the purchase of a new device to further maximize your device’s trade-in value (which is helpful considering some of their low paying amounts).
In general, these deals will nab you a bill credit. The actual promotional value of the deal will depend on which smartphone you buy as well as your device’s trade-in value.
Current trade-in promotions with AT&T can be seen here. They’re far and few between, but it does offer them as incentives.
And now for the obvious comparison that tells you, once and for all, which trade-in program is more beneficial. Not to toot our own horn too loudly, but there’s a lot to consider.
Regarding AT&T, for new and existing customers, there’s no question that their trade-in program is a worthy option to consider if they don’t mind getting store credit instead of cash, as long as their device isn’t cracked, and if they’re ok with settling for less trade-in value than some other buyback options. That’s a lot to weigh in.
Fortunately, for folks looking for cash and top dollar trade-in values, there are plenty of alternatives. Again, like us.
We dug into the pros and cons of each to see how they stacked up.
|AT&T Pros:||AT&T Cons:|
|•||Able to get a quote quickly and easily online||•||Low to middling trade-in values on older items|
|•||Shipping your device is free||•||Even lower trade-in value for damaged or cracked phones|
|•||Trade-ins accepted both online and in-store (COVID restrictions aside)||•||Only offer store or bill credit, not cash|
|•||Tons of accepted brands and devices types||•||Many devices are accepted for recycling only|
|•||Deals and promos can maximize your trade-in credit||•||Doesn’t price match competitors (as far as we can tell)|
|•||Convenient for new and existing AT&T customers||•||Not clear on whether your phone will be returned to you if you don’t like your new trade-in offer (it’s quite vague)|
And as you can see above, GadgetGone is quite competitive on pricing, offering twice as much for a working iPhone 7 and even taking in damaged phones for a decent amount, compared to little to nothing from AT&T.
|GadgetGone Pros:||GadgetGone Cons:|
|•||Some of the highest trade-in values in the industry, including cracked devices||•||Unable to trade in in-store – device(s) must be mailed in to be evaluated|
|•||PriceMatch+ Guarantee will beat any competitor’s offer by $5||•||Unable to automatically apply your credit to a bill or upgraded device|
|•||Quick and easy online quote||•||Infrequent trade-in deals|
|•||Many accepted devices|
|•||Shipping your device is free|
|•||Tons of positive reviews|
|•||If you don’t like your updated trade-in offer, your device is returned to you for free|
To sum up, AT&T does offer a decent trade-in program. And the convenience of being able to either send them in online or take them in to a retail location to apply towards a new purchase or your bill is helpful. But with low values and questions surrounding their return policy, they may not be the most reliable when it comes to putting cash in your pocket.
By comparison, GadgetGone, while not offering in-store services (nothing personal, we just don’t have retail stops), does provide convenient shipping options, a bevy of accepted devices, and, most importantly, the largest values you can get. What’s more, you can decide how you’re paid out; and if you change your mind, we’ll see the device back to you hassle-free. If that’s not a win-win, we’re not sure what is.
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