This September has been a big month in Apple-land. Jobs, the biopic film about Apple founder Steve Jobs staring Ashton Kutcher, premiered in theaters around the country; Apple launched its new iOS7 operating system; and most notably, Apple released its much anticipated iPhone 5S and 5C models, and as predicted, mass hysteria ensued. People camped out overnight outside Apple stores, and some iPhone fanatics even paid the homeless to queue their space in line. According to my local news station, a woman reportedly offered to trade her $2000 Louis Vuitton purse to the person at the head of the line outside the Apple store in exchange for her spot in line. A filmmaker even made a short documentary film documenting the hysteria of the iPhone 5S/5C lines in NYC (click here to watch the film on YouTube).

So what about you? Did you (or are planning to) get a new iPhone? Or, do you own an iPhone but plan on switching to a different brand of phone? Either way, do you know what you are going to do with your old phone? While you could just let it gather dust in your “Gadget Graveyard” box under your bed, you’d be missing out on potential cash-in or trade-in credit opportunities. You have several viable options to earn something other than dust bunnies from your old iPhone.

(Note: While this article talks specifically about trade-in and cash-in options for iPhones, all the options discussed below, except for the Apple Store Trade-in Program option, are typically applicable to both iPhones as well as a variety of other types of mobile devices.)

Retail Store Trade-In Programs

Apple Store: The Apple Store just announced its new trade-in program for old iPhones. Simply visit your local Apple store and tell a sales associate that you want to trade in your old iPhone. The sales associate will tell you if you are upgrade eligible. If you are, he or she will quote you a credit amount (i.e., $100, $250) for your old iPhone based on its condition, model and other specifications. If you accept the offer, you can trade in your iPhone on the spot (the store will wipe your phone’s personal data for you), and you’ll receive the quoted trade-in credit amount which must be used to buy a new iPhone from the Apple store.

Best Buy: Best Buy offers both an online and in-store trade-in program for eligible smartphones, including many types of iPhones. The online trade-in program for eligible phones works like this:

  1. Go to Best Buy’s Trade-In website.
  2. Search the list of eligible mobile phones to see if your phone is eligible for trade in. You did not have to purchase your phone from Best Buy to be eligible. If you see your mobile phone in the list of eligible phones, click on the link for your mobile phone.
  3. Answer a series of questions about the mobile phone you want to trade in, and get an estimate for what your device may be worth.
  4. The Trade-In Center will offer you a price. If you accept it, you will be prompted to provide your personal and shipping information into the system.
  5. Print out your free UPS shipping label. Place your phone in a box with the prepaid UPS shipping label affixed to it, and ship it from a UPS Store or call UPS to arrange a home pickup.
  6. When your phone arrives at the Trade-In Center, the Center will inspect and test your phone. They will also wipe all your personal data off your phone. If the Trade-In Center determines that your phone is worth the trade-in value they previously offered you, they will mail you an electronic Best Buy gift card via email about 7–14 days after receiving your phone.
  7. If the Trade-In Center decides that your phone is worth less than they originally quoted you, they will send you an email explanation and offer you a revised price. You can accept the revised price or pay the shipping costs for your phone to be mailed back to you. If you accept the revised price, you will receive an electronic Best Buy gift card via email in about 7–14 days.

Best Buy also has an in-store trade-in program for eligible devices, but these must have been originally purchased at Best Buy to be eligible. Here’s how it works:

  1. Go to Best Buy’s Trade-In website and click on the “Mobile Phones” link. Search the list of eligible mobile phones to see if the phone you want to trade in is included on the list. If it is, proceed to the next step.
  2. Find a participating trade-in store location near you by entering your zip code in this online Trade-In Store Locator Tool. Not all Best Buy stores offer in-store trade ins.
  3. Bring your eligible mobile phone to your participating Best Buy store and present your valid Best Buy receipt for the phone. You must also be at least 18 years old and show a valid, government-issued photo ID.
  4. A store associate will inspect your phone and offer you a trade-in price.
  5. If you accept the offer, you will immediately receive a Best Buy gift card in the amount of the offered trade-in price. You can also choose to have a check mailed to you for a lesser value than the gift card.

Walmart: At 3,600 participating Walmart and Sam’s Club stores across the country, customers are currently able to receive immediate trade-in credit to be used for the purchase of a new smartphone when they trade in their current smartphone. For more than 100 types of smartphones including a variety of iPhones, the trade-in program offers immediate credit ranging from $50 to $300 depending on the make, model, and condition of the smartphone as well as other specifications. While you can use your trade-in credit towards a new smartphone of your choice, the trade-in program requires that you sign a 2-year contract from AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon Wireless. Alternatively, you can apply the trade-in credit to a smartphone eligible for a prepaid plan like Straight Talk (Walmart’s prepaid cellphone service plan where you pay $45 a month for unlimited talk, text, and data usage/web access).

GameStop: GameStop offers an in-store trade-in program for a variety of mobile phones, including many makes and models of iPhones. Here’s how it works:

  1. Go to the GameStop website’s trade-in page and select your product from the drop-down menu (for iPhones select “iPhone” from the menu) and then click on the “Go” button.
  2. Select your iPhone from the list of eligible iPhones and then click on the “Get Offer” button.
  3. Click on the tab (“Like New,” “Good,” “Poor,” or “Broken”) that best describes the condition of your iPhone.
  4. Review the trade-in offer and then click on the “Print Offer” button.
  5. Follow the prompts to print out your offer, and then bring your printed offer sheet and iPhone to any GameStop store.
  6. A GameStop employee will inspect your iPhone and either confirm the original offer or make you a revised offer.
  7. If you accept the offer, you can choose to immediately receive a GameStop gift card for the offer amount or cash for a lesser amount than the gift card value.

Specialized Companies Offering Cash-In Programs for Old Mobile Phones

Gazelle: Gazelle is an online service that allows you to sell your old iPhone (as well as other electronic devices such as iPad, Android phones or Blackberry phones) for cash. To sell your old iPhone to Gazelle, select your phone from the list of devices on the website and answer questions regarding its condition. Gazelle will offer you an initial quote for the value of the phone. Then, ship your phone to Gazelle with the provided prepaid shipping label. Upon receipt of the item, Gazelle will inspect the item and either confirm its initial quote or increase or decrease it. If you accept the offer, Gazelle will pay you the offered amount using your choice of a check, PayPal, or an electronic Amazon gift card. NextWorth operates in a similar manner to Gazelle as it offers customers money for a variety of electronic devices and mobile phones including various makes and models of iPhones. On the site, anwser questions about your phone and get an instant quote. Ship your phone to NextWorth via UPS for free. Upon receipt, NextWorth will inspect your phone and either confirm or adjust its initial offer. If you accept the offer, you will be paid the next business day by your choice of a check, PayPal, or a Target gift card.

ecoATM Machines: The ecoATM is an automated, consumer self-serve kiosk that quickly evaluates and buys back used consumer electronics (including many varieties of iPhones and other mobile devices) directly from consumers for cash. There are over 650 ecoATMs inside malls in 41 different states. To find a location near you, click here. Here’s how to use an ecoATM machine:

  1. Place your mobile device in the ecoATM test station.
  2. Verify your identify with a driver’s license and fingerprint.
  3. The ecoATM will scan your device and make you a cash offer.
  4. Choose to accept or decline the offer.
  5. If you accept the offer, the ecoATM keeps your device and then gives you cash on the spot.
  6. If you decline the offer, the ecoATM returns your phone to you.
7 Easy Ways to Trade or Cash In Your Smartphone