Can you save money by recycling tech?

We break down how recycling schemes work, how much money they can save you, and which companies give the best prices for old devices.

A man loading a pile of used laptops into the back of a van
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ever bought a new phone or laptop and wondered what to do with the old one? Old tech may take up space in your home, but if you have unused devices lying around, don’t just throw them out. Why not make some extra cash by trading them in?

With refurbished devices getting more popular in the UK, it’s no surprise that the tech recycling market is booming. From specialist resellers to big-name tech brands, hundreds of companies run recycling schemes where they’ll buy your old devices for cash, credit or money off your next purchase.

According to a 2019 survey by Which?, 35% of people don’t know how to recycle old devices, and 36% believe it’s too difficult. In reality, many of these schemes are straightforward. Join us as we break down how they work & how much money they can save you, and look into the schemes that are currently on offer from some major retailers.

How to recycle technology

There are a number of ways you can recycle your technology. First, you can resell on sites like eBay as a seller. However, if you don’t want to deal with any admin, you can opt for a recycling scheme instead.

Recycling schemes let you tell a company what kind of device you have and what condition it’s in. They’ll send you a quote based on this, and if you are happy with the price they offer you, you can send it to them in exchange for cash or credit. Some schemes will offer to cover the cost of shipping for you to send them your device, whilst others will need you to cover this cost yourself.

How much money can I make?

The price a company will quote you for a device will vary from scheme to scheme, and factors such as device condition, the age of your device & how recent the model is will also bring that figure up or down. 

Generally, a quote is given based on the condition you describe, and this will be assessed once the company receives your device. If the device is in better or worse condition than you described, the quoted price may move up or down accordingly. However, many companies will give you a chance to change your mind if they have to amend the quote, and some companies even try to draw customers in by promising to meet their original quote no matter what.

Companies treat any goods they acquire through trade-in schemes as refurbished devices, and grade them accordingly. These are also the grades they use on quotes, especially in regard to item condition. You can read more about how refurbished grading works in our guide to buying refurbished technology

A man & woman looking at a quote for old devices on their laptop

(Image credit: Getty Images)

iNews reported on research carried out by Compare and Recycle, which calculated how much some common devices were worth at trade-in:

  • iPhone XS (good condition, 3 years old) - £192
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 (good condition) - £145
  • 2018 iPod (good condition) - £125
  • Series 3 Apple Watch - £60

Meanwhile, The Express took a look at what Music Magpie would offer you for the latest iPhone models in late 2022. You can find the prices at the time of writing below:

  • iPhone 13 Pro Max (Good condition, 128GB storage) - £600 
  • iPhone 13 (Good condition, 128GB storage) - £461 
  • iPhone 12 (Good condition, 64GB storage) - £332
  • iPhone 11 (Good condition, 64GB storage) - £218
  • iPhone XR (Good condition, 64GB storage) - £131
  • iPhone X (Good condition, 64GB storage) - £141
  • iPhone SE 2020 (Good condition, 64GB) - £101

Which companies will recycle my tech?

There are now hundreds of companies that trade in the UK and offer some kind of trade-in or recycling scheme. Comparing them can be hard, as different schemes will accept different models, brands, and items in different conditions. They’ll also pay out in different ways, which you should bear in mind when choosing a scheme.

Join us as we run through the different kinds and give a few examples of how these schemes work for specific retailers. Where possible, we’ll try and find out what schemes will offer for an unlocked Grade A/like new iPhone 13 with 128GB storage. 

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that some of these schemes are with laptop retailers, who might not buy smartphones (or will only buy ones they’ve made). Where companies do not buy iPhones, we will try and list a price they’ll offer for another popular product.

Resellers

A family hands their old devices over to a reseller

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Resellers base their business model on reselling and recycling devices and other items, often replenishing their stock with items they buy through customer trade-ins. They tend to sell & buy a wide range of devices including smartphones, and games consoles, laptops & smartwatches. 

Some may have high-street stores, whilst others operate purely online. Examples include Music Magpie, CeX, & Compare and Recycle. Here’s what some of the leading resellers are offering for an unlocked Grade A/like new iPhone 13 with 128GB storage at the time of writing:

  • CeX: £267 (cash) OR £368 (store credit)
  • Music Magpie: £415 (via payment method of your choice)
  • WeBuyAnyPhone.com: £428 (bank transfer)

Compare and Recycle is another online business worth mentioning. They act more like a price comparison site, letting you compare resellers. You can type in a device name or serial number, and they will assess how much different companies will pay you for your tech. You can also see if they offer free shipping & packaging, how you can receive your payment, and how long it will take to arrive.

Some businesses that aren’t strictly resellers also do operate in part as resellers, giving customers the option to buy second-hand. A good example is GAME, who will buy games consoles from customers, which they then sell on. At the time of writing, GAME will buy a PS5 with a disc tray for £160 (cash) or £200 store credit.

Generalist tech retailers

Someone fixing an old smartphone ready for resale

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Large tech retailers that sell a wide range of technology also tend to offer recycling schemes and accept as wide a range of devices as they sell in most cases. Expect to be able to sell them laptops, smartphones & game consoles Examples include Currys, AO & Argos

Tech retailers tend to have dedicated pages on their websites that you can use to identify what device you have and how much it’s worth. However, they sometimes prefer not to pay customers directly, instead offering store credit or gift cards for use on future orders. You’ll still find plenty offering bank transfers, though!

Here’s what some of the leading generalist tech retailers are offering for an unlocked Grade A/like new iPhone 13 with 128GB storage at the time of writing:

  • Currys: £335 (gift card) 
  • AO: £350 (bank transfer)
  • Argos: £329 (bank transfer)

Note that Amazon does offer a trade-in scheme, but only “pays” customers when they trade in devices at the same time as making a new purchase by giving them a discount off the price of their new order. The latest model Amazon is accepting is the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which with 128GB of storage, nets you £429 off a new purchase.

John Lewis may also occasionally run trade-in offers, but these are not available all year round and only run on specific products that are in demand. Prices change from deal to deal, so watch out for these as and when they appear.

Tech brands

Someone fixing a broken laptop ready for resale

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether you're looking for laptops, smartphones, games consoles, or TVs, there are hundreds of well-known and loved tech brands on the market such as Dell, Lenovo, Acer, HP and Samsung.

Many of these brands run their own trade-in schemes that allow you to sell them selected devices. Some of these brands will only buy back their own devices. For example:

  • HP: Will buy HP laptops & PCs in exchange for up to £200 in cashback paid to your bank account
  • Microsoft: Will buy Microsoft devices such as smartphones, laptops & Xboxes in exchange for bank transfer or store credit (offering £129 for like new 1TB Xbox One consoles)
  • Apple: Will buy back Apple devices, such as £329 for a good condition iPhone 13 with 128GB of storage

Other brands will buy devices from competitors as well as their own, giving you a chance to offload all of your old tech in one go:

  • Dell: Buys Dell & Alienware laptops as well as laptops made by other brands in exchange for store credit
  • Lenovo: Buys Lenovo devices as well as tech from other brands through EnviroFone for cash or bank transfer (effectively acting as a reseller)
  • Acer: Buys Acer tech as well as devices made by other brands in exchange for store credit
  • HTC Trade Up: Buys all brands of smartphones - will buy a like-new unlocked iPhone 13 with 128GB storage for up to £328
  • Samsung: Buys back their own devices as well as those of competitors in exchange for discounts on future Samsung orders (worth up to £330)

Mobile phone suppliers

A pile of used smartphones ready to be recylced

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Finally, some mobile networks or mobile phone outlets also offer trade-in schemes, which usually cover smartphones, tablets & smartwatches (but usually not laptops). Most of these businesses buy tech from all kinds of brands, which they then repair and sell on in their refurbished sections. Some pay out via discounts on future orders to try and keep people on their networks, whilst others pay via bank transfer.

With mobile companies like Carphone Warehouse and Vodafone, we can go back to our original example of an unlocked Grade A/like new iPhone 13 with 128GB storage:

  • Giffgaff: Up to £350 (bank transfer)
  • Carphone Warehouse: £335 (bank transfer)
  • EE: Up to £329 (store credit)
  • Vodafone: Up to £328

O2 also offers the occasional trade-in offer, but these are not available all year round and appear on a case-by-case basis, often giving you discounts of up to £200 off your next purchase. Check their website to see if there are any opportunities to trade-in selected handsets right now.

So whether you’ve got an old phone, laptop, games console, speaker or smartwatch, old devices don’t have to just be relegated to the rubbish - they can actually be a great way to make a little extra money or get a discount on your next order. Make sure to compare a few different schemes to see which will offer you the best price for your tech, and save money giving old gadgets a new life.

Harry Bowden-Ford


I’m Harry, the tech editor, and I started working at MyVoucherCodes in March 2022. When I’m not writing about retailers, I spend my time listening to music and podcasts, playing guitar in a band and writing music reviews. I’m also a fan of long walks, reading new books, kicking back in front of the Xbox and discovering new places.