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Upgrading? The best trade-in deals for your used tech

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From outdated laptops to battered cell phones, when it comes to recycling your old tech, there are plenty of options to choose from. We checked the policies of a few major manufacturers to find out which company offers the most lucrative trade-in program for your worn out tech.

Apple Recycling Program
The details: Although they'll take your old gadgets free of charge, Apple's recycling program comes with one requirement — the purchase of a new Mac or Apple monitor. Upon completing your new Apple purchase (online or in-store), you'll be asked to opt in to Apple's Recycling Program. Purchasers are then allowed to recycle one computer, one monitor, and any accompanying peripherals such as speakers, a keyboard, mouse, or printer. Apple pays for the shipping of the old computer, but customers must box their own equipment and transport it to the nearest FedEx location. If you have an old iPod you're no longer using, you can recycle it at any Apple Store and receive 10% off the purchase of a new iPod.
Payout: Recycle your old iPod at an Apple Store and get 10% off the purchase of a new iPod.

Dell Recycling
The details: Dell will pick up and recycle any unwanted Dell computer or monitor free of charge. However, non-Dell computers can only be recycled with the purchase of a new Dell system (you must accept the free recycling option during the purchase of your new Dell system). If you have a working computer that you wish to donate, Dell and the National Cristina Foundation have teamed up to deliver working computers to children and adults that are economically disadvantaged. In return, Dell will give you a coupon for 10% off your next purchase at Dell's Electronics & Accessories store. The coupon is valid until February 28.
Payout: Donate a working computer to the National Cristina Foundation and get 10% off Dell's Electronics & Accessories store.

HP Consumer Buyback & Planet Partners Recycling Program
The details: If it's cash you're after, HP's recycling program will pay you for any used desktop, laptop, or peripheral, regardless of the brand. You can receive instant quotes for your products online and HP will also pick up the shipping. Some items, such as our HP Photosmart R707 Digital Camera, have no buyback value. In those cases, HP will recycle your product for free (as long as it's an HP or Compaq brand product; otherwise, you have to pay). However, the majority of the products we looked up had some monetary value. A 4GB Apple iPhone netted $80 while a Pentium 4-based Dell Dimension desktop yielded about $50.
Payout: Although it varies, HP will give you cash in exchange for used tech.

Gateway Trade-In Program
The details: Like HP, Gateway will give you cash in exchange for your unwanted tech. However, if financial gain is your goal, HP's payout is significantly higher than Gateway's. For instance, Gateway offers around $73 for a used 4GB Apple iPhone (that's $7 less than HP's price). In addition, that same Pentium 4-based Dell Dimension that earned you $50 at HP will get you $22 at Gateway. Fortunately, you can use Gateway's Trade-In Estimator to compare pricing before you commit to any program. Items with no value can still be recycled for free, although consumers are responsible for shipping their items to Dealtree, which powers Gateway's trade-in program.
Payout: Gateway will give you money in exchange for your used tech, but on average HP's recycling program offers better rates.

Sony Take Back Recycling Program
The details: Of all the companies we looked at, Sony's recycling program is the only one with no pay out. However, they do provide consumers with three ways or recycling unwanted tech. In partnership with Waste Management, Sony will recycle any unwanted tech item if you drop it off at a nearby Waste Management eCycling drop-off center. (You can locate drop-off centers here.) If you purchase a 32" or larger BRAVIA LCD HDTV with Premier in-home delivery, Sony will box up and remove your old, unwanted TV for free. And lastly, you can bring any Sony batteries to a Sony Style store and recycle them for free.
Payout: None.

Verdict
Although we commend all of the manufacturers for offering recycling programs, HP and Gateway are our top choices if you're trying to squeeze some extra cash out of your used tech. However, if you want more control over the money you get, you should also consider unloading your tech on someone on eBay. For instance, the iPhone and Dell Dimension desktop we mentioned above currently yield, on average, about $225 and $100 on eBay, respectively.

Still need more options? Check out our Gadget Recycling feature to find out what brick and mortar stores will also take your donated or used tech.

Louis Ramirez is dealnews' Features editor.

DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Unless marked as a "Sponsored Deal," the opinions expressed here are those of the author and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the companies mentioned. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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