There are many ways to resell, recycle, or trade in your old iPhone. You could sell it directly through online auction sites and marketplaces, sell it locally with a site like Craigslist, give it to a family member in need of an upgrade, or even trade it in at one of a variety of sites dedicated to buying and reselling old devices. One of the most popular trade-in sites is Apple’s own Apple Trade-In program — but is it the best way to trade in your old phone?

Let’s assume that you want to trade in your old device at one of these ship-it-and-forget-it trade in sites. There’s lots of them — from Gazelle to Decluttr to carrier offerings to our own trade in partner MyPhones Unlimited. But Apple themselves also offers a trade in service that comes with its own set of pros and cons.

Apple Trade-In: The benefits

For one, Apple Trade-In lets you skip all the hassle and trade in your device directly for another Apple device. That means you can by a new iPhone, add your trade to checkout, and ship off your old iPhone and have the trade-in value directly credited to your card. It’s hard to argue with that kind of convenience, and most other trade-in services can’t beat that if you’re buying from Apple.

Another big benefit of Apple’s trade-in service is that Apple itself runs it — which means it’s a bit more trustworthy than most. Even though trades go through a partner, it’s backed by one of the world’s largest companies ever — a company obsessed with customer service, no less — so you can rest assured that you’re going to get the quoted value for your device. And you’re probably not going to have any headaches with Apple Trade-In… even if you make a mistake.

Finally, Apple Trade-In tends to offer some decent values. Not only are the trade-in values usually pretty fair, but Apple has also had a habit of running special trade in deals for the last couple years. If you were an iPhone upgrader going to the iPhone X or iPhone XS, you might have scored a really great deal with Apple padding those values even more than usual to attract trades. This is definitely something to keep an eye out for.

Apple Trade-In: The downsides

Perhaps the biggest downside with Apple Trade-In is that you can’t put any of the value of your trade toward anything but an Apple product. If you are trading in your device with an active order on Apple.com or the Apple Store app, that credit is going straight back to your card. And if you decide to trade in a device without a purchase, you’re going to be stuck with an Apple Store gift card. That may or may not be a concern for you.

Second, while Apple Trade-In does offer some of the more reasonable trade-in values for old devices, they’re not always the best. Our trade-in partner MyPhones Unlimited, for instance, can often be spotted with trade-in values better than Apple’s. And our partner is offering cash… which obviously means you aren’t restricted to putting that money right back into a purchase from the Cupertino, California-based company.

Compared to simply selling your device outright on Craigslist or eBay, you have far less control with Apple Trade-In. For instance, I initiated a trade of one of my devices when I purchased a new MacBook last Friday, and the trade-in box that Apple’s partner sends out for me to ship in my old laptop has yet to arrive. It could be many days — or weeks — before I ever see my trade-in value reimbursed to my credit card. You’re definitely giving up control when you pick Apple Trade-In or any trade service.

So what?

Whether you’re looking to trade in, sell, or simply recycle your old Apple products, there are many trade-in options to pick from. Apple Trade-In, while just one of many options to consider, is certainly one of the better options, especially if you’re going to be using those funds to buy new Apple products anyway. There are competitors, though, and they’re worth checking out. MyPhones Unlimited gives us a share of trades, so using them will support 9to5Mac. And other trade-in outlets like Decluttr and Gazelle sometimes have competitive rates, too.

So it’s not really a black-and-white answer — the answer is truly “it depends”. We’d recommend checking out our full guides to trading in your devices to get a full idea of your options.

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You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel

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