I exchanged a crusty old iPhone for $75 in store credit at Apple — and it only took 30 minutes

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Kif Leswing

  • Earlier this year, Apple debuted a new website that will let you check the value of your old Apple products.
  • Apple will give you store credit for working devices, or simply recycle them if they can’t be resold.
  • Here’s how it works.

Over the years, I’ve collected a fair amount of older computers. Obsolete laptops, phones, and accessories are simply collecting dust and growing even more out of date in a series of drawers and boxes.

Given the fact that Apple seems likely to launch new iPhones and possibly laptops next month, which I will probably consider buying, I thought it was a good time to clear out some of my older gadgetry.

But you can’t just throw old electronics away in the trash. They contain lots of toxic materials that shouldn’t end up in landfills. And sometimes, your old phones and laptops retain a little bit of value, and can be cleaned up and used again.

I had an old iPhone 6 that I hadn’t used in a year. I brought it into an Apple store without an appointment, and about 30 minutes later, I left with a $75 gift card to Apple.

Here’s how it works:


I started at Apple’s website, which can estimate how much your old devices are worth.

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Screenshot

Visit the site here.


It guides you through and asks you a series of questions about your device — does it boot up? Is the screen cracked?

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Screenshot

My iPhone 6 was in pretty good shape, so they gave me an estimated value of $75, which would be paid in an Apple gift card. The website offered to send me a shipping slip so I could mail my old iPhone in.

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Screenshot

That was the same price that Gazelle offered, but the one difference is other trade-in companies can offer you cash.

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Gazelle

But I had an existing consumer relationship with Apple, and I don’t like to ship things with significant value. I can find something — App Store, a new Apple device — to spend a gift card on. So I decided to bring my old iPhone to an Apple store.

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It’s not new, but it still works!
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Kif Leswing

As with anytime you give an old computer or phone to another person, you should take the time to wipe your data. It’s pretty easy, just go to Settings > General > Reset. More information here.


You can’t make a reservation for Apple Giveback. When you walk in, you’re supposed to find an employee near the front.

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Kif Leswing

Although the store was busy, I was helped within 5 minutes.

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Kif Leswing

The Apple store employee walked me through the same questions that Apple asked on its website: Does the phone turn on? Is the screen cracked? Is it particularly scuffed?

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Justin Sullivan / Staff

There was one issue preventing me from trading in my iPhone. I had stuck a magnet on the back so it could work with a dashboard mount — and I couldn’t get it off.

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Kif Leswing

The Apple employee told me that that would be considered a “hardware modification” and while they could recycle it, I couldn’t get any store credit without removing it. I had already tried; I knew it was stuck on there. And the other scuffs on the phone were starting to really stick out to me.

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Kif Leswing

But, luckily, Apple had a tool that it uses to remove stickers and other things from store devices. A few minutes of effort later, the magnet was removed from the iPhone.

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Kif Leswing

From there on, it was only five minutes until I was walking out of the store with an Apple gift card. If I were buying a new phone or anything else, I could’ve used the $75 in credit instantly.

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Kif Leswing

The whole experience only took about 30 minutes from when I got to the store — and that’s including the whole ordeal with the magnet sticker.

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Kif Leswing

I’m planning to do it again with old iOS devices. I also have an aging MacBook Air that I haven’t used in a year. Apple will give me trade-in credit for it, but only online. If I bring it to a store, they can recycle it, but I won’t get anything in return. Still, I think I’m going to use Apple’s program again, especially since it was so easy.

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Dylan Love

Apple uses a robot called Daisy to take apart old and returned iPhone 6 units, but I like to think my device will be refurbished and find a new home.

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Apple

More information available at Apple.