By now, no consumer should be tossing their old mobile devices in drawers when it comes time to upgrade. Not only is it an environmental concern, but you’re also leaving significant amounts of money on the table if you neglect trade-in programs.
But the decision-making process isn’t over when you trade in your old device. Maximizing the return on your trade-in means finding the most valuable ways to apply your credits. And all too often, we see consumers settle for one specific lower-value application.
Seeing Beyond the Trade-In Credit NormThe most common way for consumers to use their trade-in credits is applying them to the bill for a new device. You decide it’s time to upgrade your device, you bring your old device to the point of sale, and you go through the evaluation process to determine how much money you’ll save with the trade-in. It’s a convenient way to cut costs when buying a new mobile device.
But with the rise of equipment installment plans (EIPs), applying trade-in credits to new device purchases has lost some of its value.
In the past, mobile device upgrades came with sizable upfront costs. Carrier and retailer subsidies meant that you could have the latest smartphone for $200 plus taxes. Then, all you’d have to pay was the cost of your monthly plan. Applying the trade-in credits to your bill offer significant value.
Under the newer EIP model, your trade-in credits only go so far. Because there are no upfront costs when upgrading your device (other than taxes), you don’t get the same initial value that you used to under the subsidy model. Trade-in credits can take a chunk out of the total cost of a device upgrade, but it’s unlikely that you’ll get enough credit to completely avoid a monthly installment.
Instead of applying your trade-in credits to your bill out of habit, consider other options to maximize your return.
Two High-Value Ways to Apply Trade-In CreditsDepending on the device you trade in, you could end up with hundreds of dollars to do with as you please. If you want to make the most of those credits, think outside of the bill application box. The following two applications for your trade-in credits can help make it feel like you’re getting more value from trading your old devices:
- Purchasing Accessories: It’s unlikely that you’ll purchase a smartphone and use it without a single accessory. From headphones to Bluetooth speakers, phone cases, screen protectors, media streamers, car chargers, portable batteries, and beyond, accessories have become a critical part of smartphone usage. If you’re going to buy accessories anyway, you might as well use your trade-in credits to offset your costs or justify higher-quality purchases that you’ve always wanted.
- Paying for New Services: If a bill application won’t eliminate the installments for your new device, adding new services to your plan may be a more valuable way to apply trade-in credits. Instead of the standard talk/text/data plan, you could offset the monthly costs of new streaming services, smart watch connectivity, or any of the innovative services that will come as 5G emerges.
How you apply your mobile device trade-in credits is a matter of personal preference. But if you’re getting any amount of money back for trading a device, it makes sense to try to get the most value possible out of those credits.
That all starts with knowing what your current device is worth and finding the right time to make a trade. If you want to learn more about mobile device trade-in values, check out our 2018 summary infographic.