Hardware companies keep pushing out faster, more technologically advanced computer models each year. When an individual or company swaps out their old computer for a newer model, that leaves them with old hardware they may no longer have a use for. However, the last thing you should do is simply chuck your old computer out into the dumpster. What you can do is make some money recycling an old computer while still being environmentally responsibility.
Importance of Properly Disposing of Old Computers
The term electronic waste, or “E-waste”, refers to obsolete computers or other technology that people no longer want. These electronic devices are made with toxic substances like mercury, lead, and chromium. When computer end up dumped in a landfill, all those chemicals end up soaking into the ground, which ends up polluting the air and groundwater.
Considering the state of the environment today, you probably don’t want to literally pile onto the existing problem. But what can you do about the old computer lying around your home or office? You can recycle that laptop or desktop computer for cash or other forms of payment through a variety of means.
Let’s look at some different options for computer disposal that can put a few extra dollars in your pocket. These options may also work for you if you have an old cell phone, tablet, gaming console, or other electronic device that provides some of the same functionality as a standard computer.
Options for Making Cash Recycling an Old Computer
Below are different paths you can pursue to make some money for your old computer that also keeps it from adding to our ever-growing pile of e-waste.
1. Repair and Sell Your Computer
If you have a knack for electronics, then this is a great way to make money recycling your old computer. A lot of older computers only need a few parts replaced to become fully functional. You may be able to find the parts needed to repair the old computer at a local store or locate them online. This can be an option when your old computer starts running slowly and you want to purchase a faster one with more bells and whistles.
Many computer repair shops have refurbished computers for sale. You can do the same if you have enough understanding about computers to perform the required fixes needed. Once you have the parts necessary for repair, you can take the computer apart and replace anything that’s not functional.
Be honest about your ability to repair a computer. You may be able to follow along with a repair tutorial if you’re tech-savvy enough. However, you want to make sure that any computer you sell is in good working order and will last long enough to be useful to the buyer.
One option you can pursue, especially if you have more than one computer to sell, is finding someone who can do the repairs for you. However, that cuts into the overall profits you can make from reselling the recycled computer for cash.
You can place an ad online in places like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. That allows you to advertise to local buyers looking for a device like what you are selling. You can also advertise what you have available for sale to your friends and family.
Most refurbished computers sell at a lower price than the original. Keep that in mind when considering whether to invest in making repairs. The amount you can receive in cash for recycling and selling an old computer varies depending on the age of the device, the specs, and how much longer the device will realistically function once it’s sold.
2. Find Parts From Other Old Computers to Make a New One
Repairing an old computer is a good option if the device is mostly in good working order. What do you do if you have several older computers that you can’t render functional? One option is to look at the hardware specs of each device and see if you can combine them into one new computer.
Again, your success at this effort comes down to how much knowledge you have about repairing computers. If you feel fairly confident about your hardware repair skills, then you can make a nice little profit from building a new computer by parts from several older ones. There are a lot of detailed how-to’s online that can guide you in your efforts if you have the will and ability to follow along with the directions.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of people who have more technical know-how about building a new computer from old parts. Once you’ve completed your build, put it through extensive testing to ensure it is functional and ready to sell to a customer.
You don’t want to build up a poor reputation by selling shoddy builds. People WILL go online and let others know about their experience. The more effort you put into creating a quality product, the better off you will be in the long run. You can end up running a nice side-business building new computers and selling them online or to local hardware stores.
3. Break the Computer Down and Sell the Parts
Another way you can make cash from recycling old computers is by breaking them down and selling the old parts. This is a good option if you only have one non-functional computer or have several non-working devices that can’t be combined into a new one. Many people who repair computers often end up with a pile of parts they don’t have a use for.
These parts can be sold to online or local vendors for some extra cash. You’re likely to find something of value in even the oldest computer. For example, the motherboard may be completely fried on your 10-year-old desktop, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sell the valuable metal plating used to hold components in place.
The more you put in time building or repairing old computers, the larger an parts inventory you can build up. Places like eBay are a good option for selling old computer parts. You can also try hanging out in various computer forums and look for postings from people looking for specific parts you may have in your current inventory.
Some computer parts you can potentially sell to others for some extra cash include:
- Cleaned hard drives
- Raid Cards
- Video Cards
- Optical Drives
- Network Adaptors
- RAM Memory
4. Trade In Your Old Hardware
There are a number of stores and websites that are constantly on the lookout for old computers and other hardware like phones and tablets. They typically pay you in cash or gift cards, depending on the condition of the devices. If they have a newer computer that you’d like to have, they may credit you for the value of your old device toward the cost of the new model. Below you will find a list of places that accept old computers and other hardware in exchange for cash or other forms of payment.
Amazon Trade-In takes everything from old computers to Kindle readers you no longer use. Your device must meet the minimum standards outlined as in their electronic submissions criteria. Sellers must own the device outright and not have any outstanding financing, like an amount still owed to a third-party phone carrier. Some standards the company outlines for acceptable device conditions include:
- Ability to power on
- Not power down unexpectedly
- No breaks, dents or cracks
- All buttons attached/not missing
- No water damage
- No signs of corrosion
Amazon provides you with a prepaid shipping label to use for sending in your item. If the company decides that your device meets their outlined standards, they offer payment in the form of Amazon gift cards. Use their search engine to get an idea of the trade-in value of devices similar to yours.
Target currently accepts only computers and tablets for trade-in. Target offers gift cards or directly sends you cash through a valid PayPal account. They promise same-day processing and prompt payment.
Using Target Trade-In to recycle old computers is a fairly simple process. You generate a quote of what you feel your device is worth. They provide you with a pre-paid label to use for shipping the device to their company. Target Trade-In assesses your old electronics and offers you what they feel is the best value based on the device’s actual condition.
Gazelle is one of the most popular sites for buying and selling old electronic devices. You can look up your item and find the value based on the make and model of your computer. They will provide you with an offer for your device and provide a shipping label if the value of your device is more than $1. Gazelle reviews your device once they receive it and pays you with an Amazon Gift card, by check, or through PayPal.
Below, you’ll find a list of other trade-in sites that provide similar services to the three companies listed above. They’re good options for recycling your old computers and devices for cash or other payment.
5. Sell Leftover Parts to Scrap Yards
If you don’t feel that any of the other options are for you, then try taking your old computer down to a local electronic scrapyard to see what they might offer. It’s not likely to net you a lot of money, but they should be able to dispose of the device without creating more e-waste.
Tips on Recycling Old Computers for Cash
Before you let yourself get entranced by dollar signs, take these tips into account before getting started.
1. Decide If Selling Is Worth the Effort
If your computer’s more than a few years old, you likely will not make much money off a sale through trade-in, even if it’s running and in decent condition. A better option may be to check your local city services and see if they will pick up the old computer and dispose of it safely. You may want to do this if the cost of repairing a non-functional computer is worth more than the potential sale value.
2. Protect and Backup Your Information
Make sure you’ve signed out of all online accounts like Google Drive or a Samsung account. You don’t want to leave anyone an easy opening to steal your information. Make sure you don’t leave any passwords or other critical information saved anywhere on your hard drive.
Create a full backup of your system and files. You never know when you might need to restore them to a different device to access information like old tax filings. See if your computer comes with a built-in system image backup.
3. Erase Your Hard Drive
Leave nothing behind that’s tied to your personal data. Many computers have a recovery option installed that erases everything from your hard drive and resets it back to the factory settings.
4. Protect Yourself Online
If you choose to use an online service to sell your device for cash, make sure you provide as many details as possible. Be honest about its current condition so that potential buyers understand what they are getting. If you use a platform that lets you promote your device, provide a clear description along with pictures. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions of using the service and under what circumstances you might face financial liability.
Be careful about providing personal information about yourself if you use an online service. You may be better off selling your device to someone you know. Staying within your circle of contacts can help you avoid the harassment that can come with trying to sell your device online, though you might not receive as much money.
If you decide to meet someone who contacted you online in person, choose a safe location where both of you are visible. Let someone know where you are going and with whom you plan to meet. For extra protection, you can ask the buyer to provide you with a photo to use for identification.