Buying our unwanted CDs, DVDs, mobile phones, computers, games, and even clothes has become big business. Now one of the biggest businesses of them all, Amazon, is getting in on the act with Amazon Trade-In.
The online retail giant will now buy up books and games, up to a maximum value of £150. Amazon isn't actually handling these items directly; instead you send them to third-party companies. However, you are paid in the form of an Amazon gift card, which is added to your Amazon account.
Once your items have been accepted, you print off a pre-paid delivery label. You then have seven days to get your items to the third party. You need to make sure you accurately describe the condition of the items, otherwise you might face the prospect of either a lower fee or the items being returned to you.
I've taken a look at how Amazon Trade-In's prices compare to some of its rivals in this arena. All of these other companies also offer free postage when you sending in your items.
I've started with books, comparing Amazon's prices to three other rivals – Momox, WeBuyBooks.co.uk and Zapper. I haven't included the very worthwhile Green Metropolis, which acts as middleman by listing your books at a flat rate of £3 per book. This is because you could be waiting for a long time for a purchaser, whereas the sites below all offer ready cash.
As you can see, Amazon doesn't fare particularly well, although it didn't offer anything for two of the titles. Having said that, Momox didn't offer anything for four titles and its total was significantly higher; likewise WeBuyBooks, which offered over double.
As John Fitzsimons found when he did a similar exercise with DVDs, on a price per item basis Zapper is the worst place to sell your books.
Obviously if you have a rare edition of a book you can expect to make more. However, if that's the case you should really be looking at selling it via eBay or to a specialist bookshop as you'll almost certainly receive a far better price.
Now let's take a look at games. For this comparison, I've benchmarked Amazon against Music Magpie, CEX (which also has high street shops), Momox and Zapper.
As you can see, Amazon scores rather better here, and its total looks even healthier when you consider it didn't make an offer for one of the games. But bear in mind that you can only trade in your games for a gift card, not cash, unlike the others.
CEX came in second, with Music Magpie third (although it didn't make an offer for two games). Momox and Zapper trailed in last.
What this quick bit of research shows is that it pays to shop around a bit to get the best prices for your items. Mix and match between different buyers; after all, they all offer free postage.
Other places to sell
I've already mentioned eBay as an option. If you want to get a sense of what items are selling for there, just log in to your account, do an advanced search for the item, and select the 'Completed listings' button under 'Search including'.
Amazon also has its own Marketplace, where you're selling directly, and Play.com is now moving over to be an entirely marketplace-driven website.
Bear in mind that all of the above options charge fees for listing your items. For a breakdown of the costs involved in selling in all of these places, see eBay, Amazon, Play.com: where to sell online for less.