Apple has confirmed to CNBC that a new iPhone trade-in program will be available in Apple Stores across the United States today — less than two weeks before the Cupertino company is set to announce the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C.
Customers will be able to exchange their old Apple smartphone for a gift card, which can then be redeemed against a new device with a new two-year contract.
Apple already had an iPhone trade-in program in place, thanks to a partnership with BrightStar, which would allow them to exchange their old device for an Apple gift card. However, until today, the program was only available online. Now you can walk into your local Apple store and swap your old iPhone for a brand new one.
The program doesn’t just ensure that old iPhones are recycled properly, but it also encourages existing iPhone customers to upgrade to a newer model and stick with Apple.
“Offering a competitive trade-in program helps ensure those customers stick around, particularly if they receive a gift card instead of cash, as is the case with Apple’s existing online program,” reports CNBC’s Kelli B. Grant.
But Apple isn’t the only company that’ll buy your old iPhone. “Trade-in programs for smartphones have probably become the biggest, hottest area of smartphone transactions this year,” said Eddie Hold, vice president of connected intelligence for research firm NPD Group.
AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have all rolled out early upgrade plans this year, while retailers like Best Buy, Amazon, and Radio Shack will take your old smartphone in exchange for a gift card. There are also dedicated cellphone recycling services like Gazelle.
But Apple does offer customers a decent price for their device. In fact, only Amazon will give you more, according to CNBC. You can get up to $336 for a 16GB iPhone 5, or up to $221 for a 16GB iPhone 4S. That’s more than enough to cover the cost of a brand new iPhone with a two-year contract.
You can also trade-in your old iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS, and of course, the value of your device all depends on its condition. If it’s broken or doesn’t work properly, then you won’t get as much as you would have if it was in pristine condition.
The trade-in program couldn’t have come at a better time, with Apple set to announce new iPhones at a press event on September 10. If you’re hoping to get your hands on the iPhone 5S, then, save your trade-in for a few weeks.