How to maximize your MacBook trade-in

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Even a broken MacBook is worth something -- if you take the right steps and find the right buyback program.
Even a broken MacBook is worth something.
Photo: MyPhones Unlimited

Because there are fewer MacBooks than iPhones on the market, and the laptops are more difficult to repair, buyback programs typically shortchange you when it comes to Apple computers.

But there are three easy tricks that will help you maximize your profit when you trade your old MacBook for cash. (You’ll also want to choose your buyback company wisely, but don’t worry — we’ve got a hot tip for that as well.)

How to maximize your MacBook trade-in

  • If a key or two is missing, try replacing it yourself. While a laptop with a missing key is considered “broken,” parts can be picked up online for only a couple of bucks and popped on in less than a minute, increasing the computer’s value by hundreds of dollars at trade-in time.
  • Don’t erase the OS or remove the hard disk drive. When a computer won’t boot properly, its buyback price plummets. The money and time saved by removing the HDD doesn’t compare with the amount you’d sacrifice in buyback value.
  • Take any and all stickers off cthe machine. Nobody enjoys scraping off stickers — including buyback companies, which will often drop your price for having to remove them.

The sad state of most MacBook buyback programs

Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart won’t offer any money for broken MacBooks. Even Gazelle and NextWorth offer little in comparison to the true value of the machines.

Using a 15-inch, 2.4-GHz Retina MacBook Pro from 2013 as a measuring stick, we compared prices across all these popular buyback platforms — and then compared them to Cult of Mac’s own buyback program.

As mentioned, Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart were no-gos when it came to that MacBook trade-in. Gazelle offered $180 for a broken MacBook of this model, and NextWorth offered $165, depending on whether a charger was included. Meanwhile, Cult of Mac’s buyback program is offering $250 if the damage is merely physical (broken screen, missing keys, bent ports, etc.). And we’ll pay $150 even if the laptop won’t turn on at all.

These are not unique results for a unique device — on almost all laptops, we found the comparison between the various buyback programs to be the same.

Find out how much your old MacBook is worth

Want to know how much your old and/or broken MacBook is worth? Check the laptop section of the Cult of Mac buyback program to find out in less than a minute.

  • Barry Marshall

    Trade in. Not likely. I have now five MacBook Pro’s, though one of them is collecting dust that is from 07 as well as an iMac. To much on the HD’s and SSD’s that could be lifted off the drives.