You don’t have to be an eBay whizz or set up stall at a car boot sale to make money from your household clutter. A string of easy-to-use “trade-in” websites will pay cash for second-hand books, CDs, DVDs and other items. Some de-clutterers have pocketed hundreds of pounds for stuff that has been shoved into drawers and forgotten about for years.
MusicMagpie.co.uk buys CDs, DVDs, computer games, electronic goods and even branded clothes, purchasing an estimated million items a week. WeBuyBooks.co.uk, Ziffit.com and Zapper.co.uk take books, CDs, DVDs and games. WeBuyBooks says it has paid out £1 million in total to thousands of users since 2011.
Online shopping giant Amazon has a “trade-in store” for books and games which pays in Amazon credit, while Envirofone.com and MazumaMobile.com buy old mobile phone handsets.
Part of a so-called “recommerce” trend, these online services resell the items they buy, often via eBay or Amazon, and — as refurbished goods — in high street shops.
The sites work in a similar way. Sellers type in the item’s product code or name and obtain an instant price. Repeat for each item you are looking to sell, accept the offers you are happy with, and send off the goods. Most trade-in services cover postage, typically by providing a freepost label or in some cases a free courier pick-up. Generally, sellers are responsible for packaging their items.
Once the site receives the goods and checks their condition it pays out, normally within a week or so. Sites typically offer less than £1 each for CDs, though they will pay a few pounds for some bands and music. Certain books may fetch £5 or more, though many will also be valued at less than £1. Computer games may go for about £15, according to consumer website Moneysavingexpert.com, and prices for phone handsets and gadgets can be much higher, depending on the model.
You might earn more by selling via eBay or trading in computer games at high street game shops, but Moneysavingexpert says: “Where these sites win is convenience.”
Some trade-in sites will pay more than others, so shop around. I was offered a total of between £15 and £27 for about 40 Rolling Stones and other rock CDs. MusicMagpie offered the most overall, followed by Ziffit (£24), then WeBuyBooks (£19), with Zapper paying the least, at £15. In another test, however, Zapper’s prices for certain books were highest.
Book-buying sites are keener on textbooks and non-fiction, including business, self-help and cookery books, than novels.
Trade-in sites will not buy every item you offer and may reduce their price after receiving goods and inspecting them. Typically, they expect items to be in reasonably good condition, although it is also possible to sell damaged mobile phones and gadgets.
WeBuyBooks takes textbooks with highlighting marks, and books with the owner’s name on the inside cover or with general wear-and-tear, such as creased spines. CDs must be playable with the cover artwork intact.
Sites have been accused of sometimes paying out less than they quoted on items with no obvious faults, so it may make sense to initially test a service with a limited order, before sending everything in.
Higher-rate taxpayers could cut their tax bills by giving unwanted items to charity. Under Gift Aid, charity shops boost their income from the sale of donated items by claiming basic-rate tax relief, while donors who are 40 or 45 per cent taxpayers can claim an extra rebate via their tax return. For each £1 items are sold for, there’s an extra 25p for the charity and a 25p tax saving for a 40 per cent taxpayer.