It’s ‘Game Over’ for Your Money Woes — Turn Your Used Games into Quick Cash
I grew up using computers.
When I was 6 years old, I was introduced to Prince of Persia on the iMac, which sparked a lifelong video game hobby. I never looked back.
Over the years, I’ve accrued tons of outdated video games and consoles, which I let go to waste at first.
They sat there collecting dust until I got a nostalgic second wind and turned them on. That reminiscent spurt would last about 20 minutes before I would get bored and place the games neatly back into the rectangular, dustless outline on the shelf where they would hibernate until I got nostalgic again.
But that was before I discovered a few strategies to maximize my payout when I sell video games for cash (or gas and groceries).
Using these tricks at GameStop can get you up to 50% extra cash for your video games.
So if you need to fill up your gas tank by the end of the week or you need a boost to help you make rent, selling your video games (after you’ve finished them, of course) can be a great way to make money on a deadline.
Below is a walk-through of some trade-in techniques using a few Nintendo Switch video games and a wired Nintendo Switch controller as an example.
How Does the GameStop Trade-In Policy Work?
Selling games, consoles or electronics to GameStop is pretty straightforward. You take in your gear, and an associate at the checkout counter appraises it. They’ll give you varying quotes depending on the demand and quality.
Recently, they’ve expanded their store to include other consumer electronics outside of video games. You can also trade in things like smartphones and even drones now.
To get your payout, you’ll need a valid ID and will have to fill out a simple application, similar to those at pawnshops. A fingerprint is required.
Can You Sell Video Games for Money at GameStop?
The simple answer is yes, but the whole point of this guide is to maximize your payout. So don’t take the money and run as soon as you hear the cash quote. A few other tricks will help you get extra money, including using the store credit offer to your advantage.
Typically that offer will be much higher — in my case, 54% higher.
How to Turn Your GameStop Trade-In Credit Into More Cash
I’ll use my example to teach you how to get much more cash for your used games.
What I brought with me to GameStop:
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
- Super Mario Odyssey.
- Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
- A Zelda-themed corded controller.
After checking out my games and controller, the associate offered me $72.40. At this point, you may be tempted to go for the cash, but I promise you the next step is worth your time. Plus, that offer is barely 35% of the retail price.
We can do better than that.
My pupils turned to dollar signs when I heard his store credit offer: $111.14. (Is this the same GameStop from my childhood? I don’t remember getting offers like that.)
Store credit, as its name implies, works on almost anything you can find in the store or on GameStop.com, including electronics, accessories and games. It can even be used with its partner site, Think Geek, which sells all kinds of geeky gadgets, toys and clothes.
But chances are, if you’re in a financial pinch, you probably need money for food, not a Spider Man T-shirt.
This is where we turn the store-credit system to our advantage. Instead of getting your credit on a GameStop card, you can opt to get it on one of many other gift cards.
And GameStop has quite a few to choose from. You can browse the full list on their website, but here are a few of the best gift cards:
- Burger King
- Google Play store
- Shell gas
Two notable exceptions that you cannot purchase with store credit are Amazon and Visa gift cards.
Now if you already see a gift card you love, you may want to get the full balance transferred and call it a day. But if you want to increase your cash payout, opt for the Shell gas card because there is one more step: exchanging the gift card online.
Exchange Your Gift Card for More Cash
The Penny Hoarder has an in-depth guide on how to sell gift cards for cash. I used a couple of these sites to test which one would give me the most cash for a Shell gas card and for the default GameStop gift card.
The reason I recommend transferring your trade-in credit to a Shell gas card is because that card is the most universally in demand. Most people need gas. Not everyone wants GameStop credit.
Here are the results:
|$111.14 GameStop Gift Card||$111.14 Shell Gas Card|
|Cardpool||$93.07 Amazon gift card; $87.80 cash||$101.32 Amazon gift card; $95.58 cash|
|CardCash||$87.80 cash||$95.36 cash|
Cardpool seems like the best choice, and you get more than one option, as all gift cards can be transferred to Amazon.
Remember the initial cash offer? It was $72.40. Now we’re just a few dollars away from our old friend Benjamin Franklin.
How to Get the Most In-Store Credit for Your GameStop Trade-In
By now, you know the value of opting for the in-store credit. If you exchange it using Cardpool, you can turn that GameStop store credit into 32% more cash and even more in Amazon credit.
But there are a few other ways to make sure you’re getting the best quote. These tips could get you up to 30% extra trade-in value with GameStop.
PowerUp Rewards Program
The PowerUp Rewards program at GameStop offers members-only benefits. The program is tiered, and the basic membership is free. The free tier offers points, which can be redeemed for discounts and other perks, based on how much you spend in the store. Free members also get birthday bonuses.
The perks don’t really kick in until you get a PowerUp Rewards Pro membership. This costs $14.99 a year, but it is worth it if you frequent GameStop.
Pro members get:
- Double points on purchases and trade-ins.
- 10% extra trade-in credit for used games.
- Discounts on used games.
- 12 issues to Game Informer magazine.
When I traded in the games above, I unfortunately didn’t have an active Pro membership. My trade in value could’ve been 10% higher from the get-go, which would have almost paid for the cost of the membership.
“Elite” Pro members get an additional 10% trade-in value. So my $111.14 store credit could have been $133.37. (Elite, indeed.)
(As of August 1, 2018, GameStop stopped accepting new Elite Pro members. Current Elite members still have Elite perks until their subscriptions expire.)
Keeping Your Games in Good Shape
Keeping your electronics in good condition will go a long way when you’re trying to trade them in. Make sure they’re not scratched and that they’re in the original cases. This ensures you will get the best quote.
It should go without saying, but don’t try to trade them in if they’re broken. GameStop tests them.
Trading In at the Right Time
If you don’t have a pressing bill to pay and you’re looking for the best way to increase the trade-in offer, patience pays off.
Throughout the year, GameStop has random trade-in promotions where they will offer extra money for used games. Sometimes it applies to all trade-ins, and other times it’s only for in-demand games.
They don’t announce them far in advance, so you’ll have to check their website for current promotions. PowerUp Rewards members get notifications for these events.
Timing also plays a factor regardless of the promotion. Depending on how new your game is, your trade-in quote will fluctuate, which makes sense: Newer games generally earn you more money.
For older games, it’s best to wait for one of those promotions. Or you could wait for a really long time for the game to be considered retro. Those games are back in style.
Now that I come to think of it, I wonder how much my GameCube could fetch me.
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