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Over the years, I’ve accrued tons of outdated video games and consoles, which I let go to waste at first.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 trade-in tricks at GameStop can get you up to 48% 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 to Maximize Your GameStop Trade-In Value
I’ll use my own personal example to teach you how to get much more cash for your used games at GameStop.
What I brought with me to GameStop to trade in:
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 store associate offered me $72.40 in cash. At this point, you may be tempted to take the money, 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.
Ask for Your Trade-In Value in Store Credit
In my case, the appraiser offered cash first. If the appraiser doesn’t mention your trade-in value in store credit, be sure to ask. 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 accessories, apparel, video game consoles, games and other consumer electronics. 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 new console or a Spider Man T-shirt.
Transfer Your Store Credit to a Gift Card
This is where we turn the trade-in system to our advantage. Instead of getting your in-store credit on a GameStop card, you can opt to get it on one of many other gift cards at a 1:1 rate.
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
- Xbox and more
Two notable exceptions that you cannot purchase with store credit at GameStop are Amazon and Visa gift cards.
Now if you already see a gift card you love, you may want to get the full trade-in balance transferred and call it a day. But if you want to increase your cash payout for your trade in, 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 that teaches you how to sell gift cards for cash. I used a couple of the gift-card-exchange 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:
|CardCash quote||GiftCash quote|
|$111.14 GameStop gift card||$83.36nn||$77.80|
|$111.14 Shell Gas card||$94.47||$100.03|
GiftCash seems like the best choice, offering $100.03 in cash for the Shell Gas card.
Remember the initial cash offer from GameStop? It was $72.40. Now we’re talking Benjamin Franklin.
3 Tips to Get the Highest Quote for Your GameStop Trade-In
By now, you know the value of opting for the in-store credit. If you get the balance loaded onto a Shell gas card, you can exchange it using GiftCard, and earn 38% more cash.
But there are a few other ways to make sure you’re getting the best quote upfront. These tips could increase your trade-in value even more.
1. Enroll in the 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 trade-in 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.
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
A digital subscription to GameInformer 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 in a single trade.
2. Keep 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 in anything that’s broken. GameStop tests them.
3. Trade 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 deals 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 trade-in 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.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here’s what else you should know about GameStop’s trade-in program.
Is GameStop Trade In Still Available?
Yes, GameStop still accepts trade-ins. The company paused in-person trade in services temporarily earlier in the pandemic, but the pause has been lifted. (This should not be confused with the pauses in GameStop stock trading.)
How Does the GameStop Trade-In Policy Work?
Purging your old game library 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 for your items and their condition.
You can sell more than video games, too. In recent years, they’ve expanded their store to include other consumer electronics outside of video games. You can now trade in all kinds of different consumer electronics.
What Do I Need to Do to Trade In My Stuff at GameStop?
You’ll need to gather all the electronics you want to trade in and take it to your nearest GameStop. To get your payout, you’ll need to show a valid ID and fill out a simple application, similar to the ones at pawn shops. A fingerprint is required.
Your items may be subject to manager approval, and they might test your electronics on-the-spot to make sure they function properly.
Once everything is good to go, you then select your payment method. (To get the best deal, we recommend choosing to receive payment via gift card, and then swapping that gift card for more cash.)
Can You Trade In 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. The tips above will maximize your GameStop trade-in value and help you get extra cash.
What Type of Consumer Electronics Can I Trade In at GameStop?
You can trade in many different types of consumer electronics at GameStop. Recently released video games and consoles, especially Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo, are a given. GameStop also accepts smartphones, tablets, computer mice, controllers, select streaming devices and other accessories.
In vogue retro games and consoles are also accepted. Yes, GameCube is considered retro now.
Is the GameStop Trade-In Program In-Person Only?
To complete your GameStop trade in, you must go in-person. You can’t secure your payment online or ship the items you want to trade. That said, you can get a quote online, meaning you won’t have to trek all the way to a store to find out your trade-in value isn’t what you expected.
To use GameStop’s quote tool, you simply type in the name of your item, select the model, and it will generate its trade-in value based on cash and store credit. The quote is good for one business day. And to get the full value, your item(s) must be in full working condition and must include all necessary components to function.
Do I Have to Be a Pro Member to Trade In My Things?
No, you don’t need to be a paying PowerUp Rewards member to make trade-ins. However, Pro members do receive an additional 10% to their quotes, among several other perks. We recommend frequent traders to take advantage of the membership.
Adam Hardy is a reporter and editor based in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was formerly a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Follow him on Twitter @hardyjournalism.