Turn unwanted items into cash and buy used.
When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you are likely feeling burned out and stressed out. And when budgets grow tight, there may seem like there’s no financial relief in sight. Even with the best budgeting intentions, cutting back on daily or monthly expenses may not be enough to ease these financial burdens. In these situations, an extra boost may be the only way to get ahead.
Although taking on a second job or side hustle may seem like the only way to make some extra money, don’t overlook the opportunity to turn unwanted items into cash. Whether it’s an old gadget, unworn clothing or a closet full of toys collecting dust, spending time selling the items you no longer need or use can help you earn that much-needed money. To get you started, here are 16 free apps and sites that make selling and buying items in person or online a cinch.
Best for: unwanted gift cards.
Each year, up to $3 billion worth of gift cards go unused, according to the Mercator Advisory Group, which provides data on the payments industry. Although gift cards are a popular gift, sometimes gift givers don’t get it right, and you may have received one to a store you never shop at or a restaurant you don’t like. The good news is you can turn those gift cards into cash through sites like CardCash.com, which will pay you up to 92% of the card value via check, PayPal, automatic clearinghouse payments or trade it in for another store or restaurant gift card for up to 7% more. The amount you make depends on the popularity of the gift card, but it’s a great option to anyone who is stuck with gift cards they can’t or won’t use. As far as buyer protection goes, CardCash offers a 45-day guarantee on all gift cards sold through its site from the date of purchase, so just make sure to use it before that period expires.
Best for: high-end home furnishings.
Chairish is an online marketplace for home decorating and design, where you can sell vintage decor, furniture, home accessories and art. As a consignor, you can have up to nine active listings as part of the free membership, but Chairish takes a cut of each sale, charging a 30% flat rate commission. One of the best perks of selling through Chairish is that it will organize shipping details for you, which can be a complicated process when dealing with large and heavy or fragile pieces. Otherwise, coordinating a local pickup is easy to set up through the app. Once your sale goes through, payments are issued via PayPal following delivery within the company’s 48-hour return period. You can confirm that payment is being processed when an item is flagged as delivered in the sold items tab of the Chairish dashboard. The site’s new Hit List curates the most loved listings in one place, encouraging faster sales.
Best for: unused tech.
According to a recent survey from Decluttr, Americans have nearly $200 worth of unused tech items at home. When it comes to selling those unwanted personal gadgets, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of waiting for an auction to close. Instead, sites like Decluttr offer an instant payment. Begin by inputting the item’s bar code — or use the in-app bar code scanner — to get an instant price estimate, guaranteed for 28 days. Once you accept the bid, you’ll receive a “welcome pack” via email containing a free shipping label that you simply tape to your box containing your gadget. Upon receipt of your tech item, payment will be processed via direct deposit or PayPal, making it a simple and fast transaction. Sign up for Declutter’s newsletter to earn an additional 10% on top of its value estimate when you make your first trade-in.
“Decluttr is also a good place to purchase refurbished tech items,” says Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert at truetrae.com, a personal finance and money-saving blog. “You can save an average of $100 on an iPad and $490 on an iPhone X.” She also says you should look out for periodic sales, during which you can often save $50 on a special promotion.
Best for: auction-style sales.
Well-known for its auction-style sales, eBay also offers other selling formats where you can sell everything from clothing to electronics to baby gear to cars. If you decide to sell through an auction, simply choose a starting price and watch as interested buyers place bids. The buyer with the highest bid at the end of the auction window wins the sale. Auctions can run for either one, three, five, seven or 10 days. You can even select to relist unsold items automatically.
The other option for selling is to use eBay’s fixed-price format, “Buy It Now,” which lets buyers make a purchase instantly. If you’re worried your price is too high, opt to let buyers make you an offer to make room for negotiating. Most listing are free, but sales will incur a final value fee that is calculated at a percent of the final selling price and varies depending on the item. For instance, the final value fee for clothing, shoes and accessories that sell for under $100 is calculated at 10.2% of the item’s sale price, but it’s free for items that sell over $100.
Select your preferred delivery option, from local pickup to shipping within the U.S. or internationally. To make shipments easy and affordable, purchase and print your shipping labels through eBay and you will get a discount from the shipping carriers it works with.
Best for: college textbooks.
According to the College Board, the average cost of college textbooks was $1,240 to $1,440 for the 2018-2019 academic year. Although many students look to recoup some of these costs by selling textbooks back to their college bookstore, more money is available online. Sites like eCampus.com offer higher payouts for college textbooks. One choice is the buyback service, in which you get an instant quote based on the data provided and free shipping with payments made via PayPal, check, direct deposit or in-store credit. Otherwise, you can opt to use the marketplace platform to sell directly to students. For this option, the site collects a 15% commission for each sale but provides shipping credit as a benefit.
Best for: selling locally.
If you don’t want to deal with downloading yet another app or setting up another online account, Facebook Marketplace is the best option for selling and buying used items in your area since it’s already linked to your Facebook account. Marketplace is Facebook’s platform for buying, selling and discovering items. It makes selling items very easy — just upload a picture from your phone and review the interface’s suggested category and price range based on sales for similar items in your area. You can sell to buyers locally by coordinating in-person transactions or opt to ship to people who live beyond driving distance, depending on your preference. A bonus to using Facebook Marketplace is that you’ll feel more confident in who you are dealing with since you can view a potential buyer’s Facebook profile.
Best for: local sales, video-enabled listings.
This peer-to-peer marketplace app uses your phone’s GPS to reach buyers in your area. Shoppers can make you an offer or reach out about listing details through the in-app chat feature. For added safety, the site offers user ratings, phone verification and connects to Facebook so you know you’re dealing with real people and not scammers. When it’s time to make a deal, use the safe exchange area location tool to pinpoint nearby police stations for transactions. Otherwise, 5miles also offers an online payment and shipping option. Darcy Segura, a buyer and reseller of vintage furniture, home decor and more through The Eclectic Den, a virtual storefront on 5miles, appreciates the app’s video-enabled listing feature. “Video enables me to showcase furniture pieces in a way that photos just don’t do justice. It really helps make my listings come alive,” she says. The app also makes it easy to share your listings via Facebook, Twitter, text or email.
Best for: easy communication with buyers.
Whether you want to sell an old smartphone, unwanted toys or a used car, you can do it all through the Letgo app or on the website. Letgo allows consumers to buy and sell just about anything virtually, with categories ranging from electronics to sporting goods to cars. This free marketplace makes it a breeze to connect with buyers since all communication can be done through the app, such as discussing item specifications and negotiating prices. To optimize safety, Letgo verifies user profiles with ratings and reviews so you can see who you’re talking to and what others have said about them before you move forward with a transaction. Though purchases and sales are made in person, consider meeting in a public place during the day and bring a friend along to ensure safety. The app is free to use, so you keep 100% of your sale price.
Best for: negotiating and selling items quickly.
Similar to other secondhand marketplaces, OfferUp is free to use and lets you sell just about anything. You can choose to limit selling to just local buyers and meet in person or post on OfferUp’s nationwide sales page, for which you have to coordinate shipments. When listing your item, let buyers know whether your price is set as firm or if there’s room for negotiation, which means buyers can make offers so you have opportunities to haggle for a fair deal. On OfferUp, you can increase listing visibility and sell your item faster using its “promote” feature for an added fee. When you promote your item, it will appear among the top 50 items in search, browse and category results. This ensures buyers will see your promoted listing when they’re looking for similar items. Although you have to pay for this feature, it’s a worthwhile cost for anyone who wants to sell an item faster.
Best for: those who don’t like packing boxes.
On the Mercari app, you can sell just about anything — from sporting equipment to beauty goods to baby gear — without the worry of meeting with potential buyers in person. “I think of it like Craigslist, but no meetups,” says Susan Towers, founding partner at Forerunner PR. All sales are shipped to buyers so there is no face-to-face interaction required. Plus, Mercari takes the headache out of shipping sold goods by offering a pack-and-ship partnership with UPS. If you bring your sold item to a local UPS store, an associate will pack and ship it for you, so you don’t have to worry about finding the right-sized box and creating a shipping label. Listings are free, but Mercari charges fees once a transaction is complete, including a selling fee of 10% of the sales price and an additional payment processing fee of 2.9% plus 30 cents based on the sales price. You can even earn a $5 reward during special promotions for your first listing.
Best for: peer-to-peer clothing resale.
When it comes to fashion, Poshmark is the perfect place to sell your gently used name-brand clothing, shoes and accessories. To list your items, create a profile and add a few photos of each item you want to sell along with a description and price. You can motivate shoppers to buy more from you by offering a discount on multiple purchases. Listings are free, but you have to pay a fee when a sale is made. Poshmark takes a flat fee of $2.95 for orders under $15 and increases this commission to 20% for sales over that price point. Buyers of high-end luxury goods get extra confidence, thanks to free authentication — luxury items are shipped directly to Poshmark’s headquarters for inspection first.
Earnings are deposited into your account, and you can withdraw money any time directly from the app via a direct deposit or by requesting a check. Shipping is also easy, as Poshmark provides you with a prepaid, pre-addressed label ready to be put on the box and drop it off at a nearby USPS mailbox or schedule an at-home pickup.
Becky Beach, the blogger behind the finance and lifestyle site MomBeach.com, says she uses the app often and suggests taking high-quality pictures of each item to attract more buyers. Place the item against a white poster board to make it pop, she says.
Best for: a hands-off approach to selling designer items.
Selling luxury goods through consignment is much more seamless, thanks to sites like The RealReal that specialize in reselling high-end designer brands including everything from women’s, men’s and kids’ fashion to fine jewelry, watches, home decor and even art. As with most consigners, The RealReal takes a cut of each sale; you earn up to 85% of whatever you sell and an additional 5% if you apply earnings toward account credit to use toward shopping. One of the perks of selling through The RealReal is that you get a hands-off approach since the site tackles all the tedious work of posting pictures, setting prices, monitoring sales and shipping goods to buyers. Plus, every item is authenticated, which creates buying confidence and increases potential sales. You can even sell items without leaving your home — one of the site’s luxury managers will to come to you to help decide what to sell and transport the items to sell on the site. Michelle Madhok, online shopping expert and founder of SheFinds.com, says it’s important to adhere to the list of brands the RealReal accepts and ensure everything is clean, inside and out.
Best for: wedding dresses.
Considering that brides spend an average of $1,600 for a wedding dress that they only wear one time, according to The Knot, selling online can help recoup some of the original cost. StillWhite.com offers a helpful marketplace for selling and buying pre-owned wedding dresses. Best of all, it doesn’t charge commission fees. All you pay is a one-time listing fee, which means you keep more of the sale. Choose between the standard listing option for $20, which includes live analytics and four photos, or upgrade to premium for just $10 more to get ad space on the homepage along with up to eight photos and a video of your dress. You may be able to snag a coupon for savings on listing fees, so always check before paying. Plus, if you refer a family or friend to the site, you’ll earn $5 each time they buy a dress or list one for sale. This person will even get 10% off their listing fee.
Best for: verified tech listings.
Mobile users are constantly upgrading their devices, but few are spending time to sell their older models. That’s where Swappa comes in — this user-to-user marketplace was established specifically for people looking to buy and sell unwanted gadgets. You can sell almost any consumer electronic, from smartphones to laptops to video games and more. Most notably, every approved listing on Swappa is reviewed and verified by its support team to make sure it meets company standards and is fully functional. This includes verifying that phones are ready to be activated on the designated wireless carrier at the time of sale. To do this, photos are used to verify that the device matches the description, and serial numbers are reviewed to ensure it hasn’t been reported lost, stolen or blacklisted. When it comes time to arranging your sale, you can choose to either ship items or make a sale in person through the Swappa Local marketplace.
Best for: consigning women’s and kids’ clothing.
This online clothing consigner makes it easy to make money on unwanted women’s and kids’ clothing since it does all the work of taking photos, listing items and managing sales. To start, request a “clean out kit” that includes a prepaid shipping bag you fill up with as many articles of clothing and accessories and send back to ThredUp. Some items are purchased outright by the site, while others are sold on consignment, meaning you only earn money if the item sells. Just like other consignment stores, ThredUp takes a cut of the profits and provides you with a payout for each item that sells, which varies per item and brand. Earnings are deposited into your ThredUp account, which you can either use as credit toward other used clothing or opt to cash out via Paypal or a prepaid debit card. For items that don’t sell, you can choose to have them be sent back or donated.
Best for: easy shipping.
This fashion resale site is focused on designer brands from Alexander McQueen to Zara and is a great place to offload everything from handbags to accessories to clothing and shoes. Unlike The RealReal, sellers manage their own listings, but that doesn’t mean selling is complicated. In fact, Tradesy makes shipping sold items easy by providing a free shipping kit, which includes a prepaid shipping label along with beautiful packaging. It deducts a flat commission fee of $7.50 for sold items under $50 and charges a commission of 19.8% for sales over this amount.
The best apps to buy and sell used stuff:
— Facebook Marketplace.
— The RealReal.
More from U.S. News
Update 06/30/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.