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updated 2/12/2013 10:20:41 AM ET 2013-02-12T15:20:41

Extra cash could be as close as your junk drawer. Americans are sitting on as much as $33.8 billion worth of old cellphones. That's the finding in a survey released today (Feb. 12) by SellCell.com, a company that finds the best value for used phones. Most households could collect close to $200 if they made the effort to turn their old phones in for cash, the company reported.

According to SellCell's trade-in data, the average payout for an old cellphone is $91 and most households have two phones collecting dust. (SellCell is a site that shows cellphone trade-in amounts from a number of resellers and lets the user choose the best one.)

More than half of all consumers (54.9 percent) stash their old phones at home in a box. Only 20 percent sell or recycle their phones for  cash . So what's holding them back?

About one in five said they're worried about exposing data that's stored in their phones and an equal number said they're simply too lazy to cash their phones in. Men are twice as likely as women to say they are too lazy.

Reputable phone dealers wipe data from received phones in the refurbishing and  recycling  process. For added peace of mind, phone owners can take simple precautions before turning phones in:

  1. Remove your phone's SIM card, if it has one.
  2. Delete your address book, photos, messages and other stored information.
  3. Restore the device to its factory settings. iPhone users can go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. For Android phones, choose Settings > Back up and reset > Factory settings.

Laziness isn't as easy to overcome. But unlike other tasks that people frequently put off, such as  filing tax returns, turning in phones nearly guarantees you'll get money back. An 8GB iPhone 3G (SellCell's top recycled phone) will put around $47 in your pocket. And if you've got a newer smartphone, you could receive two or three times as much cash back. For instance, an iPhone 4 gets up to $175 and the iPhone 4S is worth $283.

Parent's tip: Ask your teen to handle the trade-ins and offer to split the proceeds.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily

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