Walmart (NYSE:WMT) will launch a smartphone trade-in program on Sept. 21 that will offer shoppers a credit of up to $300 for a new phone, the retail giant said Tuesday (Sept. 10).
Under the program, Walmart customers will be able to get an immediate credit of between $50 and $300 in exchange for any of 100 eligible smartphones. The actual amount of the credit will depend on the old phone's model and condition. As examples, the chain said it would pay $300 for a working, undamaged Apple iPhone 5; $175 for a Samsung Galaxy SIII; or $52 for a Samsung Galaxy S2. The credit can be used toward buying a smartphone with a two-year contract from Verizon, AT&T or Sprint, as well as some phones with prepaid plans.
The deal is similar to one that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) began testing in some of its own stores in August and has since launched chainwide, mainly as a way of pulling in lucrative sales and activation business.
The difference: Walmart is also accepting trade-in phones from vendors other than Apple, and appears to be offering a nominally better trade-in deal. Apple was offering $250 for an undamaged iPhone 5, while Walmart's book value for the same phone is $300. Some online sites say they will pay up to $350 for like-new iPhones. (However, there's no guarantee that either chain would actually hit those numbers with actual trade-in phones.)
Walmart didn't specify what would happen to the trade-in phones, but a statement said the company would be "keeping thousands of smartphones from going to landfills each year." That suggests that, like Apple and other chains that accept phones for recycling, they will be refurbished and resold in other parts of the world.
The trade-in program will be available at 3,600 U.S. Walmarts and Sam's Clubs, or about 80 percent of the chain's U.S. stores.
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