Apple finally lets you trade-in old MacBooks — here’s how to do it

MacBook Air 2020 review
(Image credit: Future)

If your MacBook is starting to slow down and you’ve been hankering for an upgrade, then we have some good news: US Apple stores will now accept Mac machine trade-ins. 

While Apple has supported trade-ins for its iPhones and iPads, it’s now expanded the process to cover the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, 12-inch MacBook, iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Pro and Mac mini machines. All you need to do is bring in the Mac you want to trade-in to an Apple Store or send it off to Apple using a prepaid trade-in kit or shipping label. 

Once Apple has a Mac device in its hands, it will then assess how much credit it will give you towards a new Apple device. For the now-defunct 12-inch MacBook, there’s a maximum of $480 trade-in credit. But if you have a more expensive machine such as a MacBook Pro or iMac Pro, you could get up to $1,760 and $3,850 respectively. That credit will come in the form of a gift card or instant credit to spend in an Apple Store. 

If Apple decides that your trade-in device isn’t worth it, it will recycle it. Apple extolled how it will do this “for free,” which seems a bit of an odd thing to highlight as we’d be very surprised if people would actually pay Apple to get rid of their old devices. 

There are a few caveats in the small print that are worth noting. Firstly, the value will all be based on the condition, age, and configuration of your trade-in device. Secondly, the trade-in value will vary between online and in-store trade-in, though Apple didn’t make it clear by how much; we’d suspect you’ll get more for your trade if you do it in person.

Thirdly, you’ll need to a government-issued photo ID to carry out an in-store trade-in. And Apple noted that such information may need to be saved depending on the local law; interestingly no proof of purchase is needed, which could be a boon for tech thieves. 

Finally, you’ll be “solely responsible for removing all data,” which includes all confidential and personal data, from the device before shipping. Apple won’t accept any responsibility for lost data. However, it will guide you through how to backup and purge all your data from the device you want to trade-in. 

All in all, this looks like a decent way to get some money off your next Apple purchase, though you could argue that such a trade-in process for Mac machines was well overdue.  

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face. 

  • mrbofus
    "Apple will finally let you trade-in you old MacBook Pro and iMacs"

    What is up with the disingenuous headline and the delay in reporting? Wasn't this announced two or three days ago?

    Also, Apple has let you trade-in Macs for a long time, it was just limited to online/mail-in only. The news is that they are now taking Mac trade-ins at their retail locations now.
  • techlogik
    Yeah, so for fun put my serial number in on a Late 2016 top of the line Macbook Pro 13", it is new in the box/wrapper still. Apple says my Macbook is ready to be freely recycled, no value. Pfffft.