Wal-Mart launches smartphone trade-in deals

It's now offering $50 to $300 in exchange for an old, working device, just in time for Apple's new iPhone launch.

By Jonathan Berr Sep 10, 2013 11:55AM
While the world is transfixed by the unveiling of two new Apple (AAPL) iPhones, Wal-Mart (WMT) reminded the public that it's a player in the smartphone market as well.

Starting Sept. 21, consumers at more than 3,600 U.S. Wal-Mart stores and Sam's Clubs can exchange their old devices for credits ranging from $50 to $300 that can be used to purchase more than 100 different smartphones. Of course, the trade-in can't be damaged and must be in working order.
Boosting its foothold in wireless makes sense given Wall Street's pressure on Wal-Mart to improve its lackluster financial performance after its latest disappointing quarterly earnings. CNBC, which broke the trade-ins story, noted that wireless has been a bright spot for the Bentonville, Ark., company. According to NPD data CNBC cited, the discount chain gained more than 350 basis points in unit share in the latest quarter and was the No. 1 wireless retailer on that basis.

Various smartphone devices at a Wal-Mart in American Canyon, Calif. on Feb. 16, 2012 (© David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)Last week, Wal-Mart slashed the price of the iPhone 5 to $98 from $129 (with a two-year-contract with a wireless carrier), which it says is the lowest price for what was until today Apple's top-of-the-line smartphone. Wal-Mart also markets Straight Talk, a prepaid wireless service that provides talk, text and data for $45 a month.

"More and more, customers are choosing where they purchase new smartphones based on where they'll get the best value for their trade-ins," said Steve Bratspies, executive vice president of general merchandise for Wal-Mart U.S., in a press release.

The smartphones that are traded in at Wal-Mart will be shipped to partner CExchange, which will either recycle or refurbish them. CExchange has vowed that the devices it receives from Wal-Mart and Sam's Club will never be sent to landfills either domestically or internationally.

Wal-Mart isn't the only company that stands to benefit from the new iPhones. Over the past month, the number of eBay (EBAY) listings for the iPhone 5 has surged 44%, eBay vice president for North American marketplaces Jeff Somers told CNBC.

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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