Staples joined several other retailers by today announcing a technology trade-in program, which will allow customers to bring in gadgets like smartphones and tablets and exchange them for eCash cards. These eCash cards are basically Staples store credit and can be used inside any Staples retail location or on Staples.com.

I tested the trade-in site by offering to trade in both a 16 GB iPhone 5S and a 16 GB iPad 4 with Wi-Fi. Staples offered me $352 for a top-condition iPhone 5S and $232 for the iPad.

staplesI then tried Best Buy’s trade-in site to compare, using the same gadgets as above. Best Buy offered me $304.50 for a “perfect” iPhone 5S and $220 for a “good” iPad 4 (which is the highest rating available for that, apparently).

It looks like the Staples trade-in program is offering better deals for your used gadgets, at least as far as iPhones and iPads go. But keep in mind, you’re trading your goods for store credit, and you’re also surrendering some value by exchanging it at a retailer. You’ll always be able to get more for your used gadgets by selling them directly to another individual, whether through an auction site like eBay or a classified site like craigslist

Oh, and if your tablet or smartphone happens to be pretty much worthless to both Staples and the used marketplace, Staples will still take it from you and recycle it at no charge. So even if you can’t line your pockets with eCash credit with your trade-in, you can do right by the environment.

The Staples trade-in program is live as of today. You can check it out here.

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