With hot new phones and tablets hitting the market at a breakneck pace, frequent upgrading can become a cost-prohibitive endeavor. Today, Walmart is taking some of the sting out of that process by adding tablet computers to its in-store trade-in program.

Walmart recently began accepting smartphones for trade-ins, so this news makes for a natural extension of the earlier program at the world’s largest retailer. It was launched reportedly in response to consumer requests after the smartphone trade-in program experienced considerable success. At present, tablet trade-ins will be accepted at more than 3,600 Walmart and Sam’s Club locations around the United States.

As with a phone, the value of a used tablet depends heavily on its condition. Devices which power on and which are completely intact, with no cracks, missing parts, non-functional keys, and no liquid damage, are considered by Walmart to be in “working” condition. If any of the above conditions is true – or the unit can’t be operated due to a lost security code – it is considered “not working” by the company.

That classification can make the difference between a sizeable trade-in value and relatively nothing. For example, consider a 32GB Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1” powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor: in “working” condition this device will net you $80 as a Walmart trade-in. In “not working” condition, the same tablet will get you a mere 10 bucks. You can check the value of any tablet you’d like to trade in online at Walmart’s trade-in website.

Walmart says that its top trade-in price is about $300. Of course, all trade-in values are applied toward the purchase of a new tablet from the retailer.

Remember, Walmart isn’t the only game in town when it comes to trading in your tablet. Amazon, GameStop, Best Buy, and T-Mobile all currently accept tablets for trade-in. In the above example of a 32GB Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, Amazon’s maximum trade-in price of $130 is the current leader of the pack.

And while trade-ins may offer simplicity, don’t forget that they aren’t the only game in town. Ebay remains a thriving market for used phones and tablets, and if you’re willing to put a little extra effort into selling your old device, you can earn a little additional cash over a trade-in. Here, used Galaxy Tab 2 tablets typically sell for $350 to $400 on the site, but condition (and the luck of the auctioneer) are always a major factor in the hammer price.

[ This sponsored article was written by IDG Creative Lab, a partner of PCWorld. ]

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