Before high-speed internet and digital music and movies, it wasn’t rare for people to spend thousands of dollars on a DVD and CD collection. But with today’s options for online streaming and on-demand content, the need for physical media has gone by the wayside as easier and cheaper versions of watching your favorite movies and shows emerge. In the age of Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, here are some options to cash in on your old, dusty collections of movies and music.
I do the bulk of my shopping at Amazon, so for me, an Amazon gift card is as good as cash. While you may not get the best value from the program, Amazon Trade-In is the easiest method I have come across to sell off my DVD collection. I once sent two boxes of DVDs to Amazon and got about $200 in gift card credits applied to my account.
The process is simple. Head to the Amazon Trade-In webpage and create a list of the movies you want to send in. The search function isn’t great, and many items are not eligible. Compile a list for your trade-in on Amazon, put everything in a box, print out a free shipping label, and drop the package at any UPS store. For each of my movies, I earned between 7 cents to more than $20, depending on the item and condition.
If you have many valuable CDs and movies, you can also sell them individually in an Amazon store, but you’re responsible for shipping, and Amazon takes a cut.
Decluttr is a service made solely for trading in your old stuff. On the media side, Declutter accepts CDs, DVDs, games, and books. It also takes used phones, tablets, laptops, gaming consoles, e-readers, smartwatches and other devices.
You can download the Decluttr app to build a sell list using your phone’s camera as a barcode scanner. You box up your items and Decluttr covers shipping costs. Once received, you’ll get paid the next day.
Payments are made by direct deposit to your bank account, PayPal or a paper check in the mail. However you choose to get paid, you have more money and less stuff at the end of the process.
The most popular online destination for collectibles is eBay. With our old movie and music collections becoming collector’s items, eBay is another good option to unload your discs.
Unlike Amazon, where you can send in everything at once, eBay is a one-item-at-a-time proposition. Further, eBay requires you to add each item individually, which can be a very time-consuming task. But on the other side, when an item sells, you get cash in your pocket. After eBay and shipping costs, it might not be a lot, but it’s better than nothing. It’s also probably more than you would get from an Amazon trade-in.
A local record store
Video may have killed the radio star, but record stores are still alive and well in big cities across the country. While it may not be Rex Manning Day when you drop in, you can still find the Empire Records experience, along with an ability to sell your used movies and CDs, at a used record store.
Your results may vary in terms of what they are willing to pay and which movies and records they might want to take off your hands, but this is your best option to get cash for your collection outside of online selling options.
Donate for a tax write-off
If this all sounds like way too much work and you’d rather just dump off your old movies and albums for donation, you can still earn a bit back when you file your taxes.
If you file your taxes using the itemized deduction method, you can donate your collection to an organization and get a break on your taxes. The nonprofit can resell the disks to help fund its mission, and your adjusted gross income goes down by the value of the disks. For most Americans, you can save 25% or 28% of the donated value.
Build your own Netflix
Putting the legal and ethical issues aside for another discussion, you may be wondering if you can make a digital copy of your movies and music before donating. The legal answer is no, but the practical answer is yes.
Using the free program HandBrake, you can make a digital copy of your DVDs and save them to your computer, an external hard drive, or the cloud. Then, using the freemium (free version, pay for more features) app Plex, you can turn your computer and phone into your own cloud video service that works like Netflix.
I have Plex installed on a media center PC I built and the Android app on my phone. With a few taps on my screen and my Chromecast, I can watch any movie or TV show in my collection on any TV in my home. Even when I’m away from home, I have access to watch on my laptop, smartphone or any device connected to the web.
The death of the DVD
If I want to hear a song, I just say “OK, Google” and it starts. If I want to watch a movie, I open an app on my phone and press play. Most of my friends don’t even have a DVD player anymore at all.
Deciding to sell my expensive, somewhat sentimental DVD collection was not an easy decision, but I have less clutter, more money, and can still watch any movie or show I want at any time. In fact, it’s even easier because I don’t have to put a disk in the player!
For better or worse, disks are out and streaming is in. The longer you wait, the less valuable they become. 2021 just might be the year to trade in your old collections and upgrade to the world of streaming for good.