It doesn’t seem like long ago that spending thousands of dollars on a DVDs and CD collection made a lot of sense. 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, 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. In fact, just a couple of months ago I sent two boxes of DVDs in to Amazon and got about $200 in gift card credits applied to my account.
The process couldn’t be simpler. Head to the Amazon Trade In webpage and create a list of the movies you want to send in. The search function could be better and every movie is not eligible, but when you find a match just click a button to add to your list. When you’re done, put everything in a box, print out the free shipping label, and drop the box at any UPS store. For each of my movies, I earned 7 cents to more than $20 depending on the movie and the condition.
If you have a lot of CDs and movies that are worth more, you can also sell them individually in an Amazon store, but you’re responsible for shipping, and Amazon does take a cut.
The most popular online destination for collectibles is eBay. With our old collections of movies and music becoming collector’s items, it is another good option to unload your disks.
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 outside of online selling options, this is your best option to get cash for your collection.
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 like DVDs4Vets or DiscsForDogs 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 “okay 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. 2017 just might be the year to trade in your old collections and upgrade to the world of streaming for good.