Trading in: Avoid being a mug in a mug’s game

You can find an updated version of this guide here.

Trading games in is damn convenient, but it is an easy way of haemorrhaging money without even realising exactly how much you are spending. There is a technique that you can use to massively improve the return you get on trade ins, that makes it almost good value.

Gamestation have a policy for trading in games, called “We won’t be beaten on trade-ins”, just check the back of any receipt. They are pretty good at plastering this policy over their shops and printed materials, but not so good at explaining what it means.

I spoke to my local Gamestation’s manager to find out exactly how it works. He said that if any store within 40 miles from the Gamestation in question will offer a better or equal price for a trade in, they will match it, and then beat it by one pound.

GAME offers me £5 for “Manshooter 7: The bulleting”, but Gamestation only offer me £4, I can tell them that GAME offered £5, and then Gamestation will offer me £6.

HMV offer me £8 for “Car wot goes fast 2: Off-Road”, and Gamestation offer me the same £8. I can then tell them that HMV offered me £8, and then Gamestation will offer me £9.

However (and this is just for my local store mind) there are a few conditions:

  • You must bring some form of written/printed out evidence of what the other shop offered.
  • The condition must be acceptable.
  • And importantly, it is entirely at the managers discretion. If they decide they don’t want to honour this policy, they don’t have to.

Seems mostly fair. He said that generally they would only refuse to honour the policy if it was a game that they sold for less than the price they would have to beat, which seems like a good compromise. I imagine in those situations you could negotiate a compromise if you wanted to.

This policy would be a lot easier to use if Gamestation published their trade in prices online, or even told you them over the phone, but they make you take games in to find out how much you would get for them.

And here is how to exploit the system.

CEX are transparent with their prices. They publish them all online. They also have a bit of a different pricing structure to Gamestation, they give measurably better prices for trade ins, but in turn generally charge more for games.

Using Gamestation’s policy on beating trade in prices, you can go online on CEX, find out exactly what they would offer you for trade in (look at the exchange price, not cash), which will pretty much universally be better than what Gamestation offer you, then add £1 for each game.

Head to the selling section of CEX’s site, add all of the games you want to trade in to your basket, and then print out the basket (and make sure to include the date). Then take the printout and games to Gamestation, and you should be able to get the prices CEX quoted + £1 each.


  • Be friendly to the Gamestation staff, since this policy is at the managers discretion, the more they like you, the more likely you are to pull it off. Chat about games with them, and be patient (trading in lots of games can take a while).
  • Don’t go in with a big stack of games near closing time. Ideally if you are doing a lot of trade ins, go when they are least busy
  • Typically the best games to do this on are the games that don’t have a huge amount of resell value (on eBay or wherever), but are still worth around £5 on CEX. I traded in 7 games that Gamestation wanted to give me £28 for, but I got £65 by doing this.
  • Remember you don’t have to spend it there and then. It might be nice to go crazy and just buy a full price game just because you have credit, but if there is nothing you really want there and then, don’t fell like you have to spend it straight away. They can just put the credit on a gift card for you.

Let me know if you have any problems with this policy.

16 Comments Leave yours

  1. “He said that generally they would only refuse to honour the policy if it was a game that they sold for less than the price they would have to beat, which seems like a good compromise. I imagine in those situations you could negotiate a compromise if you wanted to.”
    Surely the best thing to do in this situation is to take them back to the store that originally made that offer?

    • Lewie Procter #

      Depends, if what you wanted to but was a lot cheaper in Gamestation (more than likely in the case of CEX), and it’s only a matter of a quid or two, then maybe not.

      Also, for me, the Gamestation is 10 miles from CEX.

      The thing is, store credit in all stores is not equal.

  2. Zilla360 #

    The only bad thing about CEX is the queues, that and the fact they’re almost always out of cash.

  3. WimpoD #

    Man, this website really is the bee’s knees. Thanks for the info.

  4. Dude, why would you want to trade in “Manshooter 7: The bulleting”? That game is awesome!!!

  5. SteVader #

    Nice tips there Lewie, well done and thanks.

  6. George #

    I’m kinda confused – the manager said “only within 40 miles”, but a website fulfils that requirement? Their loss, I guess.

    • Lewie Procter #

      CEX have branches too, and the prices they offer in store are the same as the ones they list on their site.

      You’d struggle to find anywhere in the UK that isn’t 40 miles from a CEX too.

  7. Chase #

    The Gamestation I work in doesn’t have a CEX within our range, which is the town the store is based in. I’m actually surprised that other’s have a 40mile range, that seems a little large. We also wouldn’t take a printout from a website, so do be warned everyone that it’ll not work in every one.

    • Lewie Procter #

      Yeah, the 40 miles did seem pretty big. Luckily for me there is one just over 10 miles away anyway even if they did change the range.

      Huh, that’s odd, mine said that a printout was mandatory for their records. How would you guys do it? Phone the store in question?

      • Chase #

        We take reciepts from the store in question (just ask for a list of the values for each game so you can have a think) and yes, if we’re not busy, we’ll ring up, because we care more about customer loyalty than making a profit on that particular day 🙂

  8. KKSlider1337 #

    I’ve done this so many times. The Gamestation I frequent is blatantly starting to get fed up of me doing this. One of the latest deals I got was on an old 30gb 5th gen ipod; they would have given me around £40 but using this I got £68 for it. It was in pretty rubbish condition too. A couple of days later I saw it in the shop window for just £69.99 :|. Along with this ipod and some old games using this method, I got enough credit eventually to buy a new 80gb fat PS3 and unchartered 2, for £210. The manager seems to be getting so fed up of me I’m getting a tad scared to go in anymore though, so lately I’ve actually been trading in to CEX themselves because their games prices have been decent for some titles recently, like £12 each for R&C crack in time, the playstation eye, infamous and COD: world at war (beware some of these prices may have gone up since, I believe the former 2 are still this price though.) Gotta love being able to check their prices online beforehand too.

    • Lewie Procter #

      Yeah, I try extra hard to be friendly to my local one, because I am pretty sure that they know that they make very little money from me.

  9. Abe #

    You know what’s even better? Actually selling the games online yourself. You’re right, it really is a mug’s game, and you don’t have to play it.

    Just check out the prices on eBay/whatever first to see if it’s worth it. Or better yet, try and sell it to a friend of a friend, there’ll always be someone who wants a certain game.

    • Lewie Procter #

      It is true you can often get more doing this, but it’s not always true, and the convenience of trading in it definitely worth something.

  10. Jamie Sawyer #

    Just a silly thing, was looking around for info on the Gamestation Offer+£1 deal, and gave the store a quick ring. Turns out that although they do this, it does *not* count in conjunction with any “trade in 2 games and get £5 off a new game offer.”

    Still, I managed to pick up 2 copies of FIFA 09 for 99p each to lop £5 off Cataclysm tonight, alongside the £1.25 in Gamestation Elite Card points for my first trade-in. Reminds me of getting an HDMI cable for half price by picking up a 1p copy of WoW from Game 🙂

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