4. If you have Gamefly, use the rewards before they expire.
All Gamefly customers get a $5 coupon to spend on used games every three months, and old coupons expire when the new ones arrive. Combined with piece of advice No. 1, this program has gotten me some great used games at obscenely low prices. I snagged Bayonetta and Splinter Cell: Conviction for less than $10 apiece, and if I follow piece of advice No. 6 below, I'll probably get more than half of that back when I trade them in at GameStop.
5. Do the math before paying to join a used-game loyalty program.
Actually, scratch that. Assuming you're considering GameStop's $15 PowerUp Rewards Pro card (as I'm not aware of another used-game loyalty program that very many people use), let me do the math for you.
The card gives you a ten-percent bonus when you trade games in, a ten-percent discount on used games and accessories, and a subscription to Game Informer. Since you get all your news and reviews from Cheat Code Central, you don't need Game Informer, making its value $0. Therefore, to get your $15 worth, you have to (A) spend $150 on used games without trading any in, (B) sell $150 worth of games without buying anything used; (C) sell more than $67.50 worth of games and spend all the proceeds on used games, or (D) some combination in between these.
I recommend that you go with (C). Doubling up your rewards is the easiest way to make them add up (I have no problem each year). Also, let your card expire and start it up again later if you don't have much to buy or trade when the time comes.
No, $67.50 should not be $75. If you don't believe me, do the damn math yourself.
6. Buy and sell used games only when you can get a special deal, and know how to get the most from those deals.
If you've paid any attention at all to GameStop over the years, you know that there's always another trade-in or Buy X Get Y offer around the corner. Never traffic in used games without one of these bonuses to back you up.
Also, know how to game the system. Here are three simple rules.
First, if a store offers a fixed dollar amount bonus for a certain number of games (say, trade in any three games and get an extra $10), trade in your cheapest games. This way, you can take full advantage of the offer without parting with anything valuable. Sometimes these deals have a value floor, but it's typically quite low (GameStop usually doesn't allow games worth less than $1.50 or so).
Second, if a store offers a percentage bonus on trades (say, trade three and get an extra twenty percent), trade in your most valuable games. An extra 20 percent doesn't help much if you're making $3 on a sale, but it's quite nice if you're parting with an expensive game.
Third, if there's a Buy X Get Y sale, make sure the games you buy are all about the same price. This way, you don't end up paying for two expensive games and getting a cheap one free.
Of course, if you follow these guidelines, there are tradeoffs involved: You'll have to wait to buy, send your games back in the mail when you're done, and/or carefully manage your trading. The upside, however, is that you can play lots of great games without spending too much money.
CCC Freelance Writer