What To Look For When Buying A Used Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is currently one of the most popular consoles on the market. Despite the fact that it was first launched in 2017, it continues to sell well, and the games that are released for it are often bestsellers. Because of that, the Switch itself as well as its games are still pretty expensive. If you want to save some money, buying a used Nintendo Switch might be an option, but you need to be careful before you go through with the transaction.

The Switch launched on March 3, 2017, with a launch price of $299.99. The OLED model followed later, priced at $349.99 from the get-go. Various shortages made the Switch difficult to come by in the height of the pandemic, but the console is usually in stock these days — at the exact same price as years ago. You can find the base model for $299.99 and the OLED version for $347, so not much has changed since the release date.

This may drive some people to buy a used console instead. Shopping on sites like eBay or Craigslist can net you some decent deals, but buying a console that has been used comes with some risks involved. Here's what you need to always watch out for.

General tips for safely buying a used Switch

One word of warning (that doesn't concern the console itself as much as the entire process of shopping) is that it's much better if you buy your console in person. Of course, if you're buying from the previous owner, make sure to meet at a public place and do not pay them before receiving and inspecting the product.

Buying the console in a face-to-face trade gives you an edge — you can make sure that it has no visible faults and that it runs well. This is harder to do online, but still achievable. If you found an online listing that includes shipping, ask the seller for very clear photos and maybe even videos of the console before you commit to a purchase. It's also advisable to use trusted platforms, such as eBay, instead of sending money to someone without any buyer's protection policies in place. Ideally, the platform you shop on should support you in the event that you have to return the console because it wasn't exactly as advertised.

Another tip is that you should try to get the original receipt from the seller, if applicable. This will be needed if you need to use the warranty, assuming it is covered by one. Of course, this doesn't apply to older consoles, but if the seller bought it relatively recently, it's a good idea.

Inspect the Joy-Cons

The Joy-Cons are the detachable controllers that let you play on your Switch, both from a distance and in handheld mode. They can also be connected to a so-called Comfort Grip to resemble something close to an Xbox controller. They're pretty great — they sense motion, vibrate, and of course, control your games. Unfortunately, they're probably the part of the console that's the most susceptible to wear and tear.

If you want to buy a used Nintendo Switch, make sure to inspect the Joy-Cons thoroughly before you make the purchase.

  1. Push at the Joy-Cons from underneath the console. If they easily slide off, the plastic that holds them has been damaged. 
  2. Check every button to make sure it doesn't feel loose or unresponsive.
  3. Test the Joy-Cons with the console turned on. If any of them drift — meaning that they constantly input movements without you doing anything — they need to be replaced.
  4. Detach the Joy-Cons and then put them back on. Make sure they slide in seamlessly. You should be able to hear a click when the Joy-Con is fully attached — if this doesn't happen, something might be wrong.

Joy-Cons can be easily replaced, but that's an added cost. Depending on the price of the used Switch you're considering, you might be better off just buying a new console instead.

Thoroughly examine the console

While the Joy-Cons can be replaced, the console itself needs to be in top condition in order to be worth buying used. Any serious repairs to a Nintendo Switch will cost you a pretty penny, and even if you have a warranty from the seller, it's only an added nuisance. This is why, if you're buying a used Switch, inspecting the console itself is crucial.

  1. Thoroughly inspect the screen. Of course, any cracks are an instant "no," but don't forget that the Switch has a touch screen — make sure that it works and is responsive all over the surface.
  2. Look all around the casing, especially near the shoulder buttons and the power button. If there are any cracks, signs of chipped plastic, or if the opening is wider, it's best to be careful.
  3. Power on the console and go into the settings. Test screen calibration and check if all the brightness settings work as intended.
  4. Run a game (if there are any).
  5. Try to connect to the internet via Wi-Fi, if possible.
  6. Test the volume all the way to the highest setting to make sure that the speakers are in good condition.

Aside from the console, remember that it will most likely come with accessories. This includes the dock, an HDMI cable, and an AC adapter (except for the Switch Lite model). If any of these are missing, you will be forced to buy them separately, so haggle for a lower price. If the dock is present, inspect it to make sure it seems to be in good condition.

Is it worth buying a used Nintendo Switch?

Buying a used Nintendo Switch can save you some money, but it might also not be worth it in the long run. There are some perks of buying a used Switch — for example, sometimes the seller will add some games to sweeten the deal. However, depending on the price and the condition of the console, you might be better off just saving for a little while longer to buy a new Switch.

In general, Nintendo consoles are usually fairly durable, but depending on the age of the device, you may get one that doesn't have a warranty anymore. In those cases, it's definitely more worth it to save up a little extra and buy a new console. You'll be sure that it will work properly, you'll have a proper warranty, and if you're buying from a store, the retailer is likely to assist you if anything is amiss.

If you're able to find a really good deal, though, it might be worth the gamble. If it's a matter of saving $100 or more and the console is in good shape, you'll get a little extra money to spend on games. Buying used Nintendo Switch games can also be a good way to save some cash, so keep an eye out for good deals on physical games for sale.