More than 350 million magazines are published in the United States each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which requires tons of paper. And, unfortunately, it will take tons of paper to make money if your goal is to shepherd unused magazines from the garbage bin to the recycling center. With some time, effort and a sharp pair of scissors, however, you can use old magazines to make money in other ways.
Priced by the Ton
Recycling centers tend to pay by the ton for mixed paper -- the product category that magazines occupy -- and don't take a carton or two of old product. The price rises and falls based on demand, and averaged $48 per ton as of April 2015. That doesn't mean you'll get that much though -- as of August 2015, Larimer County, Colorado, pays $12.50 per ton for mixed paper and requires a minimum of 400 pounds. That works out to 0.0063 cents per pound.
You'll get better prices by locating online clearinghouses that allow recycling centers to advertise how much they need and what they are willing to pay. Because local supply and demand vary, prices for recycled magazines vary.
Unless a center is located near you, the cost of transporting the magazines will exceed the amount you'll receive.
Reselling the Magazines
One of the best ways to make money with old magazines is to resell them. If the magazine is in good condition, a used book store may be willing to purchase it for resale. However, you'll likely make more money selling online, either as individual magazines or in lots. Lots can include different issues of the same magazine, or issues of different magazines that have a similar theme or topic. Do some research on online auction sites like eBay to see what magazines are selling for. That helps you price your wares competitively.
You may have a lot of old National Geographic magazines lying around, but don't expect to receive much for them. Because so many subscribers save each issue, there are a lot of old copies on the market, which means they are a difficult sell.
Clipping the Advertisements
You can earn cash from old magazines by carefully removing the advertisements, placing them into plastic sleeves or inexpensive frames, and selling them online, at yard sales or at flea markets. Michael Franco of Pick4Profit.com says that ads featuring old cars, trains, food and alcohol, guns, sports and mid-century modern furniture are particularly popular. A decades-old advertisement that features a star athlete's endorsement of a no-longer-made product, placed in an inexpensive frame, can be a popular item among sports fans and vintage ad collectors.