DJI, arguably the most popular producer of consumer drones has a buyback program called Trade Up, where you can send in an old drone for credit toward a new one. It sounds like an alluring option if you’re looking to upgrade your drone but as you can see in the video here, it’s probably not your best choice.
How Trade Up Works
The Trade Up program accepts more than just drones, DJI does take back a variety of smartphones and GoPros for example, but let’s focus on the drone buyback. Visiting this Trade Up program page, you enter the model of drone, serial number, general condition, and any accessories you’ll be giving back as well. The process take a few minutes; afterward you’ll get an estimated price for your old drone. In my case, I was shown $275.60 for a Mavic Pro 1.
Assuming you accept this initial estimate, you have 10 days to send your drone back to DJI for a final inspection. Unlike Apple’s iPhone Trade-In, DJI won’t send you a prepaid box. Although they do pay for shipping, you’ll have to box and pack your drone for DJI with your own materials.
Once DJI Gets Your Used Drone
After a DJI receives your used drone, they send an email to confirm which says it will take 3-5 business. They get back to you after an inspection and in my case, the original estimate was reduced to $41. Considering they were covering shipping at $36, I rejected the offer.
In case you accept an offer, they keep your drone and apply the final amount to your DJI account as store credit. Otherwise, as they did when I rejected the final offer, they’ll send your drone back typically after 10 business days.
Alternative Ways To Sell Your Old Drone
Given the pitiful $41 DJI was offering me, I decided to try my luck on eBay. Doing so after a week I sold my drone for $448. That’s nearly double the first estimate DJI gave me and 10 times what they would have actually credited me. Selling directly on a site like eBay will typically give you better rates than manufacturer buyback programs.
To compete, companies usually make their programs quick, convenient, or reliable enough to warrant the lower rates. DJI’s Trade Up program isn’t any of those things enough to make it the best option for selling back your old drone. (Their repair service though is another story.) Sure, you can check to see their estimate online but it’s a good idea to try other sites as well. It’s very likely you’ll get a lot more back (and not just in store credit) if you skip Trade Up altogether.