DJI launched a ‘Trade Up’ program earlier in the summer, offering drone pilots a way to trade in their old gear for credit to spend on DJI products.
The idea is certainly a winner. Plenty of pilots have old drones sitting around collecting dust. Why not clear some space and put them towards getting a newer model? The program also extends to cell phones and tablets, which is handy.
How Does Trade Up Work?
So how does it work? Well, it’s pretty straightforward.
First, head to the Trade Up section in DJI’s website. Select the item you want to trade in and its condition and follow the instructions the instructions to generate your quote and print your mailing label.
Then, pack up your device, attach the mailing label. DJI’s Trade Up partner Re-tek will arrange a courier to collect your package and cover the costs.
DJI will then assess your device and evaluate it against the original quote they gave you. This will take a few days, and they might end up sending you a new valuation based on that assessment. It’s then up to you to accept their final value or request to have your device returned.
Two-business days after that, the final value of your device will generate a credit that will be stored in your DJI account, ready to spend in the DJI store.
The Price of Convenience
As with all programs like this, convenience comes at a price. DJI is doing you a favor by collecting your old gear and providing you with credit to spend in store. The question you need to ask yourself is whether the price they offer you is a fair one.
We did a few trial runs to see what kind of prices DJI is offering for used drones. These are the quotes given to us by DJI:
Mavic Pro, Used Like New: $296
Phantom 4, Used: $93
DJI Spark, New: $168
The important thing to bear in mind is that, even in ‘Used’ condition, the drone is fully functional – damage and wear and tear are cosmetic only.
So should you trade in a fully functional Mavic Pro with minor cosmetic scratches for $296? How about a working Phantom 4 with significant cosmetic scratches for just $93?
If we compare those numbers to what you would get for your drone on, say, eBay, let’s see what kind of prices you could achieve with drones in those same conditions.
For a Mavic Pro in Used condition, our search showed that buyers are bidding on original Mavics at prices well above $500, depending on the accessories that come with the drone.
For a Used Phantom 4, the picture is similar. Our search showed listings with active bidders well above $400 with the same caveats. Ditto the Spark, with Like New models going for around $300.
There are a couple of things to note. First, selling through a site like eBay means you can chuck in all of the random accessories you’ve bought since purchasing your drone: cases, ND filters, landing pads, car chargers, whatever.
The downside: eBay will take commission from the sale – usually around 10 percent – depending on how much it goes for. You might also have annoying buyers that don’t pay up or insist on returning your items despite them being listed accurately. Those are the risks you take.
With DJI’s Trade Up Program there is less risk in that sense. Aside from the risk that DJI’s valuation could differ from your own. What you might class as ‘like new’, DJI might class as ‘Used’, for example. The question is then whether you can be bothered to wait for your goods to be sent back to you, or whether fatigue of the process will drive you to accept a lower estimate than the price you had expected.
We think it’s certainly worth checking out other options before you go and sell recent drones and electronics back to DJI. Chances are you’ll find significantly better value elsewhere.
But if you’ve got items that aren’t worth much to anyone: a broken Phantom 3, for example, or a used Phantom 2, why not trade those in for some credits? Just don’t expect them to make a significant dent the asking price for a new Mavic Pro 2.