Maybe you’re hoping to sell your existing drone to get money toward a spiffy new one, like a DJI Mavic 3, DJI Mini 3 Pro or Skydio 2+. Perhaps you simply lost interest in the hobby and don’t use your drone any more. If you’re here because you’re thinking, “I’d really like to sell my used drone,” you have options.
You don’t have to let your outdated equipment become a dust-collecting paperwork. You can actually turn your used drone into cash. As far has how you do it and how much money you earn of your drone depends on the route you take (and how much effort you’re willing to put into it). In general, the more effort you put in, the more payoff.
If you want actual cash: online marketplaces like eBay or Mercari
If you want cold, hard cash, look to traditional online marketplaces, such as eBay, Mercari or Craigslist.
All of these sites charge seller fees in some capacity (whether it’s upfront when you post, or after-the-fact when you sell), which can cut back on how much you’ll ultimately earn.
There’s also still some labor on your end; creating an account, photographing and listing your item, and ultimately packing and shipping it; and there’s no guarantee it will ever actually sell. But if you’re up for it, you could make a few hundred dollars.
Here are some of the online marketplaces you should know:
With Mercari, there’s no fee for you to create an account or list items. Simply take photos and post a description of your item, alongside your selling price. Mercari allows for buyers to negotiate, so they might offer you something lower than your listing price, which you can choose to accept or ignore.
Sign up for Mercari using this link, and you’ll get $10 off your first purchase. And if you’re looking to sell on Mercari, you’ll make another $20 once you complete your first $100 in sales.
Once you’ve made a sale, Mercari emails you a printable shipping label. As far as the shipping charges, you have options as to who pays. You can choose to ship on your own, which might be good for experienced sellers with larger items (and you’ll pay the costs out of pocket). Or, you can choose to get a prepaid label from Mercari, which will cut into your profits. Perhaps most relevant to drone sellers is “Mercari Pack & Ship,” where you bring your item to a UPS Store, and their employees will pack and ship your drone for you — especially appealing for fragile or bulky items.
When you do make a sale, Mercari handles most of it, including customer support should any issues arise between you and the purchaser. They handle the transactions and ensure the seller’s payment methods are valid, so you can guarantee you’ll get paid for your sale.
That said, you do owe Mercari something. Mercari charges a 2.9% + $0.30 payment processing fee for sellers on all completed transactions, as well as a 10% selling fee (and that doesn’t account for whatever shipping you are on the hook for).
To cash out, there is a $2 fee if you choose Instant Pay. If you choose Direct Deposit (which takes up to 5 business days to get your payment), you’ll need to transfer at least $10 to avoid fees.
If you’re a casual seller, it’s likely free to list on eBay. The site is free if you have fewer than 250 items per month, though you’ll owe a $0.35 insertion fee per listing if you have more items than that.
eBay displays sellers’ feedback ratings, so — if you’re looking to have the best odds of selling your drone at the highest price — it’s helpful if you’ve sold other, smaller items too.
When you make a sale, eBay keeps a portion of the sale (typically 12.55% of the sale price plus $0.30 per order). Though, eBay handles the actual transactions. When items sell, they send your payouts directly to your bank account.
As far as shipping goes, you decide the price you want to charge — though you’re also on your own for shipping it.
Craigslist is a mega-DIY option, and it is best suited for sales that can be done in-person — and likely in cash.
Unlike all the other sites listed here, Craigslist doesn’t even take a cut of your sale. It’s simply a community bulletin board. The catch? There’s also effectively no protections for you. Should you decide to ship an item, there’s a risk you’ll let go of your drone and never get payment in return. It’s typically best to meet up in person for Craigslist sales, but that also might require more work — including finding a safe, public space to meet up for the transaction, like a coffee shop.
As far as the money goes, you’ll also agree with the seller the method of payment. Something like cash might be best, so you can guarantee the payment method is legitimate.
Look to drone-specific marketplaces
There are a number of eBay-esque websites, but designed specifically for drones. Online market places like DroneTrader allow you to list your used drone gear, and often for free. While this may help you avoid fees that major sites like eBay charge, you may also have less seller support. Drone Girl has not independently review any of these drone-specific marketplaces, so use them at your own risk.
If you want to manage a side hustle: rent out your drone instead
There are a number of startups focused on drone rentals, and some of them allow you to list your own drone for rent. One of the most popular startups, UpSonder, acts as a type of Airbnb for drones. UpSonder handles the payment processing, scheduling, messaging and more. And for people who don’t want to meet the owner directly, they can even have it delivered via Uber.
Most of the drones on UpSonder’s site are DJI products. A DJI Phantom can typically be rented for about $70 a day while the Mavic can be rented typically for about $85. UpSonder also serves as a market for finding drone pilots.
A good option (when it’s available): DJI Trade Up
*Note: This program has been temporarily suspended, and we’re not sure when it will return. Unfortunately DJI Trade Up is not currently an option, though we have chosen to retain the (outdated) information below purely for informational purposes*.
If you’re fine with DJI Store Credits in lieu of cash, DJI Trade Up makes it easy to exchange not just DJI gear, but a multitude of electronics. DJI Trade Up is a service where you can ship them your old, unused gear, whether it’s DJI drones or other tech products like Apple iPhones and Google Pixels, in exchange for a DJI store credit.
According to the estimator on DJI’s site, a 64GB iPhone X in “new condition” could net you $490, while a DJI Phantom 1 in “used condition” might earn you $38. Simply click this link for DJI’s Trade Up calculator to see if your device qualifies for the Trade Up program. Then, you ship your device to DJI where it will be evaluated for its actual value.
If you’re giving up on drones completely, this might not be the program for you, as you’ll receive DJI Credits to use at the official DJI Online Store rather than cash.
The altruistic option: donate it
If all else fails, donate your drone! Drones are becoming increasingly popular in STEM programs, particularly among middle and high school students, and even Girl Scouts! The primary factor drawing them back from more widespread use: schools can’t afford their high cost.
Contact local schools or after-school programs to see if they might be interested in your drone.
And while donating your stuff is always a good deed, you might also get a little bit of money out of it. The IRS allows you to claim a deduction for the value of all cash and property you donate to qualified organizations, which can include charities and school district programs that do not operate for profit and are solely supported by state and local governments. According to TurboTax, federal tax law permits you to use “any reasonable valuation method” as long as it assesses a value that relates to the price a willing buyer would pay for identical property in the open market. So check what your drone is going for on eBay, donate your drone, make some kids happy, and write that much off on your taxes.