How to Sell Your Drone (And How to Get the Most Money!)
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I just saw the ad for the latest DJI drone and I HAVE TO HAVE IT! But it’s not cheap and I really don’t need two drones so I was wondering how I can sell my drone to make some cash to put towards my new drone. So I did a little research and found the best way to sell your drone for the most money.
You can sell your drone in person, pawn shops, or through online marketplaces. Some drone dealers like DJI offer trade in programs. You could also rent your drone out for extra cash or donate your drone to education programs. If you do decide to sell your drone, you may have to deregister your drone with the FAA, make sure all parts and accessories are present, clean and in good working order to get the most money for your drone.
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How to sell a drone
So you want to know how to sell your drone so you can upgrade to the latest and greatest? I don’t blame you!
Drone technology is improving so quickly that sometimes even your two year old drone can feel like a dinosaur compared to the newer models.
Selling your drone can go a long way to being able to afford a new one. If you have a DJI drone, you may want to scroll to the bottom and explore the Trade Up program.
If you don’t have a DJI drone, don’t worry! Here are the steps on how to sell a drone:
- Remove FAA registration number from your drone
- Format your drone’s SD card
- Gather flight data
- Find and package up all accessories
- Clean your drone and accessories
- Take high quality pictures for your listing
- Pick a marketplace to sell your drone
Before you go off listing your drone on an auction site or selling it to a friend, you need to do some research to find out how much your drone is worth so that you can get the most money for your drone.
How much is my drone worth?
There is no exact answer here. It depends on what drone you are trying to sell, what kind of condition it is in, and what else you are selling along with the drone.
You are going to have to do some market research. I am assuming your drone is used so you will have to be honest with yourself about the condition of your drone.
Also, make sure to inventory all the accessories like cables, spare batteries, cases, etc.
Whether you are selling online or not, you will be able to quickly get an idea of what your drone may sell for by searching for your drone model on these online marketplaces.
Most marketplaces online allow you to see recently sold items as well as current listings. Trying to find as many similar listings as you can and make note of what they sold for.
When setting your price, you will have to balance how quickly you want to sell your drone and how much money you want to make. A lower price point will sell quicker obviously.
Now that you have a price in mind, it is time to actually list your drone and make some money!
How to unregister drone with FAA
So if you have been flying around unregistered, then it is probably time to fix that! If your drone weighs over 0.55 lbs you will need to be registered with the FAA.
The good news is that your registration is for you, as a pilot, and not for your drone. So if you followed the guidelines that require your FAA registration number to be attached to your drone, all you have to do to prepare your drone for sale is to remove the sticker.
You will not have to register again for any new drone. You will just have to affix your registration number to your new quad.
How to format your SD card
Your drone most likely came with an SD card and a buyer would expect to receive one with their new drone so you have to make sure there is no personal photos or videos on it.
To permanently erase everything on your drone’s SD card, it isn’t enough to just delete files using your file browser.
You will want to format the SD card. Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds. First you will need to insert your SD card into your computer’s card reader (or external card reader like this one).
For Mac users:
- Open the “Disk Utility” application
- Find your SD card (probably called NO NAME or UNTITLED)
- Click “Erase” tab
- Next, click on “Format” dropdown
- Select MS-DOS (FAT) if your SD card is 32GB or smaller. Select exFAT if it’s 64GB or larger.
- Click “Erase”
- Your SD card is now properly erased and formatted!
For Windows users:
- Open “File Explorer”
- Find your SD card in the left hand pane
- Right click and select “Format”
- Set the file system to FAT32 if your SD card is smaller than 64GB or exFAT if your card is 64GB or larger
- Click “Start” and confirm
- Your SD card is now properly erased and formatted!
Once you have correctly erased all data from your SD card, you can now reinsert it back into your drone and you are ready for the next step!
How to get cumulative flight data
When listing your drone, potential buyers want to know as much as they can before they feel comfortable forking over hundreds of dollars for a used drone.
Providing a clear, concise summary of your drone’s flight data will definitely instill trust in your buyer.
Almost every drone mobile app records usage data, so go to your drone’s app and find the usage details and make sure to note the number of hours flown and mileage.
This information is crucial to know if a drone is gently used or one that has been ridden hard by the previous owner.
How to clean your drone and take good pictures
The final step before listing is to make sure your drone is fully cleaned and that you take high quality pictures to give you the best chance at getting a lot of money for your drone.
You can clean your drone with keyboard duster (ie. canned air) and soft brushes (old toothbrush will work fine) to get any dust or dirt off the body and rotors.
After that, use a microfiber cloth and some rubbing alcohol to give your drone that right out the box shine.
Make sure to also clean all accessories like cables, spare batteries, etc.
Then you want to take a lot of high quality photos. Make sure you are in a well lit room with a plain backdrop.
Take a bunch of angles as well as images of all the included accessories. More images help instill confidence in your buyer that they are not going to get ripped off.
Now that you have at least 10 high quality photos of your drone and accessories, it is time to decide where you want to sell your drone.
Where can you sell your drone?
Determining where you want to list your drone can have a huge impact on the amount of money you receive. While listing your drone online offers convenience and a larger potential pool of buyers, fees and shipping costs can cut into your profits.
My first suggestion would be exploring some of the options of selling your drone locally.
Friends and family
Surely after all this time flying around your fancy drone your friends and family have taken notice. Perhaps some of them are interested in getting into drones or upgrading their own drone.
I find that this is where you can make the most money for your drone. Your friends and family won’t usually low ball you on the price and sometimes don’t know exactly how much they should be paying.
Don’t scam your friends and family but don’t be afraid to put on your salesman hat either!
Pawn shops are notorious for lowballing people because they are in the business of reselling. If they can’t get a good deal on something, it is hard to resell for a profit.
So while you are almost guaranteed to not get the most money out of your drone, there isn’t a quicker way to sell your drone.
Most pawn shops will pay you in cash that same day. It just may be a lot less cash than you could have gotten elsewhere.
Craigslist, OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last decade, you are well aware of online classifieds like Craigslist.
In recent years, more and more online marketplaces for local selling have popped up like OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace.
These are great because they expose your drone to a much larger pool of potential buyers and also allow for a quick sale to someone local.
I always recommend a healthy amount of caution with these sites. Make sure you talk to potential buyers on the phone before meeting them and meet them at a public place, not your house.
The king of auction sites is still the leader when it comes to selling your drone online. You can post your drone for sale and have access to millions of potential buyers.
I recommend setting a reserve just under your asking price (10-15%) and also include a “Buy It Now” price just over your asking price.
You will have to pay a portion of your sale to eBay in fees but it can be well worth it with how many people will see your drone for sale.
Buy back world
Buy Back World isn’t an auction site like eBay. Instead, they pay you cash for your used electronics.
Even if your drone is broken, they may still give you cash for it. They make their money similar to a pawn shop where they refurbish and resell used electronics.
They will even provide you with an instant quote for your drone here.
Once you agree to their offer, you will print a shipping label and send your drone off to them for their review and they will pay you after they verify the condition of your drone.
Drone Trader is an online classifieds specifically for drones and drone accessories. They even have a mobile app for Android and iOS!
It is not only a great place to research the going rate for your drone but it is also an awesome resource for finding your next drone at a great price!
Just be aware that you are most likely dealing with savvy drone owners who know how much your drone is worth so don’t expect to fool anyone with a higher than market price on this site.
Paymore is a lot like BuyBackWorld in that it buys used and broken drones for cash and then refurbishes them and resells them for a profit.
If the idea of instant cash offers appeal to you, then price comparison shopping between Paymore and BuyBackWorld to try to get the most for your drone is a good idea.
Expert Drones is an online retailer of drones and drone accessories and just recently started their very own drone buy-back program.
They are currently only accepting certain DJI drones but they are offering extremely competitive rates. If you are willing to take store credit, you can pocket significantly more for your drone to apply to your next purchase. They also offer cash.
And finally we have SellBroke which is yet another service that will buy your drone from you for cash. They even explicitly cater to broken or damaged drones.
A big selling point is that they buy all makes and models of drones so if you want to know how to sell your Yuneec drone, you can do so here!
Alternatives to selling your drone
Selling your drone isn’t the only option you have when moving on to bigger and better drones!
You can always trade in your drone for a discount on your upgrade. You can hold on to your drone and rent it out for an extra income stream. Or you could donate your drone to a school or education program to help spread the joy of drone flying!
Trade in your drone
If you happen to own a DJI drone and are looking to upgrade to one of their newer models, they are one of the only drone manufacturers that offers a trade in program.
You can get an instant quote for your drone, ship it in and receive store credit to purchase your brand new DJI drone like the Mavic Air!
Rent your drone for cash
Instead of getting rid of your old drone, you could easily rent it out for some extra cash!
Whether it is friends and family or a listing in the classifieds, you can rent your drone to beginners who are interested in trying out drone flying without having the huge upfront cost of buying a drone.
Donate your drone for education
Lastly, you could always donate your drone to a school or educational program to help spread the joy of drone flying.
Lots of schools and STEM programs would love to work with drones but the entry cost is too much for some and a generous donation would go a long way.
It doesn’t hurt that you can also receive a tax break from the IRS should you choose to donate. Make sure you work with your accountant to make sure you get all the tax refund you can!
How to get the most money when selling your drone?
The top way I have found of how to sell a drone is by selling it to friends or family.
There is already inherit trust built up (at least I would hope) and you have the best shot at getting the most money for your drone.
The second best way would be online auction sites or classifieds like eBay or Craigslist. These can take a little longer to sell but you are more likely to get a fair price.
Trade in sites and pawn shops are great if you just want quick cash and are not concerned about maximizing the value of your drone.
It is entirely up to you on how you sell your drone and what you you want to get out of it! But now that you know how to sell your drone, it is time to get that thing sold so you can start flying a brand new quad around impressing all of your buddies!