Is GoPro's TradeUp program a Deal or Ripoff?

How does GoPro’s TradeUp program work, and is it worth it?

GoPro launched it’s “TradeUp” Program in early 2017 after the announcement of the Hero5 Black edition in late 2016, and the terms seemed relatively simple: You send in your old camera, they’ll give you a big (usually $100) discount on a new camera. For anyone with a junk drawer full of old GoPro cameras, this sounds like a no-brainer, but believe it or not, it’s often a really bad deal. In this article, I’ll let you know how to decide if the TradeUp program is a good deal for you. As usual, if you don’t care about the “why” and just want the cold, hard, data, jump to the end of the article for my quick recommendations and summary.

Otherwise, a little bit of insight into what the program is, and why it exists…

TradeUp, in a nutshell

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The TradeUp program comes and goes, much like other sales and promotions for GoPro gear. It’s not always for the same cameras, and the discount amount that it offers can even vary between $50-$250, depending on what camera you’re getting. However, some things that always stay relatively the same are

  1. Direct from GoPro.com only: This doesn’t work on Amazon, B&H, Ebay,or any other vendor.

  2. The trade-in terms for the camera: GoPro keeps these relatively simple. Regardless of the condition, function, or current market value of the camera, as long as you send in a camera that had an original MSRP of $100 ($99.99, technically), it is a valid trade-in.

  3. The Process: It confuses a lot of people, but GoPro has gotten better at being clear to users… You pay FULL price for the camera including taxes and fees related t to your billing address. After your purchase, you must then send in your old camera/trade-in. After they receive your old camera, they make sure it qualifies for the program, and THEN they adjust the charge on your card and send you your new camera.

  4. No Stacking: TradeUp only lets you use one trade-in camera for one discount for one new camera purchase. You can’t gather 4 old cameras together to get a brand new GoPro for free. Otherwise, us veteran GoPro users that have been around for 10 years would be “cashing in” our drawers full of old cameras for all new gear.

  5. “While Available”: TradeUp is always for an indefinite amount of time, and can go away or change at any moment. Historically, we’ve seen GoPro stop or pause the TradeUp program, sometimes simply because so many people were doing it that they couldn’t process the trades fast enough. So, if at the end of this article it seems like a good deal to you and it’s available, consider doing it sooner than later.

Why does GoPro want my old camera???

They don’t. After launching TradeUp, in GoPro’s earnings calls where the executive teams discusses business decisions with investors, they noted that they felt like their biggest competitor these days was wasn’t other camera companies, it was their older cameras. That is, many users were perfectly happy with their Hero3, Hero4, etc. and didn’t see a reason to upgrade for another $400 for a Hero5, 6, or 7. The goal of TradeUp is to provide an incentive to get rid of the thing keeping you from getting a new GoPro camera. If giving you $100 for your old camera means you’ll spend $400 on a new one, that’s fine by them.

Do they really mean ANY old camera? Even a broken camera?

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Yes. Primarily, they’re looking to get people to trade in an old GoPro camera, but if you have an old Canon, Contour, Garmin, or even polaroid, they’ll take it. As long as the original MSRP was more than $99.99, it’s a valid trade in. There are even some users that have traded in children’s toy cameras that originally retailed for ~$120 a few years ago. If you aren’t sure if your camera qualifies, just contact GoPro support, and they can let you know for sure, but most camera models are readily searchable for their MSRP on the internet.

So is the GoPro TradeUp Program a good value?

Yes… And No. It varies… A LOT.

This is where it gets complicated. Depending on what camera you want and what camera you’re trading in (and subsequent discount), the TradeUp program has the potential to be a good deal, or a total ripoff. You have to evaluate the deal based on what you’re giving and what you’re getting.

what you get

At the time of writing this, GoPro has offered 4 different TradeUp deal variants:

  1. $100 off the $400 flagship (Hero5 Black when it launched, Hero6 a year later, and Hero7 Black currently)

  2. $100 off the $300 mid-range Hero7 Silver (no longer available)

  3. $200 and $250 off the GoPro Fusion (currently $250)

  4. $50 off Hero5 Session (this camera is discontinued, so this deal is largely irrelevant at this point)

Right off the bat, you should notice that $100 off a Hero7 Silver represents a 33% discount, while $100 off a $400 flagship only represents 25% off. Similarly, MSRP for GoPro Fusion is $599.99, so $200 off represents a 33% discount, while $250 off is a whopping 42% discount.

While these discounts sound good on paper, don’t forget that buying direct from GoPro can sometimes mean the initial price of the product is higher than getting it from license retailers. For example, at the time of writing this, Amazon has Fusion listed for notably less than MSRP and Hero7 Black has a small discount as well.

Getting a different camera may cause it to be a bad deal

This is where one of the most frustrating elements of GoPro’s TradeUp presents itself. On GoPro’s website you may see a lower-than-MSRP price, along with a notice about TradeUp. Your immediate thought may be that this would be a fantastic deal.

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Here, you can see that the price of Fusion is listed at $399.99, which is $200 less than MSRP, and it notes that you can save $250 with TradeUp! That sounds like $149.99 for a camera that was originally $600, which sounds AMAZING… and too good to be true. It is.

Clicking that $250 TradeUp button takes you to a page that immediately feels like a bait-and-switch as it notifies you that the price of the camera will not be $149.99 as expected, but will in-fact be $349.99, just $50 less than the current price.

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This actually means that they’re offering you just $50 for your trade-in camera, and it’s to buy a camera currently priced exactly the same as the Hero7 Black on their website. $50 off a $399.99 Fusion represents a paltry 12.5% discount. That’s not all that much better than using my 5% off discount method on Amazon, or better yet, buying from a retailer that doesn’t charge sales tax in your state!

Consider what you’re giving up

Imagine a scenario where you bought the original GoPro HD HERO in 2010, but haven’t used it recently because, let’s face it, 720p doesn’t cut it anymore. If you’re looking to upgrade, getting $100 for that old GoPro is pretty good unless you’re sentimental/collect old GoPro gear.

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Inversely, if you bought last year’s flagship for $400 when it launched, and you can trade it in for $100 now to get the new-new, that’s a really bad value. The camera is likely still worth $275-$320 depending on condition, so you’d be giving up a few hundred dollars trading that in.

My Opinion/Guide

When people ask me if the TradeUp program is worth it, the simplest way I can guide them is this-

If you can sell your GoPro for more than $100 on craigslist for relatively little hassle (Second-hand buyers can be flaky, I know!), sell it there rather than trading it in. Not only will you get your GoPro faster by not having to wait for the trade-in to process, but you’ll get a better “discount” by selling your old camera for more second-hand.

At the time of writing this, my local craigslist has a Hero3+ Silver for $75, and a Hero4 Silver for $150, so I’d guide that anything Hero4 and later is probably worth selling second-hand, while anything older than Hero4 is better for using as a trade-in, since you don’t have to find a buyer looking for a old, cheap camera.

But wait, if I can buy an old GoPro for less than $100, couldn’t I just…

Yep. Pro-tip: Don’t trade in your GoPro at all.

Remember, the TradeUp program isn’t just for GoPro cameras. It’s for all cameras, as long as they meet the original MSRP requirement. This means that, if you want to, you can buy a broken camera off of someone for dirt-cheap and send that in instead.

To illustrate this, I went on craigslist and searched for “camera” and set the price to $10 or less. One result it brought up was an Sony Cybershot DSC-S75 for just $5.

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I then searched for info on this camera on Google and found an article reviewing it. It turns out that this camera retailed for $700 in 2001 when 3.3Megapixels was a lot! So, this camera qualifies for TradeUp!

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If it’s convenient, you could easily pick up this camera for $5, trade it in for the TradeUp discount, and hand of your old GoPro to that adventuresome Nephew or the neighbor kid that’s always crashing his scooter off makeshift ramps in the street by your house. Share the stoke, and enjoy your dirt-cheap discount!

TL;DR?

In summary, the GoPro TradeUp Program is not worth it if you’re trading in a recent generation GoPro. Instead, simply buy an old junk camera off of craigslist (making sure the MSRP was greater than $99.99), and trade that in instead, and sell you GoPro secondhand for $100+ to fray the costs of the new camera.

If this guide was helpful, please let me know in the comments down below!


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