After you decide which drone is the best drone for you, you’ll need to find a place to buy it. There are local shops around the globe that you can walk in and grab a drone off the shelf, but today we will look at some of the best online retailers for the task.
The choices may be obvious, but let’s see if we can introduce you to something new anyway.
Best place to buy a drone
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The right place to buy a drone may not be the manufacturer or the place that just happens to have the unit in stock at the time. Your purchasing decision should be thought out, as there is more at stake here than just a toy.
Please keep in mind, here in the United States if your drone weighs more than 0.55 lbs it is a federally regulated aircraft. It is your job as the pilot to ensure the safe flight and landing of the craft. Buying an unreliable drone, or one that is somehow unfit to fly due to seller neglect is still your responsibility in the air.
I hope it goes without saying that the basics of a purchase are important here. Be sure to choose a retailer that has been in service a while, or at least is proving a reliable reputation. Be sure there is good support services for the purchase, if not for the drone itself, and that a return/replacement policy is in place for your needs.
Where do we shop?
It should be no surprise to you, Amazon is our go-to retailer for most drone purchases. They are a long way from being a helpful source of drone knowledge, but they certainly have one of the largest selections of drones and accessories you’ll find out there.
It feels silly trying to explain Amazon to you. They are the multi-billion dollar company that has all but redefined the shopping experience for the world. They likely have the drone you are looking for, at a good price and their return policy is top notch.
B&H Photo is an online retailer that focuses on camera equipment. As we all know, a good drone is just a camera with wings, so B&H have filled their shelves. Whenever we attend a drone convention, B&H always has a booth. They are a great place to visit if you want to see a bunch of options, instead of just what a manufacturer has on display.
B&H does mostly focus on consumer products, but they dabble in some of the more consumer friendly professional machines as well. At InterDrone 2017 B&H let us put hands on the FreeFly Alta 8, a ~$17000 drone.
As we just discussed, if a drone is a flying camera for most people, then B&H is not the only retailer around, Adorama is a solid source for camera equipment and drones. You’ll mostly find the standard consumer products on their store, but they have a good selection of accessories as well.
Best Buy is a fairly major consumer electronics retailer, and as it turns out, many of the best drones are consumer electronics. Last time I was in a Best Buy store they were all but sold out of DJI products, but they had a good amount of Autel Robotics, Parrot and UDI drones in house.
Hopping over to Best Buy online offers up a vast selection of drones, not as much as Amazon, but pretty close if you include the Marketplace. Once again, this is not a drone specialists retailer, but as one of the largest electronics retailers around, they back their products well. We bought our original GoPro Karma from Best Buy, they were very friendly and fast about the return after the recall.
If you are flying for pay, or any other form of compensation, you must operate under a different set of rules and possess a commercial drone license. We call it the Part 107, it’s not too hard to get, but it will take some time to learn all the rules. We want to help you learn the rules and get your commercial license, check out our drone pilot training material.
The folks at Flite Test are a passionate group of hobby pilots. They have more of a focus on fixed-wing airplanes, but they also have plenty of racing drones in their arsenal. Let me be blunt, their YouTube content covering the education of RC airplanes has been fascinating and very inspiring for me. They show you how to build, repair and tweak all sorts of airplanes, and their store is packed with free plans, inexpensive materials and build kits, more complete speed build kits that they do some of the work for you, and more. Basically, everyone can find something here, from the DIY builder that just needs parts, all the way up to the casual pilot that wants to fly out of the box.
The Flite Test store recently updated and expanded, they now carry some DJI drones and more.
Fry’s Electronics (Update: maybe not)
Update: I stopped in to my local Fry’s, I was not pleased with what I found. Empty shelves and a very restrictive policy. Not cool.
Let’s be honest here, I made a mistake. I knew that Fry’s sold a few toy class drones, sure, but it was not until a recent visit that I realized they carry a good selection of the top machines. There was nothing larger than a Phantom 4 Pro at the location I visited, but that was enough to get their name on this list. They’re big on the DJI products, with the Spark, Mavic Pro and more at the ready, but you can also find a good Yuneec drone or two as well.
Stampede is also a camera focused company, except they steer more toward the high end. They consider an entry level class of drone to go up to $2000, with more ‘consumer’ buyers needing a few grand to get flying.
At the tech conventions Stampede always has a large booth with dozens of different drone brands and models kicking around. They do carry some of the more conventional machines that are a little more friendly on the wallet, so don’t be afraid to hit them up to see a wide variety of flying cameras.
As a proud member of the Android Authority team, it is hard for me to admit, the Apple Store is a pretty good place to go drone shopping. They have a very limited selection of flying machines, but they stand by what they offer. Their prices are fair for most machines, but they are not big on offering sales like many of the other sellers on our list.
Early on, the DJI Mavic Pro, DJI Spark and the Hover Passport selfie drone rounded out their selection. You can now find the Sphero droids, Propel Star Wars quadcopters and more.
As mentioned above, you can hit nearly any of the drone manufacturers‘ websites for buying options. We haven’t created links to those sites, but you can at least get a feel for their drones from our guides.
We’ve seen the team from Multicopter Warehouse at a few drone conventions now, but we excluded them from this list until now because of their lack of size and flexibility. That has changed, they are now a full fledged DJI re-seller and have grown to a level we are comfortable recommending them. They have a good selection of the more popular consumer drones like we like around here, but they really excel with their selection of commercial class machines. It is a learning experience just to peruse their online store.
Make no mistake, we have serious reservations about buying used drones from unknown sources. You just never know what they’ve been through. It’s a good thing that eBay has matured well beyond simply selling used products. We urge you to shop wisely, consider the vendor, their location and their return policies, then make sure that your purchase is still eligible for factory warranty, but then the sky is the limit. You can find almost any drone on eBay, just start your search and get ready to fly.
Where do you shop?
This is not an exhaustive list of drone retailers, not by a long shot, we just wanted to get the ball rolling. Please hit us up in the comments if you’d like to make recommendations for your favorite drone retailer, otherwise, stay tuned for future updates with new stores.