Find the Cheapest Garmin Running Watch. 4 Money Saving Secrets. Updated for 2020

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Garmin may be a premium brand when it comes to GPS Watches, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay a premium price. Use these four tips to find the cheapest Garmin that still helps you towards your fitness goals.

Disclaimer – Throughout this post, I’ll include several examples so you can compare these tips and their impact on price. I’m a one man website and given my previous revision to this guide was from 4 years ago, please accept the prices you see will get out of date – Hopefully products featured will become even cheaper! For the most up to date prices, visit Amazon.
 
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Ready to save money on a Garmin? Let’s go…

At nearly 4000 words, this guide is pretty lengthy, so I built a time machine to help you jump forward to the most relevant advice. You’re welcome!

#1 – Buy a Refurbished Garmin

#2 – Don’t discount the older watch releases

#3 – Only buy a watch with the features you’ll actually use

#4 – Be prepared to buy any colour


#1 – Buy a Refurbished Garmin

An easy way to save some serious cash, refurbished products are often returned to a manufacturer or seller by a previous customer because of a change of mind or a fault. Unlike second hand, the refurbishment process extensively tests the product to make sure any fault is corrected; meaning they are in a fit condition to resell.

Though they don’t shout about it, Amazon are a HUGE reseller in refurbished products. There are three different categories to be aware of and how they differ:

  • Amazon Renewed
  • Amazon Warehouse Deals
  • Used

Amazon Renewed

Rebranded from the old name of Certified Refurbished, Amazon Renewed products are a mix of pre-owned, refurbished and open box products that are in a ‘like new’ condition. There should be no visible cosmetic imperfections when the wearable is viewed from 12 inches away. For added reassurance all Amazon Renewed products are eligible for a refund or replacement within the first 90 days if you’re not satisfied with what you’ve bought.

These are the safest refurbished option for a consumer due to the stricter guidelines in place for sellers. Conditions they must meet include:

  • When applying, the seller has to prove they already deal in high-volumes. This is through sharing previous 90 days of invoices that must evidence a minimum of £20,000 value in qualifying relevant refurbished products.
  • The seller has to provide a minimum 90 day warranty starting from day of purchase for Amazon US customers. UK and Europe store customers get an even better deal extended to a whole year.
  • A product and packaging review.
  • Refurbishment process should include a diagnostics test, replacement of any defective parts, a thorough cleaning and inspection process and repackaging where applicable.

To hold onto Amazon Renewed status, the seller has to maintain an Order Defect Rate (ODR) below 0.8% over the last 90 days. Given refunds, slow delivery or even negative ratings can influence this score, it’s in the sellers best interest to deliver Garmin products that are refurbished to a high quality.

The key point is that the actual watch has to in a like-new condition; that’s the best of the best in refurbished products. You may get a different box and accessories, but as long as you’re comfortable with that, you can benefit from some tidy savings.

How to spot Amazon Renewed deals?

On a results page, where you’ll get lists of products. Amazon Renewed products will have (Renewed) in their title and an additional field that says “Amazon Renewed” – like the three results in this image.

(Renewed) in product title and Amazon Renewed on product tile

Click through to the product page, and you’ll see both (Renewed) in the product title, and the seller listed as Amazon Renewed. There’s even a comparison box that states this version is £47.99 cheaper than buying brand new.

Garmin Instinct Discount - Amazon Renewed
The product page shows that you’re saving £47.99 versus buying brand new. Winner!

Amazon Warehouse Deals

This is Amazon’s method of selling their own stock which isn’t in a new condition anymore. There are a few reasons why a Garmin might fall into this category.

  • Customer opened the box and returned it to Amazon as a change of mind
  • Customer used the product briefly but sent it back within the returns policy deadline
  • The item was damaged in the warehouse so is no longer in the aesthetic condition to be sold suitably as new (Including if the only damage is the box itself!)
Amazon Warehouse Deals

The physical condition and functionality of these devices are tested before resale, and although Amazon state they are not eligible for a manufacturer warranty, they are still backed by Amazon’s return policy. For a little extra reassurance, there’s nothing stopping you buying a Square Trade warranty to cover the product more extensively.

Warehouse products are graded against their condition, with like-new stock prioritised for the Amazon Renewed category, Warehouse Deals will likely fit into one of the other three conditions.

  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Acceptable

Expect tiny discounts on a little box damage, and much larger discounts if found on the actual Garmin. In most cases you’ll get an explanation for the condition grade given.

Amazon Warehouse Deal Example – Forerunner 945

Now Garmin products can be quite rare in the Amazon Warehouse, and at time of most recent revision (May 2020), I couldn’t find any deals in the UK or US stores. Here’s a Canadian store example of what to look for on a product page:

The product will be sold by “Warehouse Deals”, and you can click for details explaining the condition grade. This Forerunner 945 has multiple cosmetic issues, so is downgraded to acceptable.

But when comparing against buying brand new come greater savings. A 25% discount is applied to the price of this high-tier triathlon focussed Garmin.

Used – But Amazon isn’t the seller

This final option won’t be for everyone, but is worth covering so you’re able to recognise the difference. After Amazon Renewed, and Amazon Warehouse you’re left with everything else that is classed as Used. Being a marketplace, these will come from third-party sellers most likely for the following reasons

  • Products which have been returned to the seller. Essentially like Amazon Warehouse but for stock not kept at Amazon. This would include the whole range of conditions from Like New, down to Very Good, Good and Acceptable.
  • The seller refurbishes products, but hasn’t met the criteria to be ‘Amazon Renewed’. They might not qualify due to genuine reasons like insufficient volume on their invoices. But it could also be due to negative reviews, a warranty period that is too short or an insufficient refurbishment process.
  • The returned product isn’t in a like-new condition AND isn’t Amazon stock

The nervousness around this final category is the unpredictability of what you’re going to receive. My advice is to approach with caution and research the seller before you transact. You can do this by clicking on their name. Some of the info I’d want to know:

  • Reviews. Not only can you get an average seller score of the last 12 months, you can see how they’ve performed over the last 30 days, 6 months etc. This may give you an idea of whether their rating is getting better or worse over time. The volume of reviews will also give clues on whether its a large scale operation, or a type
  • Read the feedback and see what customers say. Does the condition of product match customer expectations? Some customers will share photos.
  • You can also review the type of products they sell. If they’re claiming to refurbish Garmin watches to a high standard you’d expect their store to be full of electronics they’ve repaired.

Used Deal Example – Garmin fenix 5s

Ok, so I found this Garmin fenix 5s deal that offers a $77.97 discount vs buying brand new. Its condition is very good, which is one tier below like new but a couple of red flags encourage me to do more research.

First up, the average reviews score over the last 12 months is 82% positive, which in this sector I think you’re safer with scores of 90-95%

Looking into the seller further and I can see the majority of non-positive reviews are negative. The last 30 days are better than the last 12 months.

On the product itself, the warranty is only for 30 days. Something longer would give me more confidence to give them by money.

How much can you save?

Comparing all offerings, it’s a mixed bag as to which is cheaper. As deals are changing all the time, I’ve linked to both shop entrances so you can explore for yourself…

In my experience, with Warehouse Deals you’re more likely to find a more recent Forerunner model, though stock is more limited because it becomes available as and when users return.

With Amazon Renewed, there’s a steady pipeline of Garmin Forerunners which are sold by 3rd party retailers on Amazon. Deals tend to stick around a little bit longer as there’s more stock plus you often get a better warranty included.


#2 – Know which older Garmin Watches help achieve your goals

It’s easy to snub a piece of tech released a few years ago as obsolete. Perhaps technology has become too disposable? We live in an age where we upgrade our smartphones every two years and it’s cheaper to simply buy a new TV than get it fixed. 

But remember this thought: If Garmin stopped releasing new and innovative products, interest in their brand would dwindle.

They’d probably go out of business due to a lack of sales. So as with any other manufacturer, they evolve their product line year on year, with tweaks to a design and new features thrown in. And having already released 33 Forerunner watches since 2003, it’s a no-brainer that some of these older models will still be more than capable of tracking your exercise. But unless you know them by name, they’re not easy to find…

Garmin will focus marketing budget on advertising their most recent releases. You won’t hear them shouting about a watch released 5 years ago! On top of this, the Garmin Forerunner product range is strategically priced with products targeting different segments of the running community. From casual fun runners, to the international marathon elite, each audience is typically treated to a two year release cycle.

To find the savings on a relevant watch, pick the older model from the category which bests relates to your running needs.

How much can you save buying an older Garmin?

How much you save will depend on which type of Garmin watch you go for. I’ve segmented the product range, into Garmin’s 2019/2020 focus line-up and the products which are most similar.

CategoryMost recent releaseOlder model to compareEven older
Running EssentialsForerunner 45 (2019)Forerunner 35 (2016)Forerunner 25 (2015)
Running coachForerunner 245 (2019)Forerunner 235 (2015)
TriathlonForerunner 945 (2019)Forerunner 935 (2017)Forerunner 735XT (2016)
AdventureFenix 6 series (2019)Fenix 5 seriesFenix 3 HR
LifestyleVenu (2019)Vivoactive 3 MusicVivoactive HR

The Forerunner 645 Music is also a key product release but I felt the watch is too different to 2015’s Forerunner 630 for a fair comparison.

Running Essentials – Forerunner 45 (2019)

I get it, you just want to get out there and run. The Forerunner 45 promotes more simplicity with key features that tick the box. But if that’s all you want, check out 2017’s Forerunner 35. Sure, it’s not as aesthetic, but you can rely on the functionality and save £50.

Garmin FR 35

Garmin Forerunner 35Links to Amazon

View Deals

Garmin FR 45

Garmin Forerunner 45sLinks to Amazon

View Deals
What can both do?
  • Record running and cycling distance and speed through GPS.
  • Heart rate tracking on the wrist
  • Lifestyle metrics such as step goal, inactivity alerts and sleep tracking
  • Notifications from your smartphone appear on your watch face
What does the FR45 have extra?
  • Two size options including a smaller Forerunner 45s
  • Colour display
  • GLONASS and Galileo satellite tracking
  • More activity profiles including cardio, elliptical and yoga
  • Incident detection

For a more in-depth comparison read Garmin Forerunner 45 vs Forerunner 35

And if you want a GPS for even less, and not interested in heart rate data, check out 2015’s release, the Forerunner 25. It still has step tracking and the ability to upload activity via Bluetooth to the Garmin Connect app. At time of writing it’s comfortably cheaper in the £70 to £85 price bracket.

Running Coach – Forerunner 245 (2019)

Garmin FR 235

Garmin Forerunner 235Links to Amazon

View Deals

Garmin FR 245

FR 245 MusicLinks to Amazon

View Deals
What can both do?
  • GPS running and cycling watch with all day heart rate tracking
  • VO2 Max and Race Predictor
  • Running cadence
  • Step, sleep monitoring and intensity minutes
What does the FR245 have extra?
  • More built-in sports apps including pool swimming
  • Training Load and Training Effect. The FR235 has aerobic Training Effect but is missing the anaerobic metric
  • Body battery energy monitor
  • 24 hours in GPS mode vs 12 hours on the FR235
  • Pulse Ox sensor

For a more in-depth comparison read Garmin Forerunner 245 vs Forerunner 235

Triathlon watches – Forerunner 945 (2019)

For those who run, bike and swim, the Forerunner 945 is crammed full of additional metrics and features compared to its 935 sibling. Arguably the FR945 is a better watch, enhanced with colour maps on the display and more features borrowed from Edge cycling units (Climbpro, enhanced turn by turn navigation). The higher cost is also inflated with features like contactless payments through Garmin Pay and on device music storage. If you’re not going to use them, the 935 will support your triathlon training and races just fine, and at a reduced cost.

Garmin FR 935

Forerunner 935Links to Amazon

View Deals

Garmin FR 945

FR 945Links to Amazon

View Deals
What can both do?
  • Tracks multiple sports, including triathlon where you can change stages with a single button press.
  • At least 2 weeks battery life in smartwatch mode
  • Heart rate tracking on the wrist
  • Training status and training load metrics
  • Barometric Altimeter and Compass
What does the FR 945 have extra?
  • Music storage and playback on the watch
  • Full colour maps appear on the watch face. Visualises turn by turn navigation on courses
  • Monitors blood oxygen saturation levels using Pulse Ox sensor
  • Additional gym activity profiles for strength, elliptical, stair stepping and yoga
  • Garmin Pay

Adventure – Fenix 6

Whether you’re on a multi-day expedition or skiing down a mountain, the fenix series, has rugged and resilient appeal to help you fight the elements.

Buying a fenix can already be confusing enough, as available in 3 different sizes, with different body materials, the price can soon escalate. That’s without spending extra for the Pro edition which includes music, maps and Wi-Fi features or opt for the Pro-Solar edition, which extends battery by up to 3 days through the power of the sun.

Garmin fenix 5

Garmin fenix 5 seriesLinks to Amazon

View Deals

Garmin fenix 6

Garmin fenix 6 seriesLinks to Amazon

View Deals
What can both do?
  • Tracks multiple sports, including triathlon where you can change stages with a single button press.
  • At least 2 weeks battery life in smartwatch mode
  • Heart rate tracking on the wrist
  • Training status and training load metrics
  • Barometric Altimeter and Compass
What does the fenix 6 have extra?
  • Music storage and playback on the watch
  • Full colour maps appear on the watch face. Visualises turn by turn navigation on courses
  • Monitors blood oxygen saturation levels using Pulse Ox sensor
  • Additional gym activity profiles for strength, elliptical, stair stepping and yoga
  • Garmin Pay

A compromise between the two would be checking out the fenix 5 Plus series, which was released as a half-step between series 5 and 6. If the music, maps and Garmin Pay functionality have appeal, you’ll probably find this cheaper than buying a series 6 model.

Lifestyle – Garmin Venu (2019)

Released in 2018, this rerelease of the Vivoactive 3 isn’t much older than the Venu. There are many similarities of the activity and lifestyle tracking metrics, its just the Venu has a couple of tasty extras thrown in.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music

Garmin Vivoactive 3 MusicLinks to Amazon

View Deals

Garmin Venu

Links to Amazon

View Deals
What can both do?
  • Store and play music on the watch
  • Sports tracking for at least 15 types of activity
  • Wrist based heart rate
  • VO2 max and fitness age estimates
  • Menstrual cycle tracking
What does the Venu have extra?
  • AMOLED display. Brighter and more colourful images than other watch models
  • Animated on-screen workouts to show you cardio, strength, yoga and pilates exercises
  • Respiration tracking
  • Advanced sleep monitoring
  • Underwater wrist based heart rate

I would have compared against the the Vivoactive 4, but due to it also released in 2019, it didn’t really apply to the saving rule. Its features are even more similar to the Venu, and you can save money if you’re prepared to lose out on that brighter AMOLED display.

Across the Garmin product range you can see that the older Forerunner can be found cheaper than the new version. You may have also noticed the basic Forerunners, are much cheaper, which leads us on nicely to my final tip…


#3 – Only buy a watch with the features you’ll ACTUALLY use

Though both released last year, there are huge price differences between high/value end of the Forerunner range. Even without a heart rate monitor, the Forerunner 630 is almost 3 times more expensive than a Forerunner 25. Ask yourself this… Would buying the Forerunner 630 enhance your training 3x more than a Forerunner 25?

As consumers, we fall into the habit of picking a more expensive product because we assume better quality. As runners we want access to the best tools because we think they’ll make us better runners. Objectively, the 630 has a much higher specification and can do a lot more than the Forerunner 25, but are you going to use those extra features to justify the extra spend?

My advice is that if you’re only just starting out on your running journey, you can shave minutes off your road times without needing to know all the technical metrics found in a high end GPS watch. Record your runs through a cheaper Forerunner like the FR25 and invest the saved money into another pair of trainers, access to an athletic track or gym equipment for conditioning. These are what will make you stronger, stay injury-free and improve your endurance performance.

Features found on the FR630 like Ground Contact Time, and Vertical Oscillation are what’s know as one percenters. They’ll have a small benefit, but should only be prioritised once you have optimised the larger 99% of your training.

Do you need the HR chest strap?

For some runners, these can be quite uncomfortable to wear. If you have no intention of using it, look for the same watch model without the chest strap bundle and you could save $30-50.

Already own a Garmin chest strap from a previous purchase? Chances are it’ll be compatible with the newer model if both use ANT+ connectivity. Go for the non-bundle pack and just keep using your old heart rate monitor

#4 – Be open to buying any colour variant

Many Garmin releases give consumers a choice of colours. Despite variations often having the same RRP at release, overtime the prices can diverge.

I don’t know why but I have a guess. Perhaps some colour variations sell at a slower rate, so reductions in price help to clear warehouse space to buy in more of the popular colours.

Example 1 – Garmin Instinct

Take this colour palette of Garmin Instinct watches as an example. Whilst the first two are Tactical Editions with extra features, the six standard versions are all at different prices ranging from £225.54 in Lakeside Blue, up to £269.99 in Tundra. A 17% variance!

Garmin Instinct differences in price based on colour variant

It’s no means an exact science, but often the fairly safe colours like the black, white and greys of Garmin lineup seem to hold their price, whilst the more colourful versions reduce.

Example 2 – Forerunner 25

Initially the differences between colours might not be that big. But take the Forerunner 25, released a long time ago in 2015, and surpassed by the 30, 35 and 45; This product is end of life and taking up space. Already reduced to £85, the pink and white version is £15.05 and 17% cheaper than all other variants.

The pink and white FR25 is much cheaper than the rest

So my tip is to always check the different colour variations of a model you’re interested in. If lowering cost is the priority, be prepared to pick which ever variant is cheapest.

Summary: For the cheapest Garmin and maximum savings, combine all the rules

These tips aren’t mutually exclusive. Apply as many as you’re comfortable with to make a saving. The $25 priced Forerunner I applied several rules.

  • Buy refurbished
  • Buy an older model
  • Buy only the features you’ll use
  • Buy the cheapest colour variant

This deal blew my mind! I managed to find a Garmin Forerunner 305 on the American Amazon for just $25.

Cheapest Garmin GPS Watch

Have you bagged yourself a Garmin watch at an incredible price? Share your money saving tips in the comments below.

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I'm a super keen injured runner with over 20 years experience in races and endurance training. Get in touch with me over Twitter, G+ on in the comments below.

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