The continued popularity of full-size trucks in America has fueled the latest must-have accessory: truck bed cameras.
Given that full-size pickup trucks are the most stolen vehicles in the United States, it is no surprise that thieves also relish the easy "snatch and grab" of tools and supplies from truck beds. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, cargo theft losses are difficult to quantify but could range anywhere from $3.5 billion to $10 billion annually across the United States.
If your vehicle doesn’t have a lockable metal bed cover, a cargo camera makes all the sense in the world. But where would you look?
Looking for a Cargo Cam? Read This
If you drive a truck, it may do you and your wallet some good to spring for some tech to protect your vehicle and what’s inside of it.
In this article, we'll cover some options for cargo cameras as well as get some sage advice from money expert Clark Howard on how to save when shopping.
Truck Bed Camera Options
With a little research, Team Clark found a couple of options for truck bed cameras. One of them is the Ring Car Cam, which was listed at $249.99 in January 2024.
Features of the Ring Car Cam include:
- LTE connectivity
- Real-time alerts
- Two-Way Talk and more
Another is the Nextbase – 320XR Dash Cam with Rear Window Camera going for $149.99 as of this writing. Although it rates 4 out of 5 stars, be forewarned that the reviews from Best Buy's website are not all that great (which makes Clark's advice at the bottom of this article all the more important).
Features of the Nextbase Dash Cam include:
- A G-sensor (which measures the speed of an object within view).
- All-vehicle compatibility
- 1920×1080 video resolution
Another option is a rear-facing dash cam, which many manufacturers now make. Please note that mounting one of these may not be as simple as it seems, according to some reviews I've read.
Before you buy a truck bed camera, Clark wants you to do all you can to see if you can save money on your purchase.
How To Shop for a Truck Bed Camera
1. Read the Reviews
After you know what you’re looking for, among your first orders of business is to read up on the camera. What are its specifications? How long does the battery last? How much does the data plan cost (yes, many dash cams and truck bed cameras require a data plan for storage, alerts and other things)?
Some places you can find customer feedback include:
- The manufacturer's website
- The retailer's website – Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart and the like all have customer ratings and reviews on their respective sites.
- Trustpilot.com – Not familiar with the site? Read our Trustpilot review.
- The Better Business Bureau – Read up on how to use bbb.org.
After you’ve read up on what other customers are saying, it’s time to decide whether to buy or not.
2. Comparison Shop
"The price tracker tool Camelcamelcamel is great to track prices on anything from Amazon, especially electronics," she says. "Using this tool, you can see how much an item has been at Amazon, and probably at other retailers too since other online sellers may try to price-match Amazon and vice versa."
When you go online — retailer to retailer — and compare the different prices of specific cameras online, you’ll be able to see what’s truly a deal and what’s not.
3. Don’t Buy ‘Top of the Line’
“When you go to buy electronics, don’t buy the top of the line,” Clark says. “Buying a fancy dancy version of something that will soon be outdated is spending unnecessarily. Think about the selling cycles we’ve seen over the years with HDTVs, cell phones and laptops, how much they’ve come down in price over the years.”
Instead of buying the latest and greatest camera, Clark suggests getting something serviceable that will actually be worth the money you spend. If there’s a huge update a year or so down the line, you won’t feel so bad about buying a newer model.
Because truck bed cameras are still relatively new to the market, be aware that buying the latest and the greatest model often is not the best deal.
Clark doesn’t want you to overspend, and the way new electronics go obsolete these days, he’s a big proponent of waiting for the second- or third-generation of a new tech or gadget to arrive before he buys it.
With that being said, if you happen to find a great deal, you just might want to snag it — before someone snags anything out of your truck.