Apple’s computers and phones have a reputation for being expensive. While it’s true that their products are all high end (and priced accordingly), they’re rarely objectively overpriced (dongles and other accessories aside). But if you want to pinch a few pennies, there are still ways to save money on Apple products.
You’re never going to buy a brand new Mac for a price anyone would call cheap—Apple products are always in high demand, and fetch pretty high prices even on the used market. But you can at least keep a bit of extra cash in your pocket if you know where (and when) to look.
Apple has a great refurbished program. If an Apple device is returned for any reason—and not smashed to bits—they completely refurbish it and put it up for sale at a discount online. You can save between about 15-20% off the cost of a brand new model, for an almost indistinguishable product. This isn’t like buying used; any refurbished product you buy from Apple goes through rigorous testing and comes with the same one year warranty. You can even sign up for AppleCare, if you want longer-lasting protection.
The biggest problem with buying refurbished is that there are only a limited selection of devices for sale at any given time. It just depends on what’s been returned. Right now, for example, the most recent iPhone you can buy though the program is the 6S. The selection is a bit better with Macs, but there’s still not the same level of choice you get if you buy new or used.
As long as you can find what you’re looking for, buying a refurbished product straight from Apple works great. I’ve done it myself and recommend it wholeheartedly.
If the refurbished prices are still too high for you, it’s time to take a step down into the used market. Buying used will always get you the best possible price on a product, and Apple products are no exception. If you’re prepared to do a bit of legwork, you might be able to get a great deal.
There is one small wrinkle here: Apple products hold their resale value a lot better than most other electronics. On Swappa, you can buy a used SIM-free iPhone 6S with 32GB of storage for between $260 and $300, compared to a brand new one for $449 from Apple (or a refurbished one somewhere in between those two numbers, if and when it’s available). So while you’ll save money, the discounts won’t be nearly as insane as, say, Windows laptops or gaming accessories.
In addition, while you’re saving a fair amount of cash, you’re losing out on the warranty and other benefits that come with having a new phone. So buying used can certainly save you money, you just need to make sure that you’re saving enough that it’s worth it. Make sure to check how much of a discount you’re getting before agreeing to any deal.
Buy While You Travel
Apple doesn’t have one set price around the world. It changes based on the exchange rate, local taxes, what people are prepared to pay, and a host of other factors. This means that if you’re travelling, you might save a bit of cash by picking up a new iPhone while you’re away.
AppleCompass is a service that enables you to work out where the cheapest place in the world is for you to buy any Apple product. Ireland is pretty expensive, so I can save quite a bit of money if I buy while I’m visiting friends in the United States, especially if I do so in a state with little or no sales tax. Just make sure there aren’t any serious differences between your country’s product and the version in the country you’re visiting (like keyboard layouts on a Mac).
While you won’t always save money buying while you travel, it’s worth taking a look if you’re planning a big purchase. If you’ve got family in New Hampshire, it might be worth your while to sync up your Mac-buying with your next visit.
Use the Education Discount
Apple offers an education discount on Macs and iPads to college students, faculty members and teachers. It’s not a huge amount (you can save $50 to $100 on a new MacBook Pro, for example), but it’s something. You’ll need some proof that you’re in education (or work in education), but you can also fake it by pretending to buy a Mac for your cousin, neighbor, or anyone else you know who has a student card.
Buy During the Back to School Promotion
Apple doesn’t really do sales, but they have one reliable sale during the year: the Back to School Promotion every August and September. On top of the education discount mentioned above, Apple throws in extra incentives like free Beats headphones. You won’t save much more money, but you get extra free stuff that you could sell for cash if you wanted.
Look for Sales Elsewhere
While Apple doesn’t do sales, that doesn’t mean that other stores don’t do them. This year, for example, Target, Best Buy, and Walmart are all offering deals on Apple products during Black Friday. They range from discounts—$120 off an iPad Pro at Target—to free gift cards—$300 gift card with an iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus or X at Walmart.
These sales are obviously seasonal and what discounts you’ll get and where will change throughout the year. As long as you don’t need a new phone right at that moment, it might be worth holding out a few months to see if anywhere offers a discount for some event.
Consider Apple’s Upgrade Program If You’re Buying an iPhone
Our sister site Review Geek took a deep look at Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program and came away impressed—as long as you want AppleCare+ and to upgrade to the latest model every year. The difference is that instead of paying all in one go, your payments are spread out monthly. While this doesn’t strictly save you money, many people find it a lot easier to pay out $34.50 a month, rather than plonk down $700 in one go.
While you’re never going to buy a cheap iPhone X (unless it’s “fallen off the back of a truck,” which we don’t recommend), you can save money on most Apple products as long as you’re prepared to jump through a hoop or two. It’s not quite the easy experience of walking into an Apple Store with a credit card in your hand, but it’s not too difficult either.