Apple’s Mac computers are powerful and well-built machines, but they are not cheap. If you’re looking to save hundreds of dollars on your next Mac purchase, then keep reading. We’ll go over 12 methods you’ll want to keep in mind whenever you go Mac shopping to ensure you’re getting the best price.
Method 1: Check Current Prices with AppleInsider
While Apple sells Macs on their website and in stores at the retail price they set, other retailers can offer discounts. AppleInsider’s Mac Price Guide is a super easy way to quickly check if there are discounts offered by popular electronics retailers, including Adorama, Amazon, and B&H.
This list of models is pretty exhaustive, and includes various upgrade configurations as well, most of which are not offered by other retailers as they tend to stick to the more common stock models. Still, this is a good way to see at-a-glance whether some sales are currently going on.
Method 2: Check Past Deals with Slickdeals
If the Mac you’re looking to buy has been out for a while, chances are it’s been discounted a few times already. I like to use Slickdeals to search for the product and look at
the history of how often something’s been on sale and for how much. That way, I can quickly see if there’s a pattern of frequent discounts. Also, I don’t like the feeling of overpaying; if the Mac mini is currently $600 and I see that it was on sale last month for $500, I’ll probably wait for it to go on sale again before buying.
Of course, you should check for any current deals on the item as well, but the deal history can be a useful indicator of whether the current price is a good one.
Method 3: Costco and 90-Day Returns
One store that always discounts the Mac is Costco. When there isn’t a sale going on, the regular price at Costco is $20 less than the Apple retail price. That means when there is a sale going on, the listed discount amount is actually $20 less than the actual savings.
If a Mac isn’t on sale elsewhere, you can check if Costco has it for a slight discount. Some caveats are that Costco only carries the stock models, and the store requires a membership. However, if you do shop at Costco, then you’ll be able to take advantage of the 90-day return policy on electronics, which gives you plenty of time to test out the Mac and see if the amount of memory and storage are enough, and return it for something else if it doesn’t work out.
Method 4: Tax-Free with B&H Photo Video
Because Macs are quite expensive, the amount of sales tax you’ll need to pay can also be a lot, especially if you live in an area with over 10% sales tax. B&H Photo Video is a prominent electronics retailer that sells photo and video equipment, but also Mac computers. They also offer a credit card that eliminates the sales tax from your purchase, which means you can save quite a bit of money. If you frequently buy electronics, consider getting the B&H credit card to save on taxes regularly.
The downside to B&H is that they often take a long time before certain new products come in stock, and the return policy isn’t as flexible. Not that the return process is hard; I’ve used it several times smoothly without an issue, but certain situations may have a restocking fee, and some items are nonreturnable for a refund, including “opened computers”. So only buy a Mac from them if you are sure you will keep it.
Here’s a bonus tip: if you place a pickup order, for example at a physical Apple Store, instead of getting it shipped to you, you’ll be charged the sales tax of the pickup location. That means if you live in an area with a lower tax rate, getting it shipped will save you some money versus pickup, since most stores will be in larger cities. But also if you have several stores around you that have different sales tax rates, pick the lower rate one to shop at.
Method 5: Education Discounts
Apple, and some other stores, offer education discounts for students, teachers, staff, and parents of students. These discounts are generally around 10%, for example, $100 off the MacBook Air, or $200 off the Mac Studio. The Mac mini’s $100 discount from the $600 starting price makes it a 16.7% discount, but only off the base price. For upgrades, it is a 10% discount across the board. That means it could actually save you more than the flat $ discounts that are often advertised for some upgraded configurations elsewhere, which aren’t actually discounting the upgrades at all.
Depending on your location, the education discount can be as simple to redeem as ordering it from Apple’s Education Store website, with no further proof of school enrollment required.
Method 6: Corporate Discounts
If you don’t quality for an education discount, check if your company gives you access to corporate perks programs, such as Perks at Work or Working Advantage. If so, there’s usually a link to access the Employee Purchase Plan version of the Apple Store, which has some discounted prices as well. The discount amounts are generally between 2-10% depending on the item, with Macs usually around 6%, less than the education store, and not all products offer a discount.
Method 7: Apple Refurbished
The final way that the Apple Store provides discounts is through the Refurbished Store. Refurbished items are those that been returned, but Apple has cleaned them up, fixed any issues, and repackaged them to basically look like new. You even get the same 1-year Apple warranty on refurbs. The only difference is the packaging box it comes in, so it may not be suitable for giving as a gift, unless they’re a close friend or family member who loves a great deal just like you.
Method 8: Buy and Sell Used
Besides refurbished, you can also save some money if you buy a used Mac, such as on eBay. Apple products tend to hold their resale value better than other brands, so the savings may not be as much as you would expect, but conversely it helps if you are the one selling.
If you’re upgrading your computer or any electronics, be sure to sell your old one to offset the cost of the new purchase. And if you aren’t sure how much to sell it for, you can estimate the value on sites like Mac2Sell, but it’s always best to check the market price yourself, or just put it up for auction and let it run.
Method 9: Apple Card for 3% CB or Installments
If you shop at the Apple Store frequently, consider getting the Apple Card credit card, which gives you 3% cash back on Apple purchases. Most general credit cards only offer up to 2% cash back, so it might only be an extra 1% savings. You also need to have an iPhone or iPad in order to fully use all the features of the Apple Card, so you’ll need to be invested in the Apple ecosystem.
The other benefit of the Apple Card is that you can choose to pay for your Mac purchased from Apple with Monthly Installments. The final amount you pay won’t really be different (minus rounding errors in your favor to save a few cents or a dollar), but the fact that it is spread out over a year means you can hold onto your money longer, using it to pay for other things, or keeping it invested and growing over that time.
Method 10: Discounted Apple Gift Cards
Many years back, Apple merged their iTunes and App Store gift cards with their retail store gift cards, and now just have a singular Apple Gift Card to pay for anything at Apple, whether physical or digital. This simplified things a lot, and also makes it possible for you to get a discount on anything if you get gift cards at a discounted price.
Apple Gift Cards regularly go on sale at other retailers through promotions, and you may also be able to find them at up to 10% off on credit card reward programs as well. If you know you’ll be making a big Apple Store purchase soon, you can stock up on discounted gift cards to get an advantage. However, the downsides are 1) spending on gift cards too early and keeping a large balance, and 2) not being able to use gift cards simultaneously with Apple Card Installment Payments.
Method 11: Cash-Back Portals
Since a Mac computer is a large purchase, you’ll also want to check if there are cash-back portals that offer a percentage of the price back as rewards, depending on where you shop. There are numerous such portals, and I won’t get into details here on specific ones. Generally, the cash-back amounts won’t be huge and thus should be considered as a bonus AFTER you’ve decided where to shop, unless there is some sort of special promotion going on that can give 10-15% back, but that rarely happens at places that sell Mac computers.
Method 12: Cash-Back Credit Cards
And finally, when you do buy a Mac, don’t forget to bring out your cash-back credit card. If you’re shopping at a specific store with their own rewards credit card, you can be saving 3-10%, such as Amazon’s 5% with Prime, or B&H’s sales tax savings. Otherwise, the best you’ll probably be able to do generally is 2% without an annual fee, or 5% for those rotating reward category cards if a store like Target or Walmart lines up. Still, every little bit adds up, and this is after all of the other discounts mentioned previously.