The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money When Buying a Mac

The writers here at Maciverse are unapologetic about our affection of all things Apple.  And while we love buying the latest and greatest that Apple has to offer, we all know full well that it is indeed an expensive love affair.  Part of the mystique of Apple products is that the price points are set to exude a high-end, exclusive feeling.  Deals, sales, clearances, and blowouts don’t help a brand build an identity around exclusivity, so it can be tough finding ways to save money on your Mac purchase.

This aura of exclusivity has not deterred us, however, from digging around to find you the absolute best ways to save money when buying a Mac.  Below is our outline of ways to ‘never pay retail’ for a Mac.

Apple in Education Program

Are you or any of your family members a teacher?  Student?  Education faculty member?  If so, you qualify for one of the easiest ways to save money with Apple – the Apple in Education program.  Apple’s discounts in this program seem to run around 10%, so when we are looking at $1000+ products, these savings can be a significant dollar value!

I would imagine that a large percentage of the population either qualify for this program or have family members that do. If so, its a no-brainer to go through this to buy your Mac. Go to the Apple in Education program page and punch in your affiliated school or school system to see the savings available to you.


macbook proApple Rebates are another powerful option for saving money on your Mac.  At the time of this being published, The Apple Rebates page shows 2 great deals:

  1. Buy a Mac for college, and get a free iPod touch.
  2. Get up to $100 back on a printer.

These rebates alone are pretty nice, right?  You can get a free iPod touch and basically a free printer?  The thing is, you probably don’t need those.  So, lets instead look at how using rebates in conjunction with the Apple in Education Program could result in big savings.  For this example we’ll look at buying a MacBook Pro 13-inch: 2.4GHz.

The retail price on this laptop $1,199.  If we go through the ‘Apple in Education’ program, it brings it down to $1,099, an immediate savings of $100.  But lets not stop there, this is where the fun begins.  Lets start stacking that deal with these available rebates.  Since we are buying a Mac using the education program, we obviously qualify for the free iPod touch (just because Mac says its for college, does not mean its only for college – the deal works for any student, teacher or faculty member at any level).  And you probably don’t need that iPod touch, right? A quick check on eBay shows that these sell easily for $150, so lets sell that bad boy.  Lets factor in $10 for shipping… so our price point for the MacBook is now effectively $1,099 – $140 = $959, a savings of $240 off of the MSRP.

But why stop there?  There is still that other juicy rebate that Mac has to offer:  $100 back on a printer.  Oh, what, you don’t need a printer?  Doesn’t matter.  Review the list of printers that qualify and focus on the cheapest ones on the list…. there are a bunch that sell for right around $100.  Now, look at what those printers sell for, brand new, on eBay.  I looked at the Canon PIXMA MP490 Photo All-in-One which sells for around $60 on eBay.  You probably get the idea now.  We buy this, cash in our rebate, and sell the printer (and factor in another $10 for shipping).  This puts our MacBook Pro price at $959 – $50 = $909.

By stacking two rebates and the ‘Apple in Education’ program, we bought a $1,199 MacBook Pro for $909.  Thats a savings of $290, or 24%!

By the time you read this, the rebates or deals may change.  Don’t let that discourage you… though the deals may be different, there are always opportunities to stack savings together.  While we have never come across an Apple or Mac coupon code for checking out on their store, they almost always have rebates that can save you a lot of money.

Refurbished Macs

Apple has a section on their website that lists refurbished products.  This section is available on both the general store as well as the ‘Apple in Education’ store.  While the deals are great in both, obviously the education pricing is a good bit lower than the general store.

Buying a Mac that has been refurbished by Apple is really not that big of a deal.  At worst, somehow some hardware was screwed up or broken and an Apple engineer has fixed it.  At best, someone bought a Mac and then quickly decided that it wasn’t right for them and shipped it back.  Either way, it really isn’t a huge deal at all.

If the product did happen to be in bad shape despite rigorous testing from Mac, it does come with a 1-year warranty, so no worries!  If it was gonna break from being a refurbished machine, that would likely happen in the first year.

The only downside to buying refurbished is that you may lose out on opportunities to get the rebates.  In the example above, you would not qualify for the free iPod touch but you would quality for the printer rebate.  Make sure you read the fine print on the rebates before jumping to conclusions.

Ebay & Craigslist

The methods described above focus on buying your Mac directly through Apple.  If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, however, you can certainly see what other people are selling on eBay and Craigslist.  A number of my friends have had success in both buying and selling Mac’s on these sites.  While I’m not aware of any horror stories, the standard rules for protecting yourself would apply here.

As I noted in my previous post on selling a used Macbook, a MacBook that is 18 months old should cost roughly 40% less than the original sale price.  Keep this in mind as a rule of thumb when reviewing the pricing of the various listings.  This rule can help ensure that you don’t overpay and can also help you spot deals that you should jump on right away.  Just remember, if anything about the deal seems fishy at all, run the other way and don’t look back.

Final Thoughts

There are clearly many ways to save a lot of money on Apple products.  Does that mean that you can get a MacBook for super cheap?  Usually not.  The starting price is high, so saving big doesn’t necessarily mean the end price will be ‘cheap’.  But, with work and effort, the savings can be a substantial percentage of the overall price.

Do you have any good tips on buying a Mac?  Score a sweat deal on a used or refurbished machine?  Let us know in the comments.