Is Apple's Back to School promotion worth it? How to get a cheaper device and actually save money

M3 MacBook Pro review
(Image credit: Future)

Every year Apple holds its annual Back to School promotion, and 2024 is no different. But does Apple’s Back to School offer actually save you money? Or can you find a better deal elsewhere? 

Apple’s education pricing does offer a reasonable discount on items for students, especially Macs, however Back to School only nets you a gift card that you also have to spend with Apple. Admittedly, that can be either in-store or through the App Store, so you can choose between the option of helpful software for your course, or a case for that new iPad. But wouldn’t you rather actually save money and spend the leftovers wherever you like? 

We’ve scoured all of Apple’s 2024 Back to School deals and compared them with the best deals on the market right now elsewhere. Because Back to School runs until September, you’ve got plenty of time to shop around, but even right now there are big savings to be had. Here are a few we’ve found that are definitely better than Apple’s offering, and our pick of Apple’s discounts which are worth your money. 

M2 MacBook Air 

Apple sells the M2 MacBook Air on its education site for $899, that’s the same discount as the Amazon sale price in the early Prime Day MacBook deals right now. As such, grabbing this one from Apple is a no-brainer, as you get the $150 gift card free for the same price. However, if you wait around, the M2 MacBook Air might fall back to the low price of $829, a $70 saving that would make Amazon more enticing.  

MacBook Air M2 13-inch| $999$899 at Apple

MacBook Air M2 13-inch| $999 $899 at Apple

You won't find the M2 MacBook Air cheaper than at Apple, so you might as well snag the $150 gift card and buy one from the source. 

Price checker: | $999 at Best Buy | $899 at B&H Photo

M3 MacBook Air 

Right now at Amazon, the 13-inch M3 MacBook Air is $899 too. That means you’re saving a full $200 on the regular price and $100 on Apple’s education discount price. You don’t get a $150 gift card, but you’re instead making $100 of real-term savings, and you can (or save) that cash however you like. The 15-inch model is only $70 cheaper than the Apple education price, so Apple seems like the better choice here. 

MacBook Air M3 13-inch| $1,099 $899 at Amazon

MacBook Air M3 13-inch| $1,099 $899 at Amazon

The M3 MacBook Air is considerably cheaper at Amazon than it is at Apple, even with education pricing, making this deal a much more enticing proposition.

Price checker: $999 at Apple | $1,099 at Best Buy | $1,099 at B&H Photo

M3 MacBook Pro 

For me, skipping Apple and picking up the M3 MacBook Pro from Amazon would be a no-brainer if I was still a student. The base model will set you back $1,399 rather than $1,499 from Apple’s education store. If you need powerful App Store software for your course or school, that $150 gift card might make sense here, but I’d still go for the real-term saving. 

Likewise, the M3 Pro version of the 14-inch MacBook Pro costs $1,699 at Amazon, rather than $1,849, and the 16-inch model is $100 cheaper at Amazon, $2,199 instead of $2,299. 

Only the M3 Max versions are cheaper at Apple than they are at Amazon.

MacBook Pro M3 14-inch| $1,599$1,399 at Amazon

MacBook Pro M3 14-inch| $1,599 $1,399 at Amazon

Just like the MacBook Air, the M3 and M3 Pro MacBook Pro is much cheaper at Amazon than it is at Apple's education store, saving you much more in real terms.

Price checker: $1,499 at Apple | $1,449 at Best Buy | $1,399 at B&H Photo

M2 Mac mini and M3 iMac 

The M2 Mac mini is $499 at Amazon, and $499 at Apple’s education website, making Apple’s $100 gift card offer a no-brainer. The M3 iMac is only $50 more expensive with Apple, but you get a $150 gift card, so I’d say that’s definitely worth the extra spend. 

Mac mini M2 | $599$499 at Apple

Mac mini M2 | $599 $499 at Apple

You won't find this cheaper anywhere other than Apple's education store, and you'll get $100 for the privilege when you buy one. 

Price checker: | $599 at Best Buy | $599 at B&H Photo


Thanks to generally small Amazon discounts, buying an iPad from Apple is almost always going to make more sense. The M4 iPad Pro 11-inch is $899 from Apple or $944 at Amazon. Throw in a $100 gift card and there’s no reason not to choose Cupertino here. The same goes for the 13-inch M4 iPad Pro, and the M2 iPad Air, which is cheaper in both sizes and comes with that same free gift card. 

iPad Pro M4 11-inch | $899 at Apple

iPad Pro M4 11-inch | $899 at Apple

The education discount on the iPad Pro is much better than anything you'll find at retailers, and you'll get a $100 discount when you grab one. 

Price check: $999 at Best Buy | $949 at B&H Photo | $944 at Amazon

M2 iPad Air 6 |$599$549 at Apple

M2 iPad Air 6 | $599 $549 at Apple

This might be the best iPad deal of the lot, it's the cheapest iPad Air price going, and you get the same amount of gift card value as you do the iPad Pro.

Price check: $599 at Best Buy | $599 at B&H Photo 

Shop smart with Back to School 

It’s clear then that if you're buying an iPad in the Back to School sales, Apple should be your only choice. Likewise, the desktop Mac deals are almost as good as Amazon and come with a high-value gift card which I think makes the marginal price difference worth it. Where things are trickier is in the MacBook department. Obviously, the $150 gift card is sometimes more valuable than the difference between the prices, but saving more money in real terms by buying a cheaper MacBook seems to be the better choice for me. Apple’s Back to School Promotion is always noteworthy, but as you can see, it definitely pays to shop around. 

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9