Apple makes the best laptops on the planet. Unfortunately, they are also among the most expensive on the market. If you want a new computer and want to save some money, buy a refurbished MacBook. You might even find a current 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020), MacBook Air (M1, 2020), or another best MacBook model. Before doing so, there are some important points to consider, however.
What does refurbished mean?
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It shouldn't be difficult to tell the difference between used and refurbished MacBooks. Unfortunately, some online vendors like to blur the line between the two, so you need to be careful.
Refurbished MacBooks are put through various tests before being offered for sale. Reputable vendors are clear upfront about what these tests involve, so there is no question whether these products are ready to go when they're purchased.
Every day used MacBooks can be just as good as those which are refurbished. However, there are no guarantees this is the case. When buying a used product, it's likely the seller is an individual, not a company. In this case, ideally, you should stick with a website like eBay when purchasing to ensure better the seller has a positive reputation.
If you want to buy a refurbished MacBook, we recommend limiting your search to four online vendors in 2021: Apple, Amazon, Best Buy, and OWC.
Though its quantity is usually limited and it sells out quickly, Apple offers certified refurbished products (opens in new tab) on its website. One reason you might want to consider Apple over all others: every product sold comes with a one-year warranty just like brand new Apple devices, as well as 90 days of free technical support. Better still, you can add AppleCare+ protection to extend the coverage for a limited time after purchase.
Apple's refurbished store includes late-model products only, and every purchase comes with a 14-day return policy if you aren't happy. Each MacBook ships in a clean white box with the necessary accessories.
The largest online retailer globally has long established itself as the place to go for refurbished electronics. Each product sold is packed by its Amazon Renewed Guarantee (opens in new tab), which allows you to return it within 90 days of receipt of your original purchase.
Refurbished MacBooks on the Amazon website are not Apple Certified, but they have been professionally inspected, tested, and cleaned by Amazon-qualified suppliers.
Amazon's listings of refurbished MacBooks is lengthier than Apple's since it includes late- and older-model devices. Though this mixture tends to lower the price points, it's important to read the fine print before purchasing and check a machine's age, RAM and storage.
This retailer divides its refurbished inventory (opens in new tab) into three types: manufacturer certified, certified, and just plain refurbished. The first type of product has been tested and certified by the original manufacturer, who guarantees it's in working order and free from all but minor visual flaws. Certified products are tested by Best Buy and work just as a brand new version would. Finally, refurbished products are offered by Best Buy through third parties. Though it doesn't do the testing, Best Buy claims only "Grade A" inventory is offered through its stores with a cosmetic condition rating of 9/10 or better.
Best Buy also offers open-box items, which are items recently returned by a customer. These products should be in regular working order, although they haven't been certified. Still, all four types of products are covered by the company's standard return policy, which is extended if you're a Best Buy Elite or Elite Plus member.
Through its Mac Sales web shop (opens in new tab), OWC offers Macs examined by Apple Certified Technicians. Each purchase comes with a 14-day money-back guarantee, and you can add up to two years of extended service protection. Additionally, OWC offers current and older models with various configurations.
Questions or thoughts?
Let us know if you have any questions or concerns about buying a refurbished Mac by leaving a comment below. We'll try to get back to you soon.
Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.
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