How to save money when you buy a Mac

Apple iMac playing games
Apple iMac playing games (Image credit: iMore)

If you're in the market for a new Macintosh, you might want to consider shopping at Apple's own refurbished store before you plunk down money on a brand new machine. Though you're not getting Macs straight from the assembly line, they're about as good as new, and you'll save you a lot of dough.

I am looking to purchase the retina iMac. Should I buy a refurbished one with 8 GB RAM for $1949? — P.I.

The 27-inch iMac is easily upgradeable with third-party RAM, and for less than Apple charges. It's one of the very few Macs that you can upgrade with RAM yourself, so if you can save yourself some cash that way, it's a solid bargain.

I'm a big believer in saving money by buying Macs from the Refurbished and Clearance section of Apple's own online store. I've done it for myself, and I've had my parents get one that way too.

Refurbished Macs are different than new: They're sold in "white boxes" instead of the typical Apple livery, so they don't look the same when they arrive. And the fact is they have been opened and touched by someone else. But Apple has made painstakingly sure they are functionally as good as new: I've never seen a refurbished Mac that was anything other than pristine when it arrived.

What's more, Apple sells its refurbished products with full warranties, and they're eligible for AppleCare too. You can get free shipping and free returns if there's anything you don't like, and Apple will take off hundreds of dollars.

You need to be careful to make sure you get the system you want, and sometimes you can't — not all models and options are available at all times. But if you're lucky enough to find exactly what you want—or patient enough to wait and see if it shows up—you can often get the Mac (or iPad, or iPod and other device) you need.

It's a great way to save a bunch, experiencing Apple's full warranty and coverage in the process.

Peter Cohen