It’s the second most wonderful time of the year: new iPad and MacBook season! (The first obviously being new iPhone season.)
Since Apple unveiled the iPhone XS and iPhone XR in September, we’ve been waiting with bated breath for the next generation of iPad Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Mini.
Well, that day has come, and it means one thing to Penny Hoarders: deals on gently used and refurbished Apple products.
That’s right. Those of us who don’t care about having the latest and greatest tech can catch some great deals on upgrading our slow-as-molasses MacBooks and first-generation iPad Bricks.
How to Find Deals on Used Apple Laptops, iPads and More
But before you buy the first MacBook you find in an unmarked van, there are some simple but important steps you need to follow if you want to avoid the duds and get yourself a deal.
1. Know Where to Look
New Apple products are never cheap, so most people will try to sell their old models on sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or OfferUp, because it’s where they can make the most money.
If you meet a seller one-on-one, always meet in a public place, like a police station or Starbucks. You should feel safe, and there should be other people around.
You can find deals at pawn shops or online trade-in shops like Gazelle. If you want to buy from Apple, you’ll start to notice newer models on its “certified refurbished” page. As of this writing, you can find refurbished MacBook Air models made as recently as June 2017.
2. Research the Product You Want
There’s no store associate to guide your Craigslist journey. You’ll need to do your own research on what you want, what you don’t need and what’s a fair price for it.
Ultimately, you’ll probably have to be a little flexible on your desired specs if you want the best deal. But who knows, you could get lucky.
3. Test It Out
This is the single most important part of buying used or refurbished Apple products. On sites like Facebook Marketplace, you should always try before you buy. If you’re buying online, always get a warranty and try all these features ASAP:
- Turn the device on and off.
- Test the camera.
- Test the sound.
- Test internet connectivity and browsing.
- Test the ports with a USB drive, headphones, etc.
- Check out the tightness of the hinge.
You’ll also want to make sure the model and specs listed are accurate by checking the serial number on the product.
4. Make a Call (or Two)
Give Apple a call to see if the product you’re buying is refurbished or has been reported stolen. You’ll find suggestions online to call Apple store customer service at 800-676-2775 to find out if your product is refurbished.
When I tried it with a laptop I purchased recently, the customer service representative couldn’t answer my question, but he was able to talk to someone who could confirm my laptop wasn’t refurbished. So be persistent, even if the first person you talk to doesn’t know what you want.
You may also want to call the local police station to make sure the serial number doesn’t match with an item that’s been reported stolen.
5. Make Sure the Product Is Restored and Removed From Account
Once you’ve decided you want to buy the product, it’s your responsibility to make sure the product is restored to factory settings.
If you’re purchasing an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or even an iPod Touch, you’ll also need to make sure the seller removes the product from their Apple account so that you’ll be able to add it to yours.
6. Don’t Bring Cash
And finally, never bring big wads of cash to a one-on-one sale. If you’re buying anything that costs more than a couple hundred dollars, get a free money order from Amscot.
Pro tip: If you want to negotiate the price, get multiple money orders so you’re not tied down to the asking price.
Jen Smith is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She gives money-saving and debt-payoff tips on Instagram at @savingwithspunk.
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This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.