Apple’s MacBook laptops are known for their excellent build quality, but buying one can feel frustrating, even when you’ve finally decided which model to get, so we’ve compiled a list of the best places to buy a MacBook.
Macs used to be niche, but now you can find them at dozens of retailers, each of which has its own set of pros and cons. Are you looking for a deal? Do you care about buying your MacBook refurbished? Is it better to use a third-party store or buy a MacBook directly from Apple?
We’ve broken down all of the best places to buy a MacBook for your convenience, and will continually update these guides as stores update their policies.
It shouldn’t surprise you that your journey to buy a MacBook should start at Apple. Getting a MacBook directly from the company has four major benefits compared to other stores.
The first is that you can take advantage of Apple’s trade-in program, wherein the company will give you credit toward your new machine in exchange for your old one. The amount you get will depend on the age and condition of your machine, but Apple makes it very easy to take advantage of this program. Apple will send you a box with a prepaid shipping label, and you have a two-week period to send in your old computer. Apple will accept old iPhones and iPads in exchange for credit, so if you have a junk drawer full of older Apple gear, there’s a chance that you’ll score a major discount toward your new MacBook by trading it all in. Find out more about how to recycle electronics.
The second advantage of buying a MacBook through Apple is its education discount program. Current students and teachers will receive a discount of roughly 10 percent on a MacBook — the actual amount of the discount depends on the model you buy. One of the nice perks of using the Apple education discount is that you’ll also pay less for optional upgrades (more memory, additional storage, a faster processor etc.), which is great if you have specific needs for your machine.
The third reason we recommend getting a MacBook at the Apple store is the option to sign up for AppleCare, an optional insurance policy that covers some or all of the repair cost if something goes wrong with your MacBook. One year of AppleCare on a MacBook costs $69.99, but you can get three years for $199, which is a slight discount. Here’s a handy guide on what AppleCare does and doesn’t cover.
Finally, one of the hidden perks of buying a MacBook directly from Apple is taking advantage of the refurbished section of its store. Apple guarantees the machine you get will be in like-new condition, and includes a one-year warranty. The discount is typically identical to the one offered to students and teachers, but everyone can take advantage of them. One neat feature of the Apple refurbished store — which includes iPhones and iPads, too — is that it sometimes includes custom configurations of MacBooks that are backordered from Apple’s site. By buying refurbished, you may be able to get the MacBook you want faster and for less money. Learn more about how we gauge sustainability.
Amazon bills itself as the “Everything Store,” which of course includes MacBooks. That wasn’t always true, though, and for several years all of the MacBooks on Amazon were offered by third-party sellers. Third-party sellers on Amazon don’t always offer the same level of customer service or honor the same return policy as gear sold directly from Amazon. You can tell whether a good is sold by Amazon or a third-party seller by looking at the “Ships By” and “Sold By” area, which is just below the “Buy Now” button on each product page.
Buying a MacBook on Amazon comes with all the perks the site offers for millions of other products: Free, fast shipping for Prime members, a generous, 30-day return policy, and discounts available to all shoppers. Apple itself never throws sales or offers discounts — which is what makes its refurbished store so valuable — but Amazon doesn’t have that rule. Most of the time, Amazon’s discounts are automatically applied, but occasionally you’ll need to “clip” a coupon. Amazon’s coupons can be found on a product’s page, and require you to click a checkbox to redeem them.
If you regularly shop on Amazon, buying a MacBook or MacBook Pro will be identical to making any other purchase. We’re especially keen on recommending Amazon for MacBook purchasers who have Amazon Prime, which guarantees you’ll get your new computer as quickly as possible. Explore more options in our guide to the best laptops.
Of all the big-box retailers that sell MacBooks, we’re inclined to recommend Best Buy over the rest.
The store offers regular discounts on MacBooks that match Amazon’s lowest prices, and is the best at keeping Apple gear in stock during busy shopping seasons. At many points last year, Best Buy was the only place to get a MacBook without waiting several weeks. Best Buy also has the benefit of offering same-day pickup for shoppers who want to drive to their local store to pick up a MacBook instead of waiting for it to be shipped. You have the same option at an Apple Store, but Best Buy has far more locations in the U.S., which makes this choice more reasonable.
Best Buy also offers a trade-in program, which will give you store credit for non-Apple devices. If you’re thinking of switching from a PC to a Mac, or have a spare Android phone laying around, you may be able to use them to help finance your new MacBook. Again, the amount of store credit Best Buy offers will depend on the age and condition of your device, but a little money is better than nothing, and could add up if you have several devices.
This store also offers its own protection plan called Best Buy Total Tech, which costs $200 annually and includes 24/7 tech support, two years of product protection, and free delivery and product setup. If you’re the type of shopper who likes to go into a store, play around with the device you’re shopping for, and ask an employee about your options, Best Buy is the place to buy your MacBook.
B&H is a New York City-based retailer that may not be as well known as Amazon and Best Buy, but that’s the main reason we’re recommending it.
Because fewer people know about the store, there’s a chance that B&H will have MacBook models in stock that other retailers don’t have. B&H also carries custom configurations of MacBooks — versions of the laptop with more memory, additional storage, or faster processors — so you won’t have to wait for Apple to order a custom build for you. We’ve had a lot of success placing orders from B&H, which offers fast, free shipping on orders over $49. Like many retailers, B&H will discount MacBooks on occasion, so look out for a good deal. Here’s a full MacBook Pro 2021 review.
If you live in New York City, or the surrounding area, you can also order a MacBook for in-store pickup and skip shipping altogether. B&H is an officially authorized Apple reseller, which allows it to offer you AppleCare+ at the time of purchase. B&H also offers protection plans from AllState, which covers most of the same problems as AppleCare+ to the tune of $289 for two years of coverage and $449 for three.
Finally, B&H allows you to trade-in your older tech for store credit, which can be applied toward your MacBook Purchase. As always, the amount that B&H offers you in credit will depend on the device you’re trading in and its condition. You can also manage your MacBook better with a SetApp subscription.
Shopping for a MacBook on eBay is the best way to score a deal, but it also carries the greatest amount of risk, especially if you’re not used to making purchases on the auction site.
Searching for the term “MacBook” on eBay brings up over 26,000 results, with models ranging from the ones Apple released last year, to vintage models from the mid- to late 2000s. You’ll want to do your research before shopping for a MacBook on eBay to know exactly which model you’re looking for to avoid getting burned. For the best possible results, we recommend typing the year 2021 into your search query. Once you’ve found an eBay listing for the MacBook model you’re interested in, you’ll either have to continually bid on the auction, or use the “buy it now” button, which allows you to purchase the MacBook you want at a pre-set price.
Buying tech on eBay can be stressful if you choose to engage in auctions, because bids are taken up to the last second. It’s entirely possible for someone to outbid you at the last moment, a move known as “sniping.” This can be especially. frustrating if you’ve watched the auction for several days. Still, eBay auctions are a good way to get a MacBook at a great price, provided you take your time to research the model you’re looking for, and how eBay works in general. If you’re interested in selling your old tech — or anything else — to help fund the purchase of a MacBook, eBay is the best way to get the highest-possible price. That said, you’re on the hook for packaging, shipping, and tracking your outgoing packages.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.