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Apple superfans everywhere know that their brand alliance is a pricey endeavor—the sought-after gear rarely experiences deep price drops, even during big deals holidays. According to senior writer Nick Guy, who’s spent years covering Apple products for Wirecutter, finding great deals on Apple devices can be tricky because there just aren't substantial discounts during the first few months after they hit the shelves (though most iPads and Macs do get third-party discounts a few months after they drop).

While it’s unlikely you’ll find deals on the newest stuff, every once in a while, opportunities to score good deals on some Apple products will pop up. To help you capitalize on the rare Apple deal and come out on top, we’ve put together a full guide of everything you need to know about scoring the best prices on Apple stuff for less.

Tips for finding Apple deals

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If you're looking for deals on Macbooks, iPads, Apple Watches, or iPhones, you won’t find them at Apple’s own stores or on its website. According to Nick, our aforementioned Apple expert, discounts from the company itself are rare. When Apple does offer promotions, the deals tend to be only gift cards (instead of lower prices) when you buy products. “Even when Apple does offer cash-off deals, they’re often not substantial discounts,” Nick says. If you’re looking for bigger discounts, you’re better off with other retailers, such as Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Costco, and Sam’s Club.

You shouldn’t expect to see great Apple deals on the newest items, though, even from third-party merchants. It’s unlikely that a just-released iPhone or Apple Watch will see any discounts at all, but products that have been around a little longer are typically fair game.

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Sometimes, Apple swaps price drops for gift cards

Apple is notorious for providing gift cards instead of knocking down the price of gear for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and back-to-school promos (which is why we recommend you look elsewhere if you want Apple stuff for cheap-ish). But Apple isn’t the only retailer that runs deals like this. Walmart and Target, for instance, have offered similar gift card incentives during the holidays.

Most people would rather save money than receive a store gift card, but if you’re really interested in securing the newest iPhone (and if you happen to run into one of these deals), you might as well get a gift card out of it. The card doesn’t feel as good as scoring a low price on an iPhone, but both Target and Walmart offer a wide selection of inventory—you won’t have trouble spending the money, even if it’s on groceries for the next month.

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What about deals on refurbished Apple iPhones, iPads, and Macs?

If you see a too-good-to-be-true price on an iPhone, an iPad, or a Mac on a third-party site, Nick notes that it’s likely a refurbished unit (a device that has been returned or repaired). This can feel a little sketchy, especially for a purchase with a hefty price tag. “With the exception of refurbished products that Apple itself sells, refurbs usually have a shorter warranty than new models and no guarantee of quality,” he warns.

Buying a refurbished product directly from Apple is a safe bet, though. “Apple’s refurbished products are every bit as reliable as new ones, and almost always cosmetically indistinguishable,” Nick says. They also come with a full one-year Apple warranty and are eligible for the optional AppleCare extended warranty.

Video streaming software for mac. “Before you take advantage of a retailer’s deal on an Apple device, check out Apple’s refurbished section on its website,” Nick adds. “If the retailer’s discounted price is still considerably higher than buying the same product refurbished from Apple, it’s not a deal. Buy from the source instead.”

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How about Apple accessories?

Unsurprisingly, it’s unlikely to see deals on Apple accessories from Apple itself, but there’s always a good chance of finding discounts on cases, chargers, and AirPods through third-party retailers like Target, Walmart, Best Buy, and Costco.

About your guide

Elissa Sanci

Associate Staff Writer

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Elissa Sanci is an associate staff writer for Wirecutter, where she covers deals, consumer shopping, and personal finance. Based in Denver, she previously worked as an editorial assistant at Woman’s Day, where she wrote about everything from worthy charities to girls’ empowerment. Her byline has also appeared in Good Housekeeping and Marie Claire.

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Editorial note: The evaluations of financial products in this article are independently determined by Wirecutter and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any third party.