MacBooks and iMacs are expensive. If you get a refurbished model, you could save 40% – or thereabouts. But is it a good idea to buy a refurbished MacBook or iMac?
The iMac I’m writing this post on, for instance, is over six years old. But it still runs great.
My Huawei Windows 10 laptop, on the other hand, is falling to bits and that machine is only two years old.
I’m a big fan of MacBooks and iMacs, as you probably already gathered.
But what I am an even bigger fan of is buying refurbished MacBooks and iMacs.
Because it saves me a ton of money. And, as a tech journalist, that is always something I’m looking to do.
I don’t need the latest and greatest processor, or crazy amounts of RAM, so, for me, a MacBook Pro that is a couple of years old is more than enough.
And you can get some killer deals on a refurbished MacBook Pro too, providing you are cool with using a slightly older model – say 2018 or 2019.
So, is a refurbished MacBook worth it? Hell yes. If you just need a reliable laptop, something you can run for years at a time, and you don’t want to pay full price for a MacBook, then buying one refurbished is a complete no brainer.
I bought my first refurbished MacBook Pro way back in 2015 and it still works great today. I bought my iMac new, on finance, but when the time comes to upgrade that I will almost certainly replace it with a refurbished model.
But one thing to keep in mind, it may be best to avoid MacBooks that had the terrible Butterfly keyboard.
Best Place To Buy Refurbished MacBooks?
If you’re looking at picking up a refurbished MacBook or iMac, our #1 recommendation right now is Gazelle – you could save over 40% on your machine versus going through Apple’s official store.
- 40% Cheaper Than Apple’s Program
- All Macs Pass Through Extensive Testing Before They’re Sold
- All MacBooks & iMacs are “Certified Refurbished” Units
- You Have Full Warranty & 30 Day Returns Policy
- View All Gazelle iMac & MacBook Offers
I’ve had two Apple computers through Gazelle, and one iPhone, during the past three years.
Did I have any issues with any of them?
Nope; they all looked and worked as good as new.
Why pay full price for an iMac/MacBook when you can get a refurbished unit that looks and works as good as new (for a fraction of the cost)!?
Example Deal: MacBook Pro 2018
This is the type of deal you can get when you buy a MacBook Pro refurbished. As you can see, you’re paying way less than normal but still getting a massively potent machine.
MacBook Pro 2018 Model – $1931.99
This 2018 MacBook Pro costs $2799.99 new. But via Gazelle, you can get it for $1931.99 – or from just $121 a month
Nowadays, whenever I need to update my laptop or iMac, or even my phone, Gazelle is the first place I look for deals. It’s 40% cheaper and ALL items are rigorously tested and vetted before they’re resold, so you know you’re getting a quality machine.
Going the refurbished MacBook route solves this, however, as you can pick up an ultra-powerful machine, say 2017’s MacBook Pro, for way less than it’d cost to buy new from Apple or second-hand from a reseller on eBay or Craig’s List.
What Does Refurbished ACTUALLY Mean?
First things first, we need to say that refurbished is not the same as second hand or resold. Resold is basically just someone selling an item on again, with all the problems that come with that.
Refurbished on the other hand means that the MacBook you’re looking at was sent back to Apple to be looked by a professional because of a minor issue, or because it was no longer wanted.
The long and short of it, however, is this: buying a refurbished Mac, iPad or iMac will save you a fortune versus buying a brand new model. Yes, it’s been used before. But so what? It will still look and feel brand new – and, besides, no one but you has to know anyway.
It works the same way it does with cars, in that you can bankrupt yourself with huge repayments on a motor you can’t afford, waste money leasing or, go the savvy route, and buy pre-owned. That way you get it for a lot less, its actually yours, and, in some cases, you can buy it outright.
Why Should I Buy A Refurbished Mac?
Refurbished Macs are more often than not, models that have been returned from the previous year or current models that are reconditioned.
A reconditioned Mac is one that was sold to a customer who subsequently decided to return it, or one that Apple used as a demonstration model.
If there’s one thing to say right now, it’s that Macs bought from the Refurbished Store are not noticeably different from brand new ones. They’re all cleaned, tested, checked and checked again so there shouldn’t be any problems.
One of the best places to buy reconditioned MacBooks and Macs is Mac of All Trades – they also do iPads as well.
Mac Mall is another great place to shop for MacBooks, iPads and even PCs.
How Much Money Can I Normally Save?
As noted earlier, Gazelle offers 40% savings on ALL products versus its competition. This is why I have constantly used and recommended it as the #1 place to buy refurbished MacBooks, iPhones, and iPads over the years.
This approach is something I have done a few times over the years, as I don’t really like paying top dollar for new hardware. I much prefer getting a flagship iMac or MacBook that is a year or so old, as it fits my needs and costs me a lot less money. Obviously, whether this approach will work for you will depend largely on your needs.
I need a fair bit of grunt for video and image editing, but nothing too fancy, so older, high-spec models are perfect for me, as they have decent specs and hardware and cost around the same as a mid-level, new setup.
What Do I Need To Check Before I Buy?
If you decide to go the C2C route, meaning you’re buying it from someone online via an auction site like eBay, you have to check a lot of things before you buy since it is tricky to return a product once you’ve bought it on sites like eBay and Craig’s List.
My general rule of thumb when buying from places like this, looks a little something like this:
- Check Seller’s Rating
- Do They Have Pictures?
- Does Deal Sound Too Good To Be True?
- Is The Price Too Low?
- Does The Seller Respond To Your Questions?
Sounds like a lot of work, right? It kind of is…
For this reason, you’re much better off using an actual business that specialises in this sort of thing – a business like Gazelle or Apple’s Refurb Program.
What’s The Warranty and Returns Policy Like?
Apple says that: “Before we put a refurbished Mac, iPod, iPad or Apple TV up for sale in Special Deals, it undergoes a rigorous refurbishment process to make sure it’s up to Apple’s tough quality standards.”
That means you can return a Mac bought from the Refurbished Store within 14 days if you’re not happy with it. Just a word of caution though, you can only post it back, as Apple will not accept returns to a physical Apple Store on refurbished products.
Gazelle on the other hand offers a 30-day returns policy, so if something isn’t right with your refurbished MacBook, you just send it back and they will refund you the whole cost. In my experience, however, this will not be an issue – its refurbished MacBooks are always topnotch.
Do I Have To Get A Refurbished Mac Directly From Apple?
The answer to that is no, but our advice would be to seek out a shop that’s certified as an Apple Premium Reseller.
These Premium Resellers will try to at least meet the same sort of service you’d get if you went into the Apple Store – and prices may be cheaper than buying directly from Apple, as they are at Gazelle.
What Warning Signs Should I Look Out For?
If you’ve been googling for a cheap Mac and and have found one through a third-party on eBay, Amazon or another, more distant corner of the internet, here are some of the things that should set off some alarm bells.
- No Warranties or Guarantees – If the seller isn’t offering any type of returns policy or protection on your purchase, then we suggest you go running for the hills. It’s a big bet you’re making, and you know what they say – the bookmaker always wins.
- No Pictures – This may seem like an obvious thing to say, but if there are no real pictures of the product then you absolutely shouldn’t trust the person who’s selling it. Simple as that.
When Is A MacBook TOO OLD?
We know we said earlier not to be put off by the age of the Mac, but when it comes to tech, there is such a thing as ‘too old’.
Old products stretch the meaning of “refurbished” because they usually lack support for the latest OS X features and have an old battery, hard drive, and other components. If you’re considering a so-called refurb that’s more than three years old, ask if the battery has ever been replaced.
It may not be quite as good as a brand-new one, straight out of the box, but a refurbished Mac is actually a really great way to save money in a really easy way. To be honest, we’re not sure why anyone would buy a new Mac unless you’re desperate for the latest and greatest features.
Refurbished is a smarter approach, as the tech is still solid but you pay less. And that, in my eyes, is a win-win for all parties concerned.
As noted throughout this post, I’m a huge fan of Gazelle – it offers a wide-range of refurbished MacBooks that are fully certified and tested for optimal performance.
It also has a great 30-day returns policy, which is double what Apple offers….
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.