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How to Beat the Apple Tax

So you’re thinking about getting a Mac, but you don’t want to pay the "Apple tax" that Microsoft’s latest ads are always prattling on about. Here’s how. Forget eBay

How to Beat the Apple Tax

So you’re thinking about getting a Mac, but you don’t want to pay the “Apple tax” that Microsoft’s latest ads are always prattling on about. Here’s how.

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Forget eBay

The days of deal-having on eBay are gone, thanks to higher fees, a glut of bidders, and bid-beating software that makes auctions into bloodbaths. Not to mention the diminished warranties, and the ever-present prospect of a PayPal dispute in the event that something arrives damaged. Stick with legitimate retailers who give you a one-year warranty, even on goods that are refurbished, reconditioned, or used.

Check the hot-sheets

Finding deals on Macs has become a cottage industry for a handful of Web sites. DealMac collects prices on computers and hardware, and you can get email alerts for the model you want. DealMac is particularly good for computer accessories and higher-end machines.

DealMac

If you’re looking for the cheapest Mac possible, then you’ll want to check out LowEndMac. Breeze through the homepage to get a taste of Apple fanboy-ism circa 1999, or go straight to the deals page for a no-nonsense rundown of the cheapest Mac gear online. Some popular Mac specialty shops like OtherWorldComputing offer special discounts to LowEndMac readers.

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Go straight to the source

A lot of the tips you’ll get from the hot-sheets above will send you to a handful of places, so if you’re considering an up-sell to a full-priced Mac, you may as well go right to the retailer, where you can check out cheap Macs side-by-side with their full-priced counterparts.

Apple Certified Refurbished Macs

Apple’s refurbished stock is cleverly hidden from Apple Store patrons, but it can be found with a little Googling. As can their clearance section, which is a little like Cupertino’s version of Woot.

SmallDog Electronics

MacConnection is another good retailer offering low prices, frequently-free shipping, and rebates that don’t involving buying another damned color printer. SmallDog is a mom-and-pop retailer worth looking at, especially if you live outside Vermont–out of state buyers don’t get charged sales tax.

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If, for whatever reason, you can’t pay with good ol’ fashioned plastic, try MacMall. They not only take PayPal,but have their own credit card that offers six months with no payments. Don’t go much past that six-month window, though; if you do, financing is at a whopping 22%.

Trade up

PowerMax is a Mac nerd’s dream, you can get build-to-order Mac towers and trade in old Macs towards the purchase of a new one. PowerMax also carries one of the more reliable and extensive arrays of used Macs on the Web, if you’re really on a budget. Then again, if you’re okay with a computer that’s seen a little use, ask your local Apple store for reconditioned Macs they may have in stock. They’re not listed online, and can be had for uber-cheap.

PowerMax

If PowerMax doesn’t have the used Mac of your dreams, or you need Apple parts for a DIY repair, go to Apple Palace instead.

For small businesses that want to trade in more than five old Macs for a new fleet, use the bulk trade-in store at Mac Of All Trades. They pay well, ship promptly and don’t charge sales tax to buyers outside of Florida.

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Related: Magic Shop From Issue 120 | November 2007

Related: The Fast Company 50 – #4 Apple

About the author

I've written about innovation, design, and technology for Fast Company since 2007. I was the co-founding editor of FastCoLabs.

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