How to get AppleCare cheap? The answer is eBay.

Like many but not enough people, I understand that extended warranties are, statistically, a rip-off. The odds are that I’ll pay extra for the warranty and then never use it. Best Buy, among others, makes a killing from selling its customers on extended warranties. However, I have one weak spot when it comes to extended warranties—well, two actually when you count that for car warranties—AppleCare. Ever since my PowerBook G3’s motherboard failed and left me high and dry back in the fall of 2001, I’ve consistently bought AppleCare for my subsequent Mac laptops. Sometimes I’ve needed it, and sometimes I haven’t.

And despite that mixed record, I just purchased AppleCare for my MacBook Pro, whose standard one-year warranty expires in a couple weeks. (Apple gives you one year from the original date of purchase to add AppleCare to its products.) AppleCare for the MacBook Pro and formerly the PowerBook is most expensive extended warranty that Apple sells at $349 for an additional two years of coverage. However, no one should pay full price for any Apple Care package. But how do you avoid paying full price? Well, that’s easy: buy AppleCare on eBay. I just got AppleCare for my MacBook Pro for $127. If you are patient and willing to following the auctions for a couple weeks, you should be able to find a similar deal. If you’re not, most Buy It Now prices for the package hover around $160-$170. That’s still a savings of over 50% off the normal retail price. How is this possible? The answer I’ve heard is that Apple requires its resellers to meet quotas for AppleCare sales and many of them end up dumping the warranties at low prices to meet those quotas. You can even find AppleCare for the iPhone, which normally sells for $69, for around $40 on eBay. So, if you feel compelled to buy an extended warranty for your Apple product, eBay is certainly the way to go.

*Update* Consumer Reports has found that buying AppleCare actually is worth its cost. Nonetheless, why pay full price when you don’t have to?

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