There’s always going to be a faster, cheaper, better version of the gadget you love. And you’re probably going to want it.
The only real question, then, is: How to get that new gadget for less money? Here are six tips to help you out.
1. Buy refurbished
Retailers accept returned merchandise for various reasons, and electronics are no exception. Maybe someone bought a silver iPhone, only to realize they’re more the rose gold type. Or it could be a laptop was returned because of a mechanical defect.
In any case, many electronics retailers try to cut their losses by reselling returned items. They test the device, fix any flaws, and offer it again as a ‘refurbished’ product. Refurbished devices are often sold at an attractive discount. Plus, they’re usually backed by the same warranties and return policies as new products.
When buying refurbished, you won’t have as many product choices as when buying new. You may not be able to buy a company’s latests products refurbished, either. But if you’re game, buying refurbished can save you money.
Example: A refurbished, gold 9.7-inch iPad Pro with 32GB and Wi-Fi and cellular networking is $619 refurbished vs. $729 new, a $110 savings in Apple’s refurbished store. Other retailers offering refurbished electronics include Amazon, Best Buy, Newegg, Target, Walmart, Dell and Overstock.
2. Get new deals pushed to you
Camelcamelcamel is an oddly named but essential Amazon price tracking tool. Find the device you want. Enter your desired price and email address. If/when your dream gadget hits that price, you’ll be notified. The site also lets you know if your desired price is unrealistic, based on its pricing history.
3. Always start with a Google search
Before you start seriously shopping online, do a Google search of the product name and add promo code to the search phrase. If you want a Fitbit Alta HR, for instance, Google this phrase: Fitbit Alta HR promo code.
4. Add shopping smarts to your browser
An add-on tool for Firefox, Chrome and Safari web browsers, InvisibleHand automatically compares prices from about 11,000 retailers for a particular product.
Another extension for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari, Honey, automatically searches for coupon codes relevant to the product you’re viewing. If it finds a usable code, Honey applies it, helping you save bucks before checking out. When you use coupons discovered through Honey, you might also earn a cash bonus.
5. Buy used gadgets
For buying locally, there’s always Craigslist. The site has had its share of scammers, so take precautions. (Read “How to Buy and Sell Safely on Craigslist” for tips.) Facebook added a Marketplace last year for local buying and selling. Compared to Craigslist, which can be pretty anonymous, you can view the seller’s Facebook profile. Other local marketplaces to consider include Close5, OfferUp, and Letgo.
6. Sell your old gadgets
Selling gadgets you no longer need is a great way to (at least partly) subsidize new devices. You can sell electronics at any of the used gadget sites/apps mentioned above, either for free (as with Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace) or for a fee (eBay and Amazon come to mind). If you decide to sell, keep these tips in mind:
* With luck, you’ve held onto the gadget’s original packaging and accessories. Buyers often find used devices with their original box and accessories more appealing. And in an auction, it might get you higher bids.
* Skip the gift card exchange. It’s super easy to turn in a used device in exchange for a Best Buy or Amazon gift card. But you’ll get more money selling it yourself.
* Before selling a laptop, tablet, smartphone or other device, make sure to back up its data, sign out of any services (like Apple’s iTunes or iCloud), and restore the device to its factory settings.
* Wipe it clean. Use a soft, lint-free microfiber cloth to widge away smudges. Don’t ever use harsh chemicals, like Windex, or alcohol-based cleansers.
* If you plan to sell on eBay, pay attention to when your auction ends. Most people wait until the last few minutes to place a bid. So if your auction ends at, say, 2 a.m. Pacific/5 a.m. Eastern, fewer people are likely to be available for bidding. A better bet: Have your auction end on a Saturday or Sunday morning, when more potential buyers are awake and off work.