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How to Buy a Cheap iPad

How to Get the Best Deal When Buying an iPad

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Getty Images / Tara Moore

What's better than an iPad? A cheap iPad. The iPad is a great device, but it can still cost as much as a lower end laptop even if you go with the cheapest 16 GB Wi-Fi-only model. And if you need a data connection, you can add $129 to the price of that iPad. But before you decide that you can't quite afford one yet, let's take a look at a some ways you can knock a few dollars off the price of the iPad.

Go Last Generation

The easiest way to discount the price of the iPad is to go with the last generation rather than the newest version of the iPad.  Apple recently put the iPad 4 back into production as an entry-level iPad, making it a great way to save $100 off the price of a new iPad.  Apple has also kept the original iPad Mini in production.  At $299 with the same processor as the iPad 2, better dual-facing cameras and access to Siri, the original iPad Mini is the cheapest way to a brand new iPad.

Shop for the iPad Mini

Buy a Refurbished iPad

Another easy way to cut the price of an iPad is to buy a refurbished unit. In fact, this is a good trick with many devices from laptops to gaming consoles. Apple's store sells a wide variety of refurbished iPads and you can usually save $50 or more off the price. If you combine this with buying the last generation iPad, you can get a great device for around $75-$150 off the original price. 

It's also possible to buy a refurbished iPad from other retailers like Best Buy or Newegg, but if the unit you are looking for is not available from Apple, it's usually best to wait a few weeks to see if that particular model becomes available.

Worried about buying a refurbished device? A refurbished iPad from Apple comes with a 1-year warranty, which can ease concerns of buying refurbished.

Visit Apple's Refurbished iPad Page

Buy Used From Amazon or eBay

Did you know you can buy used products from Amazon? Go to Amazon, search for the iPad and click on the model you want to buy. Once at the product's detail page, you will see how many used units they have for sale. These iPads are sold from a variety of different stores, and not only can you see details about the iPad such as what condition the device is in, you can also see the seller's satisfaction rating.

Another good choice for buying a used iPad is eBay. The popular auction site offers two ways to buy an iPad: a standard auction where you are the highest bidder and a 'Buy it Now', which is when the seller puts a distinct price on the item.  When buying from eBay, it is important to read all of the details before putting in a bid. You will want to check out the iPad's status, the seller's return policy and the seller's rating before buying the iPad. You will also want to note the shipping cost and compare the total price to other options.  Sometimes, a good deal on eBay comes with a rather high shipping price.  

Buying a used or open box item from Amazon or eBay comes with a satisfaction guarantee, so if you are worried that you going to get a broken iPad, or worse, no iPad at all, don't worry.  If you don't receive the item in the condition it was described on the page, simply contact Amazon or eBay.  

More tips for buying on eBay

Avoid Penny Auction Websites

You've probably seen the advertisements promising you a chance to buy an iPad for as cheap as $34.92 or some equally absurd price. And if you've thought that it must be a scam of some type, you are partially right. It's hard to classify them as a straight up scam because they do sell the products, but the way the system works is that you must pay to simply bid on products. This means every time you put in a bid of $16.41 or $17.23 you are paying money to the website regardless of whether or not you win the final bid.

If you are very lucky, you can end up with a cheap iPad without paying much money. But for every person that wins a cheap bid, there are dozens and even hundreds of people that spend $5, $10 or even $20 or more bidding for the product that didn't win the bid. And due to the addicting nature of placing bids, you could easily spend hundreds of dollars trying to win one of these products without ever winning the final bid.

In the end, you might be better off spending a few bucks on lottery tickets and then applying any winnings towards the purchase of an iPad. You'll probably face more favorable odds going that route.

More iPad Scams

Be Wary of Craigslist

Craigslist and other online classified advertisements can be a great way to get a good deal on a product, but they also present an element of risk. One of the newest tricks for would-be muggers is to list a mobile electronic device like an iPad on Craigslist, luring a potential victim to a specific location.

This doesn't mean you have to completely ignore Craigslist, but you should be smart. Always meet in a public location, like inside of a restaurant. Never meet anyone in a parking lot or "just out front" of a store or restaurant. 

If the iPad is in the original packaging, always open the box and turn the iPad on to make sure it works. Familiarize yourself with how to set up an iPad for first time use so you will know what you should be seeing and go through the first few steps to make sure the device is working properly, but don't complete the step asking for your Apple ID.  

Compare Prices on the iPad

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