How to Buy a Cheap or Refurbished iPad

Good deals come from being smart about your purchase decision

What's better than an iPad? A cheap iPad. The iPad is a great device, but it can still cost as much as an entry-level laptop even if you go with the cheapest model available. And if you need a data connection, you can add more money to the price. But before you decide that you can't quite afford one, let's take a look at some ways you can make the purchase of the iPad cheaper.

Woman in cafe using tablet
 Getty Images / Tara Moore

Go Mini

Do you want to knock money off the price of the iPad? Don't dismiss the iPad Mini. The iPad Mini 4 is the same exact tablet as the iPad Air 2 and the 2019 refresh in the form of the iPad Mini 5 keeps the same basic form factor. The only thing "mini" about it is the size, and that can actually be an advantage.

The smaller 7.9-inch tablet can be much easier to use on the go than its 9.7-inch big brother. Not only is it more portable when you are outside of the house, but it is also more mobile inside the house, making it easy to walk into the kitchen while still using your favorite application. The biggest disadvantage here is that you might trip over some clutter making to the kitchen. 

Go With the Last Generation

Another easy way to discount the price of an iPad is to go last generation rather than going with the latest and greatest. Like the iPad Mini 4, the last generation iPad tends to start around $100 cheaper than the current model.

You do sacrifice the most up-to-date features, but if you are looking to save a little money and you really need that larger display, the older model could be your best deal.

Go Mini and Last Generation

Here's where you can get a pretty good iPad. You do sacrifice the same features by going with the last generation, and it will come in the smaller package, but there may not be another tablet on the planet that can come close to doing everything the last generation Mini can do and still come in under a few hundred dollars.  

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 online store sells a wide variety of refurbished iPads and you can usually save off the price. If you combine this with buying the last generation iPad or an iPad mini, you can get a great device for fairly cheap. Worried about buying a refurbished device? A refurbished iPad from Apple comes with the same 1-year warranty you get with a new iPad, which can ease concerns about buying refurbished. 

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.

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, but 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 specific 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. 

Buy From a Friend

Perhaps the easiest, no-hassle way of saving on a used iPad is buying one from a friend. You don't have to worry about getting something different than advertised because you can try it out before you buy, and you don't have to worry about the exchange as you do when buying from Craigslist. The one hassle here is figuring out a good price that is a fair value to all those involved. There are still some things you need to check out and make sure you do before buying a used iPad, such as resetting it to factory default to ensure Find My iPad is turned off.

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.

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.  

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. 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 addictive nature of placing bids, you could easily spend hundreds of dollars trying to win one of these products without ever winning the final bid.

Not convinced you should go used? Purchase a new iPad and get peace of mind.

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