Even though new computer prices have dropped steadily over the last few years, a new PC still isn’t a cheap proposition. Many households simply don’t have much cash to spare. The team at PC Fastlane has put together some no-nonsense tips for saving more a little more dinero on your next computer purchase.
1. Use Your Credit Card to Earn Rewards and Get a Free Extended Warranty
It often pays to place large purchases on credit cards provided you pay them off immediately. You can earn quite a few credit card points and even airline miles from your purchase. For instance, the Citi Forward card offers 5 reward points for every dollar spent at Amazon.com, which can be redeemed at a rate of $0.01 per point for gift cards. So a $1,000 computer purchase with the card would land you 5,000 points redeemable for a $50 gift card.
Not to mention many credit card companies also offer automatic extended warranty and accidental damage protection to purchases. My American Express provides 90 days of accidental damage protection and a year extra on the warranty, for example. AMEX bought this guy a new laptop after his one-year Compaq warranty expired– no expensive extended service plan necessary!
2. Don’t Forget About Airline Miles
Like to fly places? You can also receive airline miles for your purchase. A quick check on Delta Skymiles Shopping brought up special mile deals for these manufacturers and stores:
- Dell.com– 3 miles / dollar
- Circuit City, Comp USA, J&R and Office Depot– 2 miles / dollar
- Apple, Lenovo, HP and other manufacturers: 1 mile / dollar
A $1,000 purchase at Dell would land you 3,000 miles with Delta in this situation. Bought separately, they cost $95.00. Instead of showing you pictures of Maui, your computer purchase could bring you just a little closer. You can also use airline miles for magazine subscriptions, electronics and many more items.
3. Buy Low-End and Upgrade on Your Own
When I bought my MacBook Pro last year, I was shocked at Apple’s upgrade prices. The company charged several times what it would cost for me to do on my own– $150 for a $50 DIY RAM upgrade, for example. You can save substantial money performing computer upgrades on your own. A RAM upgrade requires less common sense than changing a tire. Hard drives, DVD burners and fancy sound cards aren’t much harder. If you’re not a techie, consider buying a monitor separately from an online retailer such as Amazon.com or Newegg.
Just be sure to research your DIY upgrade prior to purchase. The new 15″ Macbook Pro has RAM soldered onto the motherboard, making it impossible for the casual consumer to upgrade. Certain low-end desktops may not have PCI-Express slots or an adequate power supply for gaming video cards. Upgrading components on your own generally does not void the manufacturer warranty.
4. Avoid Special Discount Programs
Many non-profits, credit unions and universities have special discount agreements with PC makers. To take advantage of the special prices, students or members usually have to click a link to a special web store designed specifically for the organization. These stores generally don’t provide the same discounts and specials as the manufacturer’s regular web store or allow you to use coupons. A 10% student discount is always nice to have, but you’ll likely end up better off buying on your own than through your university’s student discount program.
5. Find the Right Coupons at the Right Time
Don’t just check the manufacturer’s website for deals. The Google search “Dell coupons” reveals a number of sites providing coupons that can save you hundreds, for example. Check popular deal sites such as Slick Deals and Tech Bargains daily to find deals on new PCs plus coupons. You should also subscribe to manufacturers’ Twitter feeds for special coupons. Just be quick– the deepest discounts usually have a short time frame or limited number of uses (2500 uses per special coupon is common for Dell).
If a coupon recently expired, call a sales representative and ask for an exception. Often times a salesperson is happy to bend the rules or provide a comparable discount to make the sale.
After the Purchase
On a final note, tell the manufacturer immediately about any issues you may have with the computer as soon as it arrives. If the issue is small enough to be a concern but doesn’t necessarily warrant a return or repair, you may receive a partial refund or credit towards a future purchase. I have a colleague who got several hundred dollars back from Dell after complaining her new PC couldn’t perform advertised tasks, for instance. Legitimate gripes could land savings post-purchase. Just be fair and honest.
Have any “unknown” tips of your own to share? Chime off in the comments!
Main photo: Eole Wind