AppleCare can sometimes be a lifesaver, but it is, every time, annoyingly expensive.
And yet even with the high price, when you are staring at your shiny new MacBook in the Apple Store, and the salesperson is trying to force you to imagine breaking it, many of us cave. “OK, yes, I would like to buy AppleCare+.”
It doesn’t have to be that way.
There’s a simple trick you can use to get your manufacturer’s warranty extended from one year to two years — and it doesn’t cost you a cent.
This trick not only works with MacBooks, but with iPhones, cameras, or literally any electronic device with a warranty.
The key is paying for your new gadget with the right credit card. The major credit cards — Visa, American Express, MasterCard, and Discover — all offer free warranty extensions in one form or another. But they aren’t all equal.
American Express is the one I have had personal experience with.
Amex’s terms for warranty extension are generous. If you use any Amex card to buy a product with a US manufacturer’s warranty of five years or less (this doesn’t mean that your product had to be made in the US), Amex will provide an extra year. If it breaks during the second year, Amex will cover the cost of repairs up to the amount you charged on your card — and technically to a maximum of $10,000.
Here’s my story.
I bought a MacBook Air in 2012 and decided against getting any additional protection because, at the time, the price of the laptop itself seemed high enough. Fast forward a year and a half and my keyboard stops working for no discernible reason.
I got Amex on the phone to make an extended warranty claim. They spoke to me for a few minutes and then sent me this follow-up email.
All I had to do was go to the Apple Store and get a repair estimate, then screenshot the receipt Apple had emailed to me when I originally purchased the laptop.
A few days later I was approved, and I got a completely new keyboard for my laptop for free. And, as a sidenote, you would be appalled to hear how much Apple wanted to charge me for that keyboard repair.
But you have to pick the right card.
Visa is the trickiest. They only offer a warranty extension on their “Signature” cards, but on those, they will extend the warranty (up to one year) on warranties of three years or less, according to their website.
MasterCard also offers to extend your warranty up to one year, and Discover offers to extend it by one year for warranties of three years or less. MasterCard and Discover don’t state any restrictions as to type of card, but also say some could be excluded.
This brings me to an important point: Always check with your credit-card company before assuming your purchase will qualify. Some of them have fine print that could potentially exclude certain, unspecified cards. They can also have exclusions for items that are still under “instalment billing,” so depending on how you are paying for your iPhone, it is good to check whether it is covered.
But other than that, there is no reason not to take advantage of these plans. You could end up getting a free MacBook.