If you're curious about how to get the best deal on a tablet, you're not alone — with the holiday season fast approaching, lots of us are trying to figure out how and where to find the best Black Friday tablet deals.
Keeping tabs on our regularly-updated lists of the best Black Friday deals is a good start, because we're going to be here for you through the holidays to help you find the best sales as they go live.
But if you want to go above and beyond the best sales to make sure you get the best deal on a new or used tablet, we've put together this list of tablet-specific tips for holiday shopping. While you may not find every tip on this list works best for you, we think there's something useful for everyone in this list of seven tips for getting a great deal on a tablet this holiday season.
Take advantage of Black Friday & Cyber Monday sales
As the saying goes, “timing is everything,” and that’s true of buying tech gear. For tablets, many experts say it’s best to buy them in November and December—but February and August are also very good times.
So once you know what kind of tablet you're looking to buy (our up-to-date lists of the best tablets and the best tablets for kids are great resources if you're not sure) it's time to start looking for great deals, because right now is one of the best times to buy a tablet.
But don’t just search major retailers, both online and brick-and-mortar, like Amazon, Walmart, B&H, and Best Buy. You should also consider membership stores like Costco, Sam’s Clubs and others.
To give you a taste of what's out there, here's a few of our favorite tablet deals we've seen so far during the 2023 shopping season:
- Amazon Fire 7 Tablet (2022): was $59 now $39 @ Amazon
- Lenovo Tab M8 (3rd Gen): was $119 now $88 @ Walmart
- Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite: was $159 now $99 @ Best Buy
- Samsung Galaxy Tab A8: was $229 now $149 @ Walmart
- Apple iPad 2021 (WiFi/64GB): was $329 now $229 @ Amazon
- Apple iPad 2022 (WiFi/64GB): was $449 now $349 @ Amazon
- Apple iPad mini (WiFi/64GB): was $499 now $399 @ Amazon
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra: was $1,199 now $799 @ Best Buy
Save by choosing specific features
One of the things you’ll want to consider when looking for a great deal on a tablet is what you're willing to live without.
For instance, it may pay to choose a Wi-Fi version of a particular tablet instead of opting for the cellular version if you don't need cellular connectivity, since cellular models not only cost more but will cost you additional money every month.
Whether you're willing to live without 5G connectivity or a fancy display, the thing to do is compare your options to see how much of a deal you can get. To help you with your selection, go to the comparison section of a retailer’s or manufacturer’s website. For instance, if you’re buying an iPad, start on Apple's comparison page and then put in three iPads to compare, like the iPad Pro, the iPad Air and the entry-level iPad.
As you'll see, larger, more technically complicated slates with more features or higher-resolution screens will cost more than their smaller, simpler counterparts. You can scroll through these comparison pages to see exactly what features you're paying for, including the number of cores in both the CPUs and GPUs, camera and video features, connector types, audio features, Wi-Fi speeds, etc.
Apple isn’t the only company to offer a comparison tool on their website, though. For example, Samsung has one for its Galaxy tablets. You also have various ways to compare products on sites like Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Target, B&H, Newegg, Adorama, and others. So make sure to use these comparison tools to check and see you're choosing just the specific features you want (like 5G connectivity on an iPad or a free stylus included with a Samsung Galaxy tablet) and not paying a cent more for features you don't.
Save money on free shipping
When shopping online for a tablet or other item, always look for free shipping options to save money.
For example, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can save money on tablets by getting free shipping via your membership. Other stores, websites, and membership stores have free shipping: For instance, Best Buy's membership program offers free shipping. So does Sam’s Club.
But take note that many such policies have hard-to-spot caveats, like the stipulation that they only include free shipping on most items or on orders over a specific price.
So be sure to check the details, and don't fall into the trap of spending more than you'd save by getting free shipping just to get free shipping!
Look for educational discounts
If you’re a teacher or a student, you can buy tablets at a discount from many retailers and manufacturers. However, you will likely be required to prove that you’re an enrolled student or that you work at an academic institution.
For example, Apple has an Apple Education Pricing section of their online site on iPads for teachers, school support staff and students. Samsung also provides discounts for teachers, students, and administrators. Like Apple, Samsung’s website says they "may require additional verification of your student or educator identity," so be prepared to show ID if you want to save some money on new slates for school!
Avoid buying extended warranties
Many retailers will try to upsell you on buying an extended warranty for your new tablet. And while it it may make sense to buy an extended warranty on some very expensive products, such as a car, in most cases, it really doesn’t pay to buy an extended warranty when buying consumer electronics like a tablet.
However, if you do give into temptation, be sure to read the fine print on what the product’s warranty does cover. Read it thoroughly, and before you sign on the dotted line for a service plan make sure to check out the Consumer Reports buying guide to Extended Warranties.
Consider buying a refurbished tablet
If money’s tight, consider buying a refurbished tablet. Under the right conditions a gently-used tablet can be refurbished and resold nearly good as new—the key is to buy from the most reputable source, preferably the manufacturer itself.
For example, on Apple’s refurbished iPad page they note that “All refurbished iPad models come with a new battery, new outer shell, are backed by a one-year warranty, have free delivery and returns, and also include: Full functional testing, genuine Apple part replacements (if necessary), and a thorough cleaning." Additionally, refurb iPads will come with the “original Operating System or a more recent version," so you can be pretty confident when buying a refurbished iPad that you're getting a good deal.
So keep an eye out for similar assurances before you buy a refurbished tablet for the holidays. For example, Acer includes some info on refurbished tablets on their FAQ page. If you don't find detailed info on a company's refurbishment program, beware: you may get something less than you bargained for!
Don’t be afraid to haggle
Lastly, whatever kind of tablet you intend buy, remember this—don’t be afraid to haggle.
Truth be told I’ve never liked haggling, since I equated it with confrontation. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, no matter what retailer you’re negotiating with, you’ll do better if you’re polite and respectful. Also, smiling doesn’t hurt. So, whenever possible, it’s worth haggling, no matter what item you’re buying.
There are a variety of ways to haggle, and you can be subtle when trying to persuade a retailer to offer the item at a lower price. For instance, you could mention that you’ve been a loyal customer but have seen the tablet for less at other stores or websites. You could then say, you’d really like to remain a loyal customer and then ask if they can meet or beat the price.
One thing you’ll want to be sure you do before you haggle is to know what a fair price is for a particular tablet so that you can have some leverage. One quick way is to simply search for a specific tablet via Google’s shopping tool. But you’ll want to know what the fair price for the product is.
And while you can try to haggle anywhere (since large retailers like Best Buy and Target and others do have the ability to match pricing) you'll probably have the best odds of success at independent retail outlets.
Here’s a short list of other helpful haggling tips:
- Be respectful: As the old adage goes, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. So, don’t act like you’re entitled to a discount—be polite!
- Show that you’re an educated and qualified buyer: Not matter what type of retail outlet you’re approaching, do your research beforehand so that you’re regarded as a knowledgeable consumer. At the very least, know the fair price of the tablet you intend to buy.
- Stay poker-faced and keep quiet: This tip is very much like playing poker. That’s because keeping quiet can create an awkward silence, and a vendor may try to make a lower counter if he or she thinks they’ve offended you. First, make your offer. Then, keep a poker face and stay quiet, and see if they make you a lower offer
- Don’t overlook flawed tablets: Some stores sell not only refurbished tablets but also floor models, open-box tablets, and demo models at a discount.
- For brick-and-mortar stores, go in early or later in the day: If you’re haggling in-person, early or late in the day can be good times to approach a salesperson or sales manager since there won’t be as many other customers around.
Also, check out our Black Friday coupons page for more tips and ways to save!
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Terry Sullivan is an experienced technology journalist who has covered consumer electronics including cameras, smartphones, audio tech and software among many other things. His work has appeared in the likes of Consumer Reports, PCMag, Lifehacker, and the New York Times and he is also a teacher, photographer, artist, and musician.