Lease a MacBook for $20 a Month at Best Buy — What’s the Catch?

Saigon / Vietnam - November 2017: Macbook Air 2018 unboxing review.
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MacBook lovers who don’t love the cost of buying their own devices can now lease one for as little as $19.99 a month thanks to a new program unveiled by Best Buy this week.

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On Monday, Best Buy announced the launch of Upgrade+, which operates similar to a car lease in that you can make monthly payments toward the purchase of a Mac laptop without having to commit to buying it.

In a press release, Best Buy said Upgrade+ lets customers finance a Mac laptop starting at $19.99 a month for 36 months. The $280.35 final payment is due in month 37, based on an original price of $999.99.

After 36 months, customers have the option of returning the Mac and leaving the program if they don’t want to purchase the device. Or, they can remain in the program and upgrade to a newer Mac laptop model. Best Buy officials stressed that customers are under no obligation to purchase a Mac laptop.

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“If they choose to either upgrade to a newer Mac laptop model, or to return the original product, Best Buy will make the final payment on behalf of the customer,” the company said.

The idea behind the program is to make Apple products accessible to more consumers.

“By introducing Upgrade+, we’re bringing customers an affordable and approachable way to get their hands on some of the most exciting technology available,” said Best Buy Chief Merchandising Officer Jason Bonfig.

There are some restrictions and other caveats, however. For one thing, it only applies to MacBooks with Apple Silicon, Digital Trends reported — which means an M1 or M2 Mac. You can’t get one of the pre-2020 Intel models under the program.

For another, eligibility is subject to credit approval. Financing is through Citizens Pay, so you’ll need some type of credit history to qualify. In addition, the monthly payment amount for the first 36 months is based on your creditworthiness.

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According to Digital Trends, Upgrade+ has five pricing tiers, depending on which model of MacBook you want to buy (some dollar amounts are rounded up):

  • M1 MacBook Air: $20/month
  • M2 MacBook Air: $26/month
  • 13″ M2 MacBook Pro: $28.17/month
  • 14″ M1 MacBook Pro: $43.34/month
  • 16″ M1 MacBook Pro: $54.17/month
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AppleCare+ is free with Upgrade+ if you subscribe to Best Buy’s TotalTech program, which costs $200 a year. That’s a pretty good deal considering that AppleCare+ can cost as much as $400 a year, according to TechCrunch and MacRumors. However, because Apple lets you break that into two payments a year, your decision on which to choose depends on your budget.

Upgrade+ comes amid rumors that Apple is considering a hardware subscription service of its own, Apple Insider reported. That might be one reason Best Buy refers to it as a limited-time promotion with no specific end date.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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