Is Purchasing Refurbished Electronics a Smart Buy?

Is Purchasing Refurbished Electronics a Smart Buy?


You can find some incredible markdowns when purchasing refurbished items, but it also comes with its risks. In this article, will show you when refurbished electronics are a good buy and when they aren’t.

An extended warranty is a must

Before we even discuss purchasing refurbished electronic items, a precursor is that an extended warranty is a must. While it may not always be necessary to purchase the extended warranty with new items, it’s a necessity to protect your investment when purchasing refurbished electronic products.

Some companies offer warranties of one year while others offer 90 days, and still others only 30 days.

The good news is… There are third-party warranty companies that will offer add-on warranties with your purchase, and many retailers offer these warranties at the time of purchase.

The top electronics warranty companies according to Consumer Affairs are Asurion, SquareTrade, Assurant Phone Insurance, Consumer Priority Service,, IConnectProtect, Mack Worldwide Warranty and ProtectionPlace.

Why do you need an extended warranty with refurbished

The necessity of having an extended warranty comes down to the simple fact that not all companies treat or define refurbished products in the same way.

All refurbishing is not the same

There is no industry standard and the way in which manufacturers and companies refurbished items

In fact, some companies don’t use the term “refurbished,” and instead may use terms such as “certified pre-owned,” “reconditioned,” “pre-owned,” or others.

But most importantly, there is also a difference in the way manufacturers and companies go about refurbishing products and it can vary widely. Some companies refurbished products in their factories, while others send them out to third parties to do the work. Some may refurbish products with brand-new parts, while others may use leftover or reclaimed parts.

Some companies definitely do a thorough review to check, test and replace parts. However, other companies’ methods of refurbishing may simply be cleaning the device up, repackaging, then re-pricing the item. You may never know if you are being sold a floor item that had hours and hours of use before it was repackaged. It pays to inquire before jumping on the deal.

Buying items from places like eBay can be a mixed bag, because sometimes it is a dumping ground for so-called “gray items” that have a sketchy history whether it was from use or manufacturing quirks. Conversely, you can also find some excellent deals on eBay, again, make sure you are able to obtain a warranty and inquire as to whether a certified refurbisher performed the rehab on the device.

Make the purchase using a credit card

There are a couple of good reasons for using a credit card for your purchase. You can pay it off right away, but using the card for the purchase will extend your protection.

The benefits: First, is the benefit of extended warranty protection. Many credit card companies will extend coverage on refurbished goods as long as they have a pre-existing warranty. Second, many credit card companies may offer assistance if a vendor refuses to accept a return. Your credit card company may refund your money if the vendor won’t.


Another important factor when purchasing refurbished electronics is the length of time you have to return the item. Amazon has an excellent return policy. Apple, however, limits returns to 14 days.

The bottom line for making a good refurbished purchase

Purchasing refurbished electronics can be a smart buy if you take steps to protect your purchase and ensure you are indeed getting a product that still has some decent life left in it.

If you want to ensure you are getting a quality refurbished product, here are the most important things to look for:

  • Determine what the seller means by “refurbished.”
  • Make sure the device was refurbished by a certified vendor.
  • Make sure the item comes with an acceptable warranty and/or purchase an extended warranty from the seller or from a third-party warranty vendor such as those described above.
  • Make sure you understand and are comfortable with the return policy before making your purchase.
  • Purchase the item using a credit card to gain additional benefits in protecting your purchase.