How to Find a Refurbished Apple Macbook Laptop Under 500 Dollars

If you were to go shopping for a brand new macbook (whether it be a macbook pro or macbook air) you will be easily looking at a price tag of around $1000 (macbook air, 11" 128 GB)  and usually far in excess ($1200 for the basic macbook pro, 13", 2.5 GHz) if you were to buy from Apple directly (either offline or online). 

Then if you wanted to try and save some money -- you  could go on to check Apple's official refurbished macbook department -- but realistically you will still only be looking at a maximum of 15%/20% off (when it comes to the remanufactured apple macbook laptops, & usually a bit more for an iMac e.g. 23%). So for the case of the macbook air 11" (as from the 27/11/2013) the price they offer is $849.00 & for the macbook $1000. So it is better, but it is obvious you are still paying for a premium.

However, if you were to get a bit more shopping savvy -- and this is where this guide hopes to help you out (through exploring two major online avenues: i. Amazon & ii. eBay) -- you can find easily a find refurbished macbook under $500 -- which is obviously a lot more affordable & reasonable given that you are paying for a second hand electronic device (that has previously been broken). Note though, that these macbooks on offer will likely be a little bit older than the current crop of macbooks (usually, a year behind) on offer & they will of course have been used before -- but they are guaranteed to still work very well -- essentially like new.

If you are really willing to compromise (i.e a fair bit older & more 'used') and are basically just after a macbook -- then check out the 'bonus section' at the end for help with finding a refurbished macbook under $300.


1. The first place to head over to is and then -- apply the following search filters -- "Category: electronics, computers & accessories, laptops - Operating System: Mac OS X - Condition: Refurbished - Price Range: Under $500 (or go through the link)" -- you will then come across a range of different macbook models. All of them are available used & refurbished for under 500 dollars (so ignore the new listed prices).

Apple MacBook Pro MC374LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop (OLD VERSION)
Amazon Price: $1,199.00 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 15, 2015)

2. The next step is rather obvious -- pick the macbook that you are after -- so is it going to be a macbook pro or macbook air? 2.4 GHz intel core duo? hard drive space? operating system? 13.3 inch screen size? You will usually be wanting the most modern (from the bunch) and the one that offers the best specs/details & these are the two models above: the MC374LL/A MacBook Pro & the MB466LL/A MacBook Pro (as of 2013/14). 

Important Note: Ignore the Amazon price as these are the list prices when sold 'new' go through them to see their used & refurbished prices, which you will see are under the $500 mark. Even older macbook models you will see get even cheaper, potentially under $400 (e.g. the M133LL/A below).

Also be aware: you are buying from third party sellers (these are usually companies fixing and then selling macbooks) that retail through Amazon -- so the prices tend to vary, so if you are patient and check regularly the better chance you will come across an even better bargain.

But, this is also fundamental as to why I advise you shop through Amazon -- you can trust them due to their A-to-Z guarantee that is in place that covers you up to $2,500  -- so if anything was  to go wrong (e.g. you bought the macbook and it doesn't work/not what you ordered & the third party doesn't give you a refund) you are covered (hence you can buy with absolute confidence). However, follow the advice below and it is extremely rare for it to ever get to that stage -- but it is nice to know you are backed just in case.

Apple MacBook Pro MB133LL/A 15.4-inch Laptop (OLD VERSION)
Amazon Price: $1,599.00 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 15, 2015)

3. Once you have found the macbook model that is perfect for you -- you want to go through to the 'third party sellers' section -- you can do this either through the link where it says 'Available from these sellers' or under the product details (on the right hand side of the macbook  image) it will say 3 new from $xxx, 84 used from $xxx & 5 refurbished from $xxx -- you are interested in the latter two (you will see because the price is usually significantly lower than the 'new' price).

Apple MacBook Pro MB133LL/A 15.4-inch Laptop (OLD VERSION)
Amazon Price: $1,599.00 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 15, 2015)

4. Now you should be facing a list of sellers (accompanied with their price + shipping, condition and seller information) -- this is where you need to have your wits about you a bit more. So firstly inspect the price -- see which sellers have the macbook retailing at less than $500. 

Then check the condition description -- it should say either 'refurbished', 'used - acceptable', 'used - good', 'used - very good', 'used - like new' (obviously more towards the latter the better) and then go on to give a bit more information with regards to any defects that the used & refurbished apple laptop might have encountered (usually just odd scuff marks and they raise any issues such as significant problems with the battery etc. and go on to detail what operating system it uses & if it comes in the original box, the charger?) and some come with photos as well.

Make sure the seller is reputable -- if so the following questions will be answered with a 'yes'. Do they have at least a 90% positive rating? Are they from over 100 ratings? Do they sell other similar products (e.g. Apple iPads, other laptops etc.).

Apple MacBook MB467LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop
Amazon Price: $1,299.00 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 15, 2015)

5. Contact them & ask questions. Asking questions will help you get more of an understanding of i) how good of a company they are (how in-depth their answers are, how fast they were to get back to you etc.) and ii) you can find out more about the macbook you want to be buying ask questions like i)what is the warranty? ii) how old is it? iii) what is your refund & returns policy? v) does it come with the manual/user guide? vi) will you provide me with a covering/laptop case? vii) do they hold their charge? viii) can I have photos of the keyboard? ix) the keyboard works? (i.e matching keys) x) when did you last fix it? xi) what was wrong with it? xii) what version of the operating system is it using? xiii) what are the mac details (on the opening screen)? -- then do they match with the description? And so on... basically anything & everything you want to know.

Then if you are satisfied with all the above & happy -- you are good to buy.

The alternative avenue I was going to advise was to go through eBay & apply much of the procedure as I laid out above (identify the right macbook, check it through with mac forums etc., ask questions, make sure they are reputable -- being an 'ebay top seller' -- and the like). However, I am a bit more unsure with eBay particularly surrounding the coverage on offer etc. So although you are more likely to get a bargain, I'd still opt for Amazon given it is just safer to use (perhaps a bit of bias given that I use amazon more often).

Extra: Can You Buy a Refurbished Macbook Under $300?

Yes, you can find refurbished macbooks under 300 dollars but you are a lot more limited with your options in terms of models (usually a fair bit older) and buyers -- but they are out there (as with the model below: MC240LL/A) -- just be sure to triple check with the buyers and are 100% genuine. With the Amazon filter simply adjust the price range from $500 to $300 and you can see if there are any sellers who are willing to sell reconditioned macbooks for less than 300 dollars. 

Apple MacBook MC240LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop
Amazon Price: $999.00 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 15, 2015)