5 tips to save money when buying a tablet

 IPad Pro 13-inch with M4 chip on a wooden table.
Credit: Future

The best tablets can often be very expensive, with the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) for example starting at $1,299 / £1,299 / $2,199. But just as with phones there are a wide variety of tablets available, and some are a lot cheaper.

Choosing a cheap model isn’t the only way to save money when buying a tablet though, as timing, trading, and other factors can also affect your outlay.

So below we’ve detailed five tips for getting the best tablet for your needs without decimating your bank balance.

1. Trade to save

Apple iPad 10.2 (2021) in portrait mode on a grey cushion
Apple iPad 10.2 (2021) in portrait mode on a grey cushion

Many mobile carriers and other stores offer a trade-in service, whereby you can trade in your old tablet for credit towards a new one. Sometimes these stores will even offer extra trade-in credit on select devices or deals, so keep an eye out for that.

There are also services that specialize in trade-ins and will give you cash instead, which you can then use towards a new tablet at any other retailer.

These include the likes of GadgetGone and igotoffer in the US, and Mazuma Mobile and Music Magpie in the UK.

2. Bundle it with a phone

iPhone 15 front handheld angled
iPhone 15 front handheld angled

If you’re in the market for a new smartphone as well as a tablet then you might be in luck, as while buying both devices separately can prove very expensive, you can sometimes find deals where a tablet is bundled with a phone.

These tend to be offered by carriers, and while your options become a lot more limited if you’re looking for such a deal, you can find some great savings. At the time of writing for example, Verizon will throw in a free iPad with select iPhone 15 plans, and these sorts of deals can be found on other carriers and in other countries too.

So it’s worth checking what phone deals the carriers in your region are offering.

3. Consider your needs

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra display
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra display

As exciting as an iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) or a Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra might be, you should consider whether you need a tablet as big, powerful and expensive as one of these.

If you’re not planning to use your tablet often, or won’t be using it for overly demanding tasks, then something smaller, older, or lower end could do the job just fine.

So consider going a model or two down, choosing a tablet from the previous generation, or picking one with a smaller display. You might want to take a look at our best cheap tablets guide for some inspiration.

It’s also worth considering whether you need cellular data or not. If most of your tablet use will be on Wi-Fi, then this probably isn’t necessary. Even if you do like the idea of cellular data, you could always tether your tablet to your phone.

You could then save money by choosing a Wi-Fi-only model rather than one with 5G or 4G support too – not only do 5G and 4G models often cost more to buy, you then also have the monthly data allowance to cover.

4. Save during sales

Woman bending down picking up three Amazon packages from her doorstep
Woman bending down picking up three Amazon packages from her doorstep

One obvious way to save money when buying a tablet is to wait for it to be on sale. Now, you can’t always predict when a particular model will be discounted, but there are some likely times, including Black Friday, Amazon Prime Day, and holiday sales.

Black Friday 2024 is on November 29, and the next Amazon Prime Day will happen sometime in July, so those are two major events to keep an eye on if you can wait until then to buy a tablet.

You can sometimes find great deals at other times of the year too though, so head on over to our best iPad deals and best tablet deals articles for a round-up of the best current options.

5. Go for a refurb

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW
Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

Another obvious option is to buy a refurbished tablet, as these can often be a lot cheaper than brand new ones.

You might understandably be reluctant to buy a pre-owned device, but if you get a refurbished unit from a reputable retailer then you should be able to get accurate information on the state it’s in. These retailers will have professionally checked and restored the tablet, and in some cases these refurbished units are (almost) as good as new.

The ones that aren’t will typically be even cheaper, so these can save you ever more money if you’re ok with a slightly scuffed unit or one with other minor issues.

Refurbished tablets also tend to include a warranty, so if any issues do develop you can get it repaired or refunded.

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