This thing called vendor lock-in is real and we see it everywhere. Buy a new car and warranty work needs to be performed by the dealer. Buy an Apple gift card at a discount and you’re stuck buying whatever from Apple and nowhere else.
Here’s a good example. Let’s say you bought a $250 Apple gift card for a newly graduated student in your family to help buy a new MacBook for college. Then you find a discounted MacBook at Best Buy or online. That gift card is locked into purchases from Apple and nowhere else.
This was a lesson learned last year when everyone except Apple was offering special discounts on iPads, Macs, and even Apple Watch, but tough luck if you’d purchased an Apple gift card as a gift. No discounts for you.
Apple has never been much for discounting products at the Apple Store or online. A few refurbished items show up from time to time (I’ve even seen older models on eBay) but the discounts belong to third party retailers.
That Apple gift card scenario is an example of vendor lock-in.
Here’s a nifty trick to use some of Apple’s policies toward lock-in to your favor. How much is a subscription to Apple Music? $9.99 a month, right? Since you need an iTunes account and a credit card, each month Apple charges the credit card $9.99. No discounts for you.
Unless you purchase an iTunes card at a discount. They’re available often at 10-percent to 15-percent off, but I’ve bought them as high as 25-percent off with certain promotions. When you see a discount that high, buy it on the spot, as much as you can afford.
When it comes to recurring charges like Apple Music’s $9.99 a month fee, Apple will debit the balance on your iTunes account first; before charging your account’s credit card. If you bought, say, a $100 iTunes card for $75, and redeemed the $100 amount on your iTunes account, that becomes a de facto 25-percent discount for Apple Music, which drops the monthly price tag to $7.50 for each of 10 months ($100 divided by $9.99 per month).
Despite the vendor lock-in Apple is so famous for implementing, there are ways to squeeze a discount from iTunes.
To be fair, Apple does provide some education discounts and promotions, but those usually involved the purchase of a Mac, iPad, or iPhone, and getting it bundled with hardware like a Beats headphone.