Apple Store buying tip: You can get pricing matching up to 10 percent

Most people don't know this, but Apple does have a price-matching policy in its stores. Though it's not as good as you'd hope.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
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David Carnoy
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Over the holiday buying season you're going to see some discounts on Apple products, though those discounts won't be available in Apple Stores. Apple does have a limited Black Friday sale, but it's just a one-day event, while some of these sales at Best Buy and other stores go on for days.

What a lot of people don't know is that Apple will price-match up to 10 percent off the list price, so long as the deal is from an Apple-authorized brick-and-mortar retailer. The sale has to be in a physical store, not online.

To give you an example, Best Buy has the iPad Mini 4 on sale right now for $125 off. So the 128GB model costs $374.99 instead $499.99. (The 64GB model has been discontinued, so it's no longer available at the Apple Store, but it is on sale at Best Buy.)

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Best Buy has a $125 discount on the iPad Mini 4 right now.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you were in an Apple Store buying that same device, Apple would give you 10 percent off the list price, which would come out to a $50 discount or $449.99 -- that's the price I was offered. That's not as good as $125 off, but it's something.

I spoke to a couple of "specialists" in Apple Stores in New York and got the rundown on the restrictions Apple has on price matching.

"If the deal you were citing was in Best Buy, we'd call a Best Buy around here and make sure the deal was available on the same product," one of the blue-shirt specialists told me.

You also can't tack the 10 percent on to some other discount -- you only get one discount. The employees of CBS, which owns CNET, get a small discount on certain Apple products (usually around 5 percent, which doesn't even cover the tax in New York). But I wouldn't get that if I asked for the 10 percent price match.

The sales associate added that it was perfectly fine for someone to go buy the discounted product at a Best Buy at the lower price. He even seemed to be encouraging it. After all, he said, "Apple's got Best Buy's money already."

I pointed out that some people ended up with Apple gift cards, and alas, couldn't use them at Best Buy. So 10 percent was better nothing. He agreed.

I reached out to Apple for comment on this story and to confirm the 10 percent pricing-matching policy and some of its finer details, but I haven't heard back from the company. I'll update the story if Apple does respond.