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Best Buy Expands Apple Upgrade Program to Include iMac and Mac Studio Desktops

The "Upgrade Plus" program, which Best Buy launched for MacBook laptops in October, helps people finance Apple computers over 36 months and then upgrade.

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Best Buy cited customer interest as part of the reason it's expanding its upgrade program.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Best Buy on Tuesday expanded its Apple computer upgrade program less than two months after its launch, helping people finance an iMac or Mac Studio desktop, in addition to its existing MacBook laptop offer from October. In each case, customers can finance an Apple computer over 36 months, with options to buy it outright at the end of the three-year cycle or turn it in for a newer model.

The move, which offers financing options through Citizens Financial, is among the first of its kind to bring smartphone-like payment and upgrade programs to the computer market. Best Buy's program starts at $20 per month for a $999 MacBook, with $280.35 remaining to pay on the device, if customers are approved for a 0% interest rate after a credit check. If they trade it in for another MacBook, payments merely continue and Best Buy "will make the final payment on behalf of the customer." Best Buy will also cover the final payment if a customer turns in the laptop instead of upgrading or paying the final price.

"We're excited about the amount of customer interest we've seen in the Upgrade Plus program over the past couple months," Jason Bonfig, Best Buy's chief merchandising officer, said in a statement. "It's been great to partner with Apple to now bring this program to iMac, especially during a time when customers are looking for value more than ever."

Read more: Best MacBook for 2022

Best Buy's move to expand its Upgrade program comes as monthly financing and subscription schemes have become increasingly popular across the tech industry. Apple, for example, doesn't offer a similar upgrade program for its computers, but it does for iPhones. Other companies, including software giant Microsoft, have increasingly turned to financing and subscriptions as well to lure in new customers with low upfront costs for its Xbox video game consoles.

Environmental advocates believe these subscriptions may have another benefit as well. Companies and retailers are effectively incentivizing people to turn in devices when they're ready to upgrade, which may help create "closed loop" recycling, in which older machines are kept out of landfills. Instead, they can be torn down for parts or refurbished and reused by someone else. 

Read more: A Fully Recycled Phone Is a Lot Harder Than It Sounds, Even for Samsung and Apple

Best Buy said it plans to similarly find a "second life" for working devices turned in through its program.

The company's fine print notes that the program does not include configure-to-order models, nor open-box, pre-owned or refurbished items. Citizens Financial will also charge between 0% and 29.99% interest annually, depending on a customer's credit worthiness.