Which Warranty is Right for You?
Purchasing a warranty is an individual decision for you to make; I can however provide some guidelines that will hopefully make the process easier.
Is a One-Year Warranty Enough?
This is the classic question – is the standard warranty sufficient? A one-year warranty is the industry norm for consumer notebooks. Chances are if something in the notebook is going to fail due to a manufacturing defect, it will happen within the first year of ownership.
At the very least, never settle for less than a one-year warranty. Several years ago Dell sold very low-priced notebooks with 90-day warranties – offers like that should immediately throw up some flags in the back of your mind.
If you do not carry your notebook around often or expose it to excessive climate conditions such as high heat or moisture, a one-year warranty is probably sufficient. However, if you are a student or business professional that moves around a lot and is not always so gentle with your notebook, it may be worthwhile to invest in a two-year warranty; adding accidental damage protection and theft protection may also be in your interest depending on the type of person you are.
How Much Should I Spend?
How much you should spend depends mostly on how much the notebook costs. In general, an extended warranty should not exceed 20% of the notebook’s price. Think about it in practical terms: from an investment standpoint, does it really make sense to spend $1,400 for a notebook only worth $1,000 (40% extra)?
Based on the notebook’s price, I break it down as follows:
- Less than $800: it is probably not worth extending the warranty of inexpensive laptops unless the price is nominal (i.e. less than $100).
- $900-1,500: a two-year warranty probably makes sense here; considering it is a larger investment, spending $150-250 is reasonable to guarantee several years of use.
- $2,000+: on a purchase this large you should have at the very least a two-year warranty; consider bumping it up to a three-year. Spending $250-350 on an extended warranty would not be unreasonable for a notebook this expensive.
Warranty Buying Guide
As you can probably tell, warranty buying is subjective and there is no “best” answer – but there are better choices. In this next section I am going to provide a short questionnaire you can answer in your head to get an idea of what kind of warranty coverage is recommended for you.
There are two categories of questions; make a mental note of how many of each you answered “yes” in both of them.
- Do you consider computers to be longer-term investments i.e. plan to use them for several years or more?
- Do you consider it essential to have warranty coverage while depending on the product?
Accidental Damage Warranty
- Do you travel with your notebook several times per week or more?
- Are you sometimes not so gentle with your notebook (i.e. tossing your notebook bag in the car, not setting it down easily on the table, etc.)?
- Do you use your notebook in situations where there is some possibility it could get damaged due to negligence (for example, if you live in a house with cats or dogs and you keep drinks in spill range of your notebook)?
If you answered yes to either of the questions under the extended warranty section, an extended warranty makes sense for you. The cheapest way to get an extended warranty is to buy the notebook with a credit card that will extend the warranty for you automatically. The credit card companies we looked at in this article will extend the manufacturer’s warranty up to one additional year when certain cards are used to make the purchase.
If you answered a solid yes to at least one question in the accidental damage warranty section, an accidental damage warranty is worth considering. Look at your personal history with electronics – how many have you broken out of clumsiness or related? If you answered yes to two or more questions, an accidental damage warranty deserves additional consideration; use your judgment.
Remember that spending more than 20% above what the notebook itself costs on a warranty is not cost-effective.
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