It’s not just that Macs aren’t expensive in the first place — so are most / all of Apple products — but they are significantly more expensive in India than in The U.S. This is in-line with all electronics in general but the gap is further felt at the high priced spectrum.
This guide focuses on Macbooks because Apple laptops are easier to transport and retain their one year international warranty. iPhones and iPads (with cellular) do not, so they present a higher risk. iMacs of course are too cumbersome to carry over international waters. The only downside would be losing the box (the person carrying it has to pretend they own the laptop to avoid duties) and the plug type, which is less of an issue with the multi-support sockets being used today.
So first things first; the most common mistake is to judge the Apple Store’s prices as final. Note that it does not include tax because the tax varies per state and is calculated at checkout. It makes a big difference to the total price; at the time of writing living in New York tax adds 8.875% and living in New Hampshire exempts you from tax altogether.
Add to this your credit card conversion rate; I find it good practice to pay directly and ship it rather than pay someone in rupees when they earn in dollars. Banks typically charge a 4% surcharge over whatever the ongoing rate is. So if we put this altogether:
A $2000 Mac will cost you (2000 x 1.08875 x 1.04) in New York i.e. $2265 which can then be multiplied with the ongoing rate. Currently at 64.50 rupees to a dollar, that comes to ₹1,46,000 which is still lesser than Apple’s pricing for the $2000 13-inch Macbook Pro in India, which amounts to ₹1,71,900. That’s a tidy 15% savings.
But let’s evaluate some options for further savings:
1) Tax exemption – While buying from the Apple Store is the most trusted — including no questions asked returns — The U.S. tax regulations does have one peculiarity; if you do not have a physical presence in a state (Amazon is excluded), you are exempt from charging sales tax for online orders. So in this case, reasonably reputed sellers at B&H Photo and Aldorama can lower the price to ₹1,36,000 on the earlier deal, if you order it to a place outside New York or New Jersey.
2) Refurbished – Even though the Indian Government has banned Apple from subsidising product prices through refurbished sales, it’s very much an acceptable practice in America. The Apple Store in particular is highly recommended for providing almost blemish-free, quality products with the same one year warranty. An option to extend it is also available. In fact, in some cases the quality is better than the original as they fix the issues present in the first supply runs of a new design. A lot of the times the products are close to brand new, either because a customer returned it within the first week or a case of Apple clearing out their unused inventory after a new model releases. A $2000 laptop typically retails for $1699 before tax, and often can go down to as low as $1609. If you’re keeping count, that’s ₹1,17,500.
3) Deals – Yes, it is possible to cut down even further. Apple Insider is key here; they regularly have deals with B&H Photo and Aldorama to reduce the base price of Macs (among other Apple products) and I’ve found them to be of amazing value. $100 discounts are common 2 months after launch, and go up to $300 on an older model. The savings are even higher when Apple Care is bundled. At present, the $2000 laptop goes for $1740 and at no tax, that amounts to ₹1,16,700. Apart from this there’s also Mac Prices, which acts like a daily deal tracker for all stores, including Apple’s Refurbished section.
All in all, even though Macs go for a rate well below their MRP, it’s a substantial savings if you know someone residing in The U.S. and coming down. Better yet, it’s advisable to keep an eye on the price drops to take advantage of the best deal. And honestly, their current climate has already done us a favour by bringing the exchange rate this low.