Black Friday 2013: U.S. Apple stores offer gift cards instead of discounts on iPad, Mac products

The company's discounts used to be small, but this year they have been replaced with store gift cards with the purchase of select Apple products and third-party accessories.


Apple watchers woke up Thanksgiving morning to a new wrinkle in the company's typical Black Friday plans. Instead of the usual small discounts the company offered across most of its product lines in years past, the Australian Apple Store launched with gift cards being promoted for the purchase of many items instead. Then to confuse things more, European Apple Stores came online after midnight with the typical discounts, and not the gift cards.

What would Apple do in the U.S.? After the online store went down for a few hours this morning, it's returned with the same Black Friday gift card "deal" as greeted Aussie shoppers. In other words, there will be no sale prices for products sold at Apple stores this Black Friday, just gift cards.

If you're still willing to buy directly from Apple today, be prepared for further disappointment if you're planning to buy an iPhone 5c or 5s or the iPad mini with Retina display. That's because Apple isn't offering a gift for these popular new products. In comparison, Walmart will provide a $75 gift card if you pick up a 5c or 5s at its stores this weekend, and Target is offering a $75 card for an iPad mini with Retina display purchase.

You will receive a $75 Apple gift card if you buy an iPad Air, which is $25 less than what Target is offering on Black Friday  if you purchase the tablet from that store. You can get a $50 gift card with the purchase of an original iPad mini or an iPad 2 -- Walmart offered a $100 gift card for an iPad mini purchase yesterday as part of its first round of doorbusters, while Best Buy matched it online earlier this week. Target is offering $75 gift cards for the first-generation iPad mini and $100 cards for an iPad 2. 

Those looking for a new Mac can score a $150 Apple gift card, whether you're grabbing a new iMac or a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. Note, however, that Best Buy is slashing the price on Macs for Black Friday , either by $150 or $200 depending on the configuration. Though a gift card is nice if you're planning on buying other in-store purchases, when it comes to systems, the lower price is probably preferable to most buyers. 

The iPod is still around and kicking, and will be part of the Black Friday gift card fest. The iPod touch comes with a $50 card, while the latest iPod nano includes a $25 card. Some miscellaneous Apple products are also being offered with gift cards, ranging from the Apple TV ($25 card) to the AirPort Extreme and 2TB AirPort Time Capsule ($50). 

Finally, there are some third-party accessories that Apple will sell with gift cards worth up to $75. Many will include a $25 card, such as the Nike+ FuelBand SE, Powerbeats by Dr. Dre headphones, and Mophie Juice Pack Air iPhone 5 battery case, while purchases of such items as the second-generation Nest Learning Thermostat, GoPro HERO3+ camera, and Beats by Dr. Dre Studio headphones will come with a $50 card. Buying the $499.95 Bowers & Wilkins A5 AirPlay wireless music system nets you a $75 gift card.