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Securing AppleCare on my new MacBook Pro 2021 proved to be a challenging task

You won’t be shocked to learn that I recently paid $2,799 on a new MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021), therefore you won’t be astonished to learn that I wasn’t going to leave that investment unprotected. This meant I’d have to purchase AppleCare, which is a warranty plan that covers repairs and assistance (including against incidents of accidental damage).

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Unfortunately, the solutions given left me perplexed. Apple offers two options to purchase AppleCare Plus For Mac, both of which left me with questions. “Annual coverage until terminated” for $99.99 each year and “three years of coverage” for $279 are your options at checkout.

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Image credit: Henry T. Casey

Rather of just focusing on the short-term security and moving on, I began to ponder how it all worked. This is largely due to the fact that I consider a laptop (particularly one this pricey) to be a long-term investment. So I dug into the complexity of it all to figure out AppleCare Plus for the Mac’s ins and outs.

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Annual AppleCare Plus for Mac explained

Annual AppleCare Plus for Mac3-year AppleCare Plus For Mac
Price$99 per year$279
Option to renewAnnuallyYou can switch to annual plan after three years
What’s included?24/7 support, Apple-certified repairs (including mail-in for MacBooks)24/7 support, Apple-certified repairs (including mail-in for MacBooks)
Accidental damage protectionUp to two incidents every 12 monthsUp to two incidents every 12 months

Because of the absence of clarification of two things, the proverbial sirens began to sound in my head once I read “Annual coverage until terminated.” “Who’s cancelling?” I thought, before considering “how long can this coverage last?”

I spoke with few folks who were hesitant when I initially tried to contact Apple support by text and phone agents. One appeared to believe it could go on endlessly, while another began discussing monthly payments. I began to wonder whether there was a new Apple One subscription bundle tier that I was unaware of (AppleCare Plus for the iPhone is $9.99 per month).

When I started poking around Apple’s own site, I found the following language on this page about Extend your AppleCare Plus coverage:

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If you paid upfront for an AppleCare+ plan for your Mac, you might be able to purchase new coverage that renews annually.

So I went to my local Apple shop, made an appointment, and waited for answers, which I received. Apple gadgets may stay under AppleCare as long as Apple has the necessary parts, according to the knowledgeable Alison.

A piece of Apple hardware becomes “vintage” (Alison’s word) once the device’s repair parts are no longer available. The timing can vary greatly, but California law requires Apple to allow “service and parts to be obtained for longer, as required by law or for up to 7 years,” subject to parts availability. The time frame for a battery-only repair has been expanded, with Apple claiming “up to 10 years.”

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AppleCare Plus for Mac has a three-year warranty.

It’s much easier this way. If you buy three years of AppleCare Plus for Mac in advance, Apple will give you a $30 discount.

While Apple’s checkout page didn’t mention it, once you’re out of the three-year period, you’ll be able to upgrade to the yearly AppleCare Plus for Mac plan.

I went with this strategy, for what it’s worth. My last MacBook Pro lasted nine years, although it did require some maintenance along the way, so I know I’ll be covered for at least the next three.

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How Annual AppleCare Plus for Mac ends

All that said, there’s the matter of how your AppleCare Plus for Mac plan ends. If you have the three-year plan, it will just end at the end of that time (though you could reach out to Apple to switch to annual). 

If you opt to cancel your plan, it will come to an end when your service is turned off.

However, if your AppleCare coverage must expire due to the above-mentioned component difficulties, you will be notified within 60 days. Then, depending on how much time is left on your plan, you will be offered a prorated refund.

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This is understandable, but I just wish Apple’s website spelled everything out a little more plainly.

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