Who hasn’t gone to Best Buy at least once to buy something? In many cities like my own, it’s the only place where you can go to buy a computer other than the Apple store, and since I’m not a Mac guy, it’s where I go. I also buy many other electronics there, although with other items I at least feel I do have other choices.

Mack Camera, A Good Place for a Camera Warranty
Thomas Hawk via Compfight

Every time I buy something, no matter the cost, it’s pitch time for a warranty on the item. Most of the time I decline the warranty, but there have been occasions where I’ve gone for it. Is there a rule of thumb as to when you should or shouldn’t do it, or should you even consider it at all? Let’s take a look at it.

For me there are two things you have to look at when it comes to a warranty; what the manufacturer is already covering and how much you’re spending on your item. If you notice when it comes to buying a new car you’re not even asked if you want the warranty for the period of time they’re guaranteeing you coverage, but what about a used car, where you’re usually only guaranteed up to 2 years or 60,000 miles?

Most cars these days really don’t start having problems until you get to 75,000 or 80,000 miles, and there’s nothing saying those issues might be severe. Truthfully, when it came close to that time I decided against going that route, even though I still get my oil changed every 5,000 miles at least. I wasn’t putting a lot of miles on my car and it didn’t make any sense. I won that one, as my car runs great even now. But if I was still driving between 20,000 and 30,000 miles, I’d have purchased it in a heartbeat, as I’m someone who’s had two cars kind of blow up on me in areas where one wouldn’t want their car to totally fail on them, and in both cases the cost of repairs was so extreme that it was easier to buy a new vehicle instead.

Let’s look at price then. I don’t even consider buying the warranty for anything under $500. We live in a throwaway world, so it’s just easier to buy something brand new and move on. The only exception is when purchasing a new cellphone or smartphone. You should at least pay for the first year, if not the second, because some plans will replace the entire phone at no cost, and others will cover things such as getting your phone wet or dropping it and having the front crack. Also, you won’t be forced into signing up for a new 2-year plan, although these days it’s not as big a deal as it was in the past.

Anything over $500, that’s when it’s time to look at the warranty. When I bought my laptop a couple of years ago the manufacturer’s warranty covered it for 2 full years, and I could bring it back to where I bought it for repairs that they’d cover, or ship it to them at their cost. In that case it didn’t make sense to pay for the warranty because the way I see it you’ll have gotten your money’s worth back in 2 year’s time, and the cost of paying for the warranty in those two previous years would end up being more than what the laptop would be worth by that time.

But what if you bought something like a new oven or stove? Sure, the price is right, but if something goes wrong it’s not like you can just pick it up and take it in for repairs. Someone has to come to your house to look at it, and now there’s something else to talk about because if it’s beyond the manufacturer’s warranty period, it could cost you a lot of money just to have someone walk in the door; that’s never fun. The same goes for heating and air conditioning systems, or even those 52″ flat screen TVs that, even though they’re lighter than the old TVs, are still unwieldy and would pose a problem in trying to get it back to the store.

Those are the two things to measure; anything else someone mentions to you can be seen as an extra and not really worth considering as much as the other issues. This at least gives you something to consider when asked if you want a warranty, and it’s my belief that you’ll be asked that question again pretty soon.

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