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How to Get the Best Deal on a New Dell Computer

by Ryan Guina

My Christmas present to myself this year was a new Dell laptop. Well, I say it was a Christmas present to myself, but I plan on using it strictly for business, so it was really a business expense that came around Christmas. Those details aside, I’ll share with you how I saved almost $250 on my new Dell laptop. It’s easy, and you can do the same thing.

Why Dell? There are several reasons why I chose Dell for my new computer. I first had to decide between a MacBook and a PC, and in the end I chose PC. Then I had to determine which features were important to me on a PC. One of the most important factors was the OS – I did not want Vista. Dell is one of the few companies that still offers new computers with Windows XP. I was able to purchase a Dell small business computer with Windows XP Professional (it also came with a copy of Windows Vista that I can upgrade to later).

How to get the best deal on a Dell Computer

Whether you want a laptop or a desktop, you can always find a deal on a Dell computer. The key is knowing where to look. The short version is to see if you are eligible for an Employee Purchase Program (EPP) through your work, school, or via a spouse or relative. Sign in through your EPP and determine how much money you can save. Then try the following method and compare your costs. For me, the following method saved me more money than I would have saved through my EPP.

Sign up for Ebates

Ebates is an online rebate company that gives users rebates on online purchases made through their portal (Ebates review). Ebates offers rebates ranging from 1-4% on Dell computers, depending on the deals available at the time and whether you buy a made to order computer or a computer from their outlet. I recommend buying from their outlet as you’ll soon see.

Visit the Dell Outlet

There are two different Dell Outlets: Dell Outlet Home & Home Office and Dell Outlet Business & Education. I recommend visiting the business and education outlet because the Dell Business computers have a couple advantages over the home and home office computers: they are usually priced slightly lower, and they don’t come with the bloatware (software addons and trialware) that Dell home computers are notorious for including.

Don’t have a business? Don’t worry; You just need to create an account with Dell. If they ask, you can tell them you have a sole proprietorship and you plan on using your computer to work from home. You can use your name as the name of your business (just like signing up for a business credit card).

Select your computer from the Dell Outlet

The Dell Outlet classifies their computers as Previously Ordered New, Certified Refurbished, and Scratch and Dent. All three types are tested, fully guaranteed, and come with a full warranty.

Previously Ordered New. Dell’s business model is a “Pull” business model, which means they ship computers as they are ordered – that way they don’t have to store inventory (which ties up resources). Previously Ordered New Computers were ordered new and either never shipped because the order was canceled or the computer was returned before it was turned on. This computer is brand new and has no defects.

Certified Refurbished. These computers were returned for a defect, which has since been repaired and tested. These computers come with the full manufacturer’s warranty.

Scratch and Dent. These computers are just what the name implies – they have a cosmetic blemish. Unfortunately, you don’t know what the blemish is until you receive it.

I have saved money buying refurbished electronics in the past, but this time I purchased a Previously Ordered New computer, which is new. Dell discounts these computers so they do not have to keep them in storage until someone orders a new computer with the exact specs. It’s a great way to save a couple hundred dollars! I also felt more comfortable buying a computer that I knew had never had any problems.

Skip the expensive software and upgrades

Dell offers their small business computers at slightly lower prices than their home computers because they know they will eventually more than make up the difference by bringing back repeat customers, selling in bulk, and selling expensive software and peripherals such as printers, storage devices, etc. You can save several hundred dollars by skipping the expensive software and either buying it cheaper elsewhere or using open source alternatives such as Open Office instead of Microsoft Office.

You can also spend less money on RAM or a smaller hard drive if you are comfortable buying and installing aftermarket RAM yourself or storing extra data on an external drive.

Compare computer prices

I opened up several windows in my browser to compare computer prices between the Small & Medium Business shop and the Dell Outlet Business & Education shop. I selected a Previously Ordered New laptop from the Outlet that met my needs. Then I built one to the same specs in the small business shop. The price difference was $240. I also saved almost $10 by ordering it though Ebates, bringing my total savings to almost $250.

I also compared computers from the Home and Home Office Outlet (keeping in mind they come with trialware addons). In the end, the best deal I could find was the laptop from the small business outlet.

Disadvantages of buying an outlet computer

The biggest disadvantage of buying through the Dell Outlet is the lack of options. Because Dell sells computers that are made to order, your choices are limited to the stock on hand. However, I found that by being flexible I was able to save a couple hundred dollars.

More tips on saving money on your next computer:


Published or updated March 1, 2011.
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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Writer's Coin

I’m definitely going to look into this option when I buy my new computer. Nice tip on going into the office/business section to get a better deal! Did you price out the difference between aftermarket RAM and the RAM that comes installed on the machine? I wouldn’t think there would be a huge disparity there in price. But maybe I’m wrong…

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2 Hank

Some business, government agencies, and associations also have discount programs with Dell. The US Army, for example, has a discount deal with the company, and Soldiers can receive a small discount on a new computer. http://www.dell.com/army

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3 FFB

I have to start looking into using my site as a business more! You found a great way to maximize your money.

Another thing to consider is what add-ons are thrown in. Sometimes you can get great rebates on an item like a printer or external memory. When I got my recent laptop there was a rebate on printers so I basically got a free printer to go with the computer. It wasn’t a Dell but I’ve seen great add-ons through them as well.

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4 Ryan

WC: I didn’t price aftermarket RAM – the computer I purchased was set up fine the way it was. But I know that you can find it cheaper sometimes.

Hank: I wrote about the Employee Purchase Program, I the military version is similar. It’s a great program that Dell offers though!

FFB: When you are running a business, you have to maximize all your returns! I agree that the addons can make deals more enticing. Earlier this year Apple was including a free iPod Touch and $100 coupon with the purchase of a MacBook (available to students and educators). That was an awesome deal, and I thought about buying a MacBook then and selling the iPod Touch to reduce my overall cost! Dell often includes package deals as well. But they are usually only worth it if you need the item, otherwise, go for the cheaper deal and buy the accessory when you need it, not because it is on sale.

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5 Craig

Did you end up buying through the Outlet or refurbished model. When I bought my Macbook Pro they had great rebates as well. Free printer, free itouch. PC’s don’t just offer good rebates, most companies will because they mark it as an additional sale.

I was able to use a family members teacher discount which saved me over $200 and put that towards a 3 yr warranty. Try to get any discount you can, the company will be flexible even if is a family member.

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6 Ryan

Hi Craig, The Dell Outlet has the refurbs, dent and scratch, and the previously ordered new computers in the same place. I purchased a “previously ordered new” Dell from the Dell Outlet.

My sister took advantage of the same deal you did – she got the free Touch and printer. It was a great deal, and one that Apple offers every fall to students and educators.

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