Apple has officially launched its annual report Back to school Promotion. As expected earlier this week, this year the company has returned to offering gift cards with qualifying educational purchases rather than releasing a set of Beats or AirPods.
Of course, you can still use your Apple Gift Card to buy Beats or AirPods if that’s what you want, but the new promo opens up a world of new possibilities.
Apple Macs and iPads still get the usual educational discounts. The back-to-school promotion doesn’t change that, so you’re still saving $50 or more on an iPad and $100 or more on a Mac. However, in addition to these savings, you will also receive a gift card.
Gift card values are also quite simple. Buy any of the following Macs and Apple will give you a $150 Apple Gift Card:
- MacBook Air (M1 or M2)
- 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2 model only)
- 14-inch MacBook Pro (M1 Pro or M1 Max)
- 16-inch MacBook Pro (M1 Pro or M1 Max)
- 24 inch iMac
Notably, the upcoming MacBook Air M2 is included in this year’s Back to School deal, although it won’t hit stores until next month. This should give most students a great incentive to wait, as the promotion runs until September 26 in the United States.
Although this year’s lineup focuses exclusively on Apple Silicon Macs, the Mac mini and Mac Studio are conspicuously absent. The ultra-powerful Mac Studio is an understandable omission, as it’s not aimed at students, but Apple clearly thinks the same applies to its smaller Mac mini.
The Back to School iPad promotion is also limited to Apple M1-equipped iPad Air and iPad Pro devices. In addition to the regular educational discount for these, Apple will provide a $100 Apple Gift Card.
As usual, the iPhone isn’t on the list at all. The last time Apple included the iPhone in a back-to-school promotion was in 2014.
Apple Gift Cards
Although Apple’s back-to-school promotions gave out gift cards years ago, the company switched to offering Beats headphones in 2015 and then AirPods for its 2020 promotion.
The Beats headphones era offered some of the best deals if you wanted a pair of headphones. For example, in 2015 Apple included the $200 Beats Solo 2 with the same level of purchase that previously only guaranteed a $100 gift card.
However, when it switched to AirPods two years ago, it dropped to the base AirPods 2 at $159 with the standard charging case. Customers could pay the $40 difference to upgrade to the wireless charging case or $90 to get the AirPods Pro, but the promotion’s base value was still $159.
So this year, a $150 gift card with a Mac is about what Apple did. You can still apply that $150 to a set of AirPods if you want, even the AirPods Max, which was excluded from last year’s promotion.
What’s better, however, is that you’re not stuck with headphones. Apple Gift Cards can be used for anything sold in an Apple Store, retail or online, and thanks to Apple’s new “All Apple” Universal Gift Cards, they can also be used for purchases and digital subscriptions to the App Store, iTunes Store, and other Apple services.
In other words, you can turn your $150 Apple Gift Card into a one-year subscription to Apple One or a few years of Apple Music. Or you can spend it on apps or in-app purchases for your favorite games. Load the gift card into your Apple ID balance, and any expenses or subscriptions will be charged to that balance instead of your credit or debit card.
Apple’s Back to School promotion is available only to eligible education customers, which in the United States means “current and newly accepted students and their parents, as well as faculty, staff, and homeschoolers from all levels”. Requirements in other countries may vary; for example, in Canada, Apple defines this as “university and college students and their parents, as well as lecturers and other staff,” excluding K-12 teachers.