Big Changes for AppleCare on Laptops and Desktops

Though Apple didn’t give it much fanfare, the AppleCare Protection Plan recently got renamed to AppleCare +. Let’s review the details as well as what you need to do today if you want coverage.

Apple’s extended warranty program underwent a major change for MacBooks at WWDC in June. Though Apple didn’t give it much fanfare, the AppleCare Protection Plan got renamed AppleCare + and now includes accidental damage protection. If you bought a MacBook within the past 60 days, you’d need to act now if you want protection.

How AppleCare Protection Plan (APP) Used to Work

When you buy a MacBook, you have up to one year to buy the extended warranty.  It covered manufacturing defects and hardware failure but excluded any accidental damage.  If you dropped it, you were out of luck.  Of course, they’d sometimes cover the repair if they couldn’t detect an accident.

You could buy your APP from any source and then just “attach” it to your Apple serial number.  That meant you could buy it from a cheaper third-party source or even eBay.  That feature was great if you had a gift card or tried playing a credit-card points game.


Photo by Andrew*

I liked the buy-later feature because it lets me spread my spending a bit.  For my business, I’d buy the laptop in one fiscal year and then buy protection in the next.  I bought a refurbished MacBook right after the WWDC announcement and learned the hard way I can’t easily do this under Apple’s new guidelines.

How AppleCare + Works Now

With the discontinuation of the APP, Apple’s now covering water damage and screen cracks.  These calamities are a common mishap laptops face.  This type of insurance makes it more in line with third-party offerings, similar to that of iPhone insurance.

If you damage the screen under AppleCare + the repair costs you a $99 deductible.  All other damage is a $299 deductible. That’s a huge saving from actual repair costs, which are typically 50% of the value of the computer.  Under APP, if you got your screen fixed by a third party, your extended warranty with Apple was void.  Applecare + keeps your full warranty intact but saves you money.

These changes apply to Apple desktop computers like the iMac and MacMini.  You’re unlikely to damage the screen on either of those, but drops and water spills are still possible.

Why You Can’t Wait to Buy AppleCare +

With this new feature of AppleCare +, Apple probably noticed a loophole.  If you damaged your MacBook within the first year, you could just buy AppleCare + and get it covered.  Not so fast!

Apple has some new rules with AppleCare +.  If you don’t buy it with your Mac, Apple says you need to either run a remote diagnostic or bring it to an Apple Store for inspection.  You must do either within 60 days of buying your Mac, or you can’t buy AppleCare +.  I also learned the hard way that if you’re buying your Mac through an Employee Purchase Program (EPP), you can’t buy the AppleCare at a discount after the fact.  Fortunately, I was able to work with Apple directly for some other options.


Photo by dantekgeek

Because of these changes to the AppleCare + program, you’re unlikely to find it being sold on third-party sites.  Your options are to buy it within those 60 days from Apple or buy it with the computer.

Apple does give you a few bonuses when you buy AppleCare + with the computer.  These are leftovers from the old APP, but not everyone knew these benefits.  It covers not just the computer but accessories like adapter, USB SuperDrive, and even the Airport router.

What If You Waited Too Long?

Non-Apple Protection

If you bought your Mac more than 60 days ago, you’re not 100% out of luck.  You can’t buy AppleCare +, but you have a few options.  We covered these other options with iPhones, but the same rules apply to desktop and laptop computers. They include:

  • Credit cards extend warranties and extra years and include 90 days of accidental damage protection.
  • Third-party tech insurance through companies like SquareTrade.
  • Purchasing insurance through your homeowner’s or business insurance.

Try to buy the old AppleCare Protection Plan

Since APP was sold as a separate product, some retailers may have inventory.  As of this writing, Apple was still allowing people to register devices under the old plan.  Time’s running out, though, because once these places sell off their old APP boxes, they won’t be getting new ones.  Check your local Apple Authorized Service Provider, too;  they’re a great choice for Apple products outside the Apple store.

If those options don’t pan out, you might have success calling Apple directly to buy into the old program.  That’s what I considered for my MacBook.  I didn’t need the accidental protection, but I wanted the extended warranty on the hardware.  They were able to take my credit card over the phone and register it online.  Again, only Apple knows when they’ll discontinue that option.

Waiting a call

Photo by KadKarlis

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

If you thought about buying AppleCare, you’d need to act within those first 60 days.  If you’re in the window of 61-364 days, you’ll need to consider some of the other options we recommend.  Most important, going forward, you’ll need to buy AppleCare + when you buy your Mac.  Otherwise, you’ll jump through some additional hoops to verify your Mac isn’t broken.



  1. Jack Cunningham

    October 3, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Hi Dave,

    You’re article saved my butt….I think….

    I bought a refurbished Macbook Pro about 32 days ago from Apple online. I didn’t buy the AppleCare +.

    So, of course yesterday it fell off the couch and the screen hit the table. It didn’t break the screen glass, but it sure broke something underneath because now I have a kaleidoscope of colors emanating from the impact point.

    I looked up Applecare+ and sure enough as you said, I can still purchase it for $269, and it will cover my screen with a $99 deductible, but it said that if I purchase it online or by phone, that Apple will run a “Remote Diagnostic Test”.

    I didn’t know if they could pick up the screen damage, but I gave it a try. The purchase went through successfully, and no Remote Testing was done.

    Have you heard of this before? Any idea if the remote testing would have picked up the screen?

    Thanks very much,


  2. Jack Cunningham

    October 3, 2017 at 7:47 am

    By the way, I did run the built in Apple Diagnostic Test (it wasn’t a remote test) by holding down the D button at startup, and it didn’t find any problems.


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