Buying from Online Marketplaces Before Buying a Used Mac: A Comprehensive Guide

Back to the “Used Mac Buying Guide

Avoid the potential issue below by buying from these high quality sources:

Online marketplaces like eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace offer a vast selection of used Macs, often at lower prices than certified refurbished retailers. However, buying from these sources also comes with its own risks and considerations. Here’s a comprehensive guide to navigating online marketplaces when purchasing a used Mac:

1. Understand the Platform

Each online marketplace operates differently. It’s important to understand how each one works, how transactions are processed, and what protections are in place for buyers.

2. Check Seller’s Reputation

  • eBay: eBay uses a feedback system. Check the seller’s feedback score and read through the comments left by previous buyers. A high feedback score and positive comments usually indicate a reliable seller.
  • Facebook Marketplace/Craigslist: These platforms do not have as robust a feedback system as eBay. Be extra cautious, meet in a public place if you’re buying in person, and consider bringing a friend.

3. Analyze the Listing

Carefully read the product description. Look for details about the Mac’s condition, specs, and any included accessories. Be wary of listings with vague descriptions or stock photos. Authentic sellers will typically provide clear, detailed information and actual photos of the device.

4. Contact the Seller

Don’t hesitate to contact the seller if you have any questions. Their responsiveness and willingness to provide additional information can indicate their reliability.

5. Check for Protection Programs

  • eBay: eBay offers a Money Back Guarantee, which covers you if the item doesn’t arrive or isn’t as described in the listing.
  • Facebook Marketplace: Facebook does not offer any specific protection program for Marketplace transactions, so be sure to use a secure payment method and avoid wiring money.
  • Craigslist: Craigslist doesn’t offer buyer protection and encourages local, in-person transactions. Always meet in a safe, public location.

6. Secure Payment

Pay through secure methods that offer buyer protection, such as PayPal. Avoid wire transfers or gift cards, as these are often associated with scams. Never send money without seeing the item first.

7. Inspect Before Finalizing Purchase

If buying in person, thoroughly inspect the Mac before handing over your money. Check the screen, keyboard, ports, battery health, and make sure it boots up correctly. For eBay purchases, do this inspection as soon as the item arrives.


Online marketplaces can be a great place to find a deal on a used Mac. However, the process requires careful consideration, from assessing the seller’s reliability to inspecting the Mac itself. With thorough research and a cautious approach, you can mitigate risks and increase your chances of a successful purchase. Always remember: if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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