The backup plan

While you’re counting costs for the holiday shopping season, be sure to factor in a warranty.

Connor Nikolic

Prepare yourselves for battle, fellow students. The holiday shopping season is on the horizon, and we must be ready when it arrives. Stock your cash reserve, find a few comrades for your journey and keep in mind the benefits of a good warranty.

Yes, I said a warranty. Like my fellow thrifty young adults, I used to blow off protecting those electronic impulse buys with warranty plans. I thought I was careful with my technology, until I dropped my iPhone last month. The fall shattered the screen corner to corner, covering the fragile glass with cracks.

Apple devices

Because I didn’t purchase an AppleCare warranty plan along with my phone, I looked to get the screen repaired elsewhere. The bill would be about $150. I am doomed trying to read texts through a cracked screen for a year because I don’t have the money to fix it.

AppleCare plans for the iPhone 5s and 5c cover the phone for two years. Repairs for accidental damage, like cracking the screen or dropping the phone in the toilet, cost $79 per incident for up to two incidents. But it’s possible that distracted students might need more than two repairs over their phone’s lifetime.

Of course, most shopping over the holiday season will not be directly tied to iPhone purchases and Apple products. TV sets, game consoles, computers and tablets will all be big sellers. Consider a warranty plan to protect your purchase.

Few plans are the same, and you need to fully understand what yours covers before doling out the extra dough.

For example, I wouldn’t recommend getting an AppleCare plan for a new Apple TV. A plan costs about one-third of the price of a device, and you won’t likely need repairs.

Next-generation gaming consoles

The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will hit shelves in the next couple of weeks, at the onset of the shopping season. The next generation of gaming consoles — the Xbox One, Wii U and PS4  — should come with a standard one-year limited warranty, but if you’re in it for the long haul, you should consider an extended warranty.

For example, the PS4’s extended warranty costs $50 to $60 with accidental damage coverage. Xbox One and Wii U consoles will have extended warranties available through retailers.

I’m not sure how you’d accidentally damage a device that primarily sits beneath your TV stand or in your entertainment center. However, I’d be willing to spend an extra $50 after all of the problems I’ve had with both Microsoft and Sony consoles. Gaming consoles are also a hefty investment (the PS4 costs $400), so a warranty is crucial.

Buying a warranty is up to you. Just make sure you do your research before declining protection for a big-ticket item. When things go awry, it’s always good to have a backup plan.