Forget the Apple Store Black Friday gift card offer. Here’s where to get even better prices on Apple products

The Apple Store’s Black Friday deals are here, and they aren’t much. 

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2020, CNET’s gift picks with expert advice, reviews and recommendations for the latest tech gifts for you and your family.

Black Friday sales are in full swing, and prices are fluctuating wildly. But if you’re quick, at the time of this writing, you can score the AirPods Pro for $170, the new 2020 eighth-generation iPad for $280 or an Apple Watch Series 6 for $350 at Amazon or Best Buy. At the Apple Store, those same products will run you $50 to $79 more — but you’ll get a gift card for a future purchase. That, in a nutshell, is the problem with Apple’s Black Friday “deal” offering: The company effectively never cuts prices and just dangles gift cards instead. The current promotion runs now through Cyber Monday, Nov. 30, with gift cards up to $150, depending on the item purchased.

In fact, that $150 gift card is a rarity, and only available if you purchase either an Intel-equipped MacBook Pro 16-inch or 21.5-inch iMac. Other Macs, including the new 13-inch MacBook Pro that features Apple’s M1 chip, are not eligible. Neither are the new MacBook Air, Mac Mini, larger 27-inch iMac or iMac Pro. If you can still find a 13-inch Intel-equipped MacBook Air or Intel-equipped 13-inch MacBook Pro with two Thunderbolt ports you could get a $50 Apple Store gift card. As Apple has discontinued both models, you’d have to find one of these in a physical Apple Store. 

Beyond the Macs, most new Apple gear is not eligible for the gift card promotion. You could get a $50…