Who hasn’t gone to Best Buy at least once to buy something? In many cities like my own, it’s the only place where you can go to buy a computer other than the Apple store, and since I’m not a Mac guy, it’s where I go. I also buy many other electronics there, although with other items I at least feel I do have other choices.

Mack Camera, A Good Place for a Camera Warranty

Thomas Hawk via Compfight

Every time I buy something, no matter the cost, it’s pitch time for a warranty on the item. Most of the time I decline the warranty, but there have been occasions where I’ve gone for it. Is there a rule of thumb as to when you should or shouldn’t do it, or should you even consider it at all? Let’s take a look at it.

For me, there are two things you have to look at when it comes to a warranty; what the manufacturer is already covering and how much you’re spending on your item. If you notice, when it comes to buying a new car you’re not even asked if you want the warranty for the period of time. They’re guaranteeing you coverage, sometimes up to 100,000 miles, but what about a used car, where you’re usually only guaranteed up to 2 years or 60,000 miles, including what’s already been used?

Most cars these days really don’t start having problems until you get to 75,000 or 80,000 miles, and there’s nothing saying those issues might be severe. Truthfully, when it came close to that time I decided against going that route, even though I still get my oil changed every 5,000 miles at least. I wasn’t putting a lot of miles on my car and it didn’t make any sense.

My present car runs great, even though it’s a 2014 Kia Cadenza, but over the last few years I’m putting less than 5,000 miles a year on it. But if I was still driving between 20,000 and 30,000 miles like I was previously, I’d have purchased the extended warranty in a heartbeat. I’m someone who’s had two cars kind of blow up on me in areas where one wouldn’t want their car to totally fail on them, and in both cases the cost of repairs was so extreme that it was easier to buy a new vehicle instead (though one time I did try having the engine replaced, assuming that the warranty would cover a brand new engine; instead, they refurbished an engine and car never ran properly afterwards).

Let’s look at price of the produce you’re purchasing. I don’t even consider buying the warranty for anything under $500. We live in a throwaway world, so it’s easier to buy something brand new and move on. The only exception is when purchasing a new cellphone or smartphone. You should at least pay for the first year because some plans will replace the entire phone at no cost and you’ll probably get the same phone that was just damaged.

However, if you pay for 2-years or an extended “cover everything” warranty, you could find yourself with a totally different brand of phone, as well as an exorbitant cost of trying to fix your current phone, even with the extended warranty. That happened with a previous phone I had. I bought it at Verizon, then something happened to it. I took it back to the Verizon store and the cost of repairing it was $150, even under warranty. I said I wasn’t paying anything like that, and the guy looked around, then got close to me and said “take it to one of the phone repair kiosks; it’ll cost you less.” That’s what I did; it cost me $35 and only took 15 minutes to repair.

It’s amazing the things you learn, and in my case I purchased my next smartphone on eBay, saved $250 off the cost of what it would have cost in Verizon, bought it unlocked so all I had to do was transfer the SIM card from my original phone to the new phone and I was immediately covered; whew!

Anything over $500, that’s when it’s time to look at the warranty. When I bought my laptop at Best Buy some years ago, the manufacturer’s warranty covered it for 2 full years, and I could bring it back to where I bought it for repairs that they’d cover, or ship it to the manufacturer’s at their cost. In that case it didn’t make sense to pay for an the warranty, because the way I see it I’d have gotten my money’s worth back in 2 year’s time. The cost of paying for the extended warranty in those two previous years would end up being more than what the laptop would be worth by that time. However, if I’d gone for the $1,500 laptop, which I kicked myself later for not purchasing, I’d definitely have paid for the extended warranty because all parts were included.

What if you bought something like a new oven or refrigerator? Even if the price is right, if something goes wrong it’s not like you can just pick it up and take it in for repairs. Someone has to come to your house to look at it, and now there’s something else to talk about because if it’s beyond the manufacturer’s warranty period, it could cost you a lot of money just to have someone walk in the door; that’s never fun.

The same goes for heating and air conditioning systems, or even those 65″ flat screen TVs that, even though they’re lighter than the old TVs, are still unwieldy and would pose a problem in trying to get it back to the store. Still, if you paid over $1,000 and your original warranty doesn’t cover at least 2 years, it makes sense to think about purchasing the extended warranty.

Those are the two things to measure, price and length of the original coverage. Anything else someone mentions to you can be seen as an extra and not really worth considering as much as the other issues. This at least gives you something to consider when asked if you want a warranty, and it’s my belief that you’ll be asked that question again pretty soon.