The best time to buy appliances is when prices dip the lowest, and that depends on which appliance you’re talking about. But the best place to buy appliances is far simpler—because a retailer’s pricing, selection and service tends to be true across appliance categories. That’s the reason both Amazon and Abt Electronics and Appliances have been at the top of Consumer Reports’ survey of best appliance stores for the past eight years (and Amazon has been at the top for the past 12).
This year’s survey
The 2018 survey, which rated a total of 62,000 appliance purchases made from spring 2016 through spring 2017 at 30 chain retailers, as well as independent retailers and manufacturers, was no different, with both Amazon and Abt landing at the top. Here’s a quick roundup of the best of the best places to buy appliances.
The winner’s circle
Three out of every five small appliance purchases are made on Amazon. Among the online retailer’s strengths: prices, selection, shipping terms, and site user-friendliness. It also offers cash-back and a generous return policy on applicable purchases made by Prime customers. Need more convincing? Check out these amazing small kitchen appliances that were available on the most recent Amazon Prime Day.
Family-owned, Chicago-based Abt Electronics and Appliances, which has been around since 1936, has been making quite the impression on consumers in the last decade, winning the Better Business Award for Marketplace Ethics and ranking at the top of Consumer Reports‘ annual appliance stores survey. It received top scores for selection, shipping, and overall shopping experience. In terms of pricing, Abt scored high marks, though wasn’t number one. But the overall experience and selection is worth the slight bump in price.
Costco scored the top rating for price in Consumer Reports‘ survey. However, it wasn’t rated nearly as highly for its selection, though that’s not surprising considering it’s a warehouse store and therefore has a limited number of items for sale at any given time. Costco doesn’t have a price-matching guarantee, but if it lowers its own price for any particular item within 30 days of purchase, it will provide a refund in the amount of the price difference. Costco also has a generous return policy, with almost no time limit on your decision as to whether the appliance you purchased is a “keeper.”
Lowe’s, which sells about 25% of all major appliances purchased by survey participants, came ranked number 15 (with a number of local and independent stores stealing the higher spots). Two great things to know about Lowe’s: First, its price match guarantee is quite generous. If you find a lower price on an identical item at a local or online retail competitor (including shipping and delivery fees), Lowe’s will match that price, although there are exceptions, such as for closeouts and for installation fees. In addition, Lowe’s charges less for extended warranties and service contracts on refrigerators and washing machines than Best Buy, Home Depot and Sears.
Number 16 overall on the list of best places to buy appliances, Best Buy also offers a nice price match guarantee—at the time of sale, they match all local retail competitors, including online prices, and products shipped from and sold by several major retailers, including Amazon, Dell, HP and Newegg.
Overall, these big store names are a great bet for getting the best appliance deal. Looking for something smaller? You can see our top-rated small appliances and kitchen gear here.