How To Find A Low-Cost Computer

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If you’re in a low-income family, it can feel impossible to find a computer in your price range. It’s true that it will be difficult, but with some patience and luck, you might be able to find an affordable computer. Here’s where to start looking.


The bad news is that there aren’t many national nonprofits that donate computers to low income families. Try reaching out to the Computer Technology Assistance Corps, Computers with Causes, or The On It Foundation. Note that each has its own requirements and that some charge an application fee, so make sure you understand the terms before you apply. If you don’t have any luck with those programs, try a larger nonprofit, such as The Salvation Army. They may be able to point you in the right direction.    

eBay + Craigslist

Craigslist and eBay are two great options for cheap computers. On eBay, you can search nationwide listings, and you can filter the results by categories such as  brand, condition, and price. Some listings have to be bid on, like an auction, but many allow you to “Buy It Now.”  

Craigslist, on the other hand, allows you to search local listings. The selection is more limited and less organized, but you can still find some good deals. Occasionally, you’ll even be able to find computers in the “free” section.

Thrift Store

This isn’t a common thrift store item, but you can get a great deal if they manage to have one in stock. Thrift stores get new inventory on a regular basis, so check later if you don’t find what you’re looking for.

Box Stores

This is a longshot, but try looking at big box store websites such as Best Buy, Walmart, and Target. They often have sales, and you might find something in your price range.

Libraries and Community Centers

It’s not ideal, but if you’re unable to buy a computer, your local library or community center will probably have computers available to the public. Usually, you’ll have to reserve your time in advance.  

Keep in mind that most of these computers won’t have warranties, so you won’t be able to return them if something goes wrong. As with any secondhand item, pay attention to the description before buying, and don’t give money to anyone if you’re not comfortable.  


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