Apple deals $50-$100 store gift cards for back-to-school promo

Educational discounts on the hardware also apply

Apple today began its annual back-to-school promotion in the U.S., reprising a gift card deal for customers who buy eligible hardware.

Customers who buy a Mac between now and Sept. 9 receive a $100 App Store gift card, while those who purchase an iPad, iPad Mini or iPhone receive a $50 card.

This was the fourth year running that Apple has handed out gift cards and maxed the amount of the offer at $100. But the monetary value of Apple's back-to-school offers was once higher: For several years ending in 2010, Apple had given rebates of two or three times as much toward the purchase of an iPod Touch.

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Apple reprised its gift card-based back-to-school promotion, but this year switched from cards for redeeming apps to ones for use in the company's retail and online stores. (Image: Apple.)

Unlike last year, however, when the gift cards were good only for purchases at Apple's various app stores, this year the cards can be redeemed for items bought at the company's online and retail stores.

The promotion gives parents of current college students and incoming freshmen, and teachers and staff members of all grade levels -- including K-12 -- the $100 gift card when they buy a new iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.

The following iPads and iPhones are eligible for the $50 gift card: iPad Air, iPad with Retina, iPad Mini with Retina, iPad Mini, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S. While this was the third year that iPads qualified, it was the first for the iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina, two models that debuted last fall.

Educational discounts for eligible buyers apply, Apple said. Those discounts range from $30 for all iPads to $300 for a top-end Mac. There are no educational discounts for iPhones, even ones purchased at full price without a carrier contract.

MacBook Airs are discounted by $50 for parents of students and for faculty and staff. The discounts on other products are $100 to $200 on MacBook Pros, $50 to $100 on iMacs and $200 to $300 on Mac Pros.

Apple is running similar deals in other markets, including Canada, where the gift card values run from $55 to $110; the U.K., where the cards come in £30 and £60 denominations; and Germany, where the promotion awards €35 to €70 for app purchases.

Details of the U.S. promotion can be found on Apple's website (download PDF).

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter, at @gkeizer, and on Google+, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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