Want the best TV but don't have the budget? Here's how to save hundreds

If you're careful you can save serious amounts of money on the very best TVs

Samsung Q80T
(Image credit: Samsung)

Stop me if you've heard this before. You’re lusting after one of the best TVs but unfortunately, your bank balance says no. You could settle for a lesser model, or you might want to wait for Black Friday deals. But there's another option, and if you're careful you can save hundreds on some of the very best TVS around: for example, a TV that's currently retailing for £1,099 could be yours for as little as £599.

The catch? You need to shop carefully and know exactly what you're looking for and what you’re looking at. If you do, buying a refurbished TV could save you serious cash.

A refurbished TV is a TV that's been sold and returned. It might be returned because of a fault, in which case the manufacturer or their service agent will repair it and put it back on sale. It might be returned because the customer changed their mind. Or it might be returned because it's suffered some minor damage. In each of those examples, the manufacturer or retailer can't sell the TV as brand new, so it goes into the retail channel as "refurbished" or "graded" and sold for considerably less cash.

How to shop for a refurbished TV

When you're considering a refurbished TV it's important to look at the details – and this applies to all kinds of refurbished products. From the best phones to the best Dysons, you'll find lots of discounted products on independent retailers' sites and in places such as eBay's Certified Refurbished section. In recent years I've bought refurbished iPhones, refurbished Dyson vacuums and hairdryers, refurbished laptops, refurbished tablets and refurbished TVs, and I've recommended refurbs to friends and family too. And the advice is the same across all of them: you need to be clear about what the retailer is actually selling and what flaws you're willing to accept.

If a retailer isn't up-front and honest about the condition, walk away.

There are lots of legitimate refurbished TV sources. Amazon (when it's the seller) has Amazon Renewed; Appliances Direct and Box have extensive ranges of refurbs; and some firms including Tesco and Panasonic have dedicated eBay outlets where they sell refurbished TVs. eBay also has its own Certified Refurbished section, which only includes vetted sellers; if you're looking at eBay sellers outside that programme do your homework to find out who they are and what customers have to say about them. 

There are some really good deals out there at all price points. For example today I'm looking at an eBay Certified Refurbished deal, a 55-inch 4K Roku TV down 40% from the RRP and about 20% from the average street price to £269.99. In the description, the seller, who has thousands of positive reviews, explains that “the item shows no to minimal signs of use. It is fully functional and has been professionally refurbished, tested, inspected and cleaned to excellent condition by qualified sellers. The item includes original or new accessories and may come in generic packaging.” At the other end of the scale the Samsung QE85QN900A, which most retailers are selling for £4,999, is available as a refurb for £2,879.99.

And that last one is a good example of why you need to be careful: while it's certified refurbished, if you look in the product description it says the TV is C Grade. Many retailers use a three-tier grading system and while the specifics do differ, as a rule of thumb A grade means perfect, B means some minor cosmetic issues and C may mean more visible issues or, in some cases, dead pixels or other artefacts. If in doubt, ask. And if you don't get a satisfactory answer, walk: there are plenty more refurbished fish in this particular sea.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).