Thinking About Surface Plus

Posted on August 2, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 28 Comments

Thinking About Surface Plus

Yesterday, Microsoft announced a flexible new way for individuals and businesses to finance Surface device purchases. What does this look like in practice?

I’m going to focus on Surface Plus for individuals here, but there is one major difference between this and the business version: Only Surface Plus for Business is truly flexible in that it allows you to finance devices over 18, 24, or 30 month periods. With Surface Plus for individuals, your only choice is 24 months.

That makes the math easy since Microsoft is offering 0 percent financing for the initial 24 month period. But you should know that the rate goes up to 19.99 percent after that first 24 months. So this may not be a great choice for those who wish to get a new device after 18 months (which is one of the perks of the program).

But the lack of flexibility also means that you can’t stretch out the payments over the lifetime of the device. Most people who spend $1000 or more on a premium PC like Surface will hopefully use it for more than 24 months. And 30 months (or more) of financing would help keep the monthly payments lower.

Getting beyond that, I visited the Surface Plus website to see what it would be like to finance a Surface Laptop and compare that to buying it outright.

Looking at the Surface website for comparison purposes, I see that I could purchase a Core i5/8 GB/256 GB model for $1299 directly from Microsoft. (I’d prefer 16 GB of RAM, but Microsoft’s PCs are not as configurable as those from other PC makers, and you have to upgrade to a Core i7 as well to make that choice.) At 0 percent financing, again, the math is easy: $1299 divided by 24 is $54.13.

Using the Surface Plus configurator, I checked to see what the financing for the same Surface Laptop configuration would cost and, sure enough, it was $54.13 per month. This assumes I qualified for the 0 percent APR, of course.

So that’s good.

Granted, $54.13 a month is a pretty hefty bill. But it’s important to remember how much we pay for other expensive products.

By comparison, you could finance an iPhone 7 directly from Apple for $32.41 or more (depending on configuration) per month, or an iPhone 7 Plus for $37.41 or more. But those prices include some kind of APR, as the base iPhone 7 is $649, and $649 divided by 24 is $27.04. (The iPhone 7 Plus is $749 and up, so 0 percent APR over 24 months would yield a payment of $31.21.) (UPDATE: As readers have pointed out, the iPhone comes with Apple Care, which explains the difference in prices. It’s 0 percent APR. –Paul)

And not that a bunch of math is necessary, but Google offers financing on its Pixel phones, and that is also 0 percent financing on the phones only (you can add other items), as Microsoft is offering.

Don’t have $1300 burning a hole in your pocket? If you can swing the $54 monthly payment, don’t upgrade to another device after 18 months, and get 3-4 years of use out of it, Surface Plus looks like a solid alternative, thanks in part to that 0 percent financing.

Still, it’s a shame about the lack of USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, right? 🙂


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