Apple’s gift card-only Black Friday deals now live in North America, cash discounts in Europe

Apple Black Friday Australian store

Following Apple’s Black Friday deals that went live yesterday on the Australian web store, the company this morning refreshed its United States and Canadian outlets with 2013 Black Friday promotion.

Just as we suspected, this year the iPhone maker has rather disappointedly opted not to offer actual discounts on products and instead is luring shoppers with Apple Store Gift Cards, redeemable against purchases solely at a later date.

Apple has never offered deep Black Friday discounts and this year’s gift card-only promotion will no doubt disappoint bargain hunters who’ll be better served shopping elsewhere (iDownloadBlog has you covered with a comprehensive roundup of Black Friday deals)…

The U.S. online Apple Store is now live with Apple’s Black Friday deals, here are some notables:

If you ask me, the Apple TV with $25 gift card and the AirPort Extreme with $50 gift card represent the best value.

In addition to Apple-made products, gift cards are available with purchase of select third-party accessories, including the $249.95 second-gen Nest Learning Thermostat ($50 gift card), $149.95 Nike+ FuelBand ($25 gift card), $299.95 LaCie 3TB d2 USB 3.0 Thunderbolt Series Hard Drive ($50 gift card), $499.95 Bowers & Wilkins A5 AirPlay ($75 gift card), $199.95 Anki Drive Starter Kit ($25 gift card) and so forth.

A few caveats apply.

For starters, the new iPad mini with Retina display is not included in the gift card promotion, which tells me Apple is either confident in its popularity or, more likely, supply is constrained.

Next, Apple won’t price match discounts from other retailers this year. The gift card deals are not combinable with any other promotions, such as Education discounts.

More importantly, you can’t redeem an Apple Store Gift Card (not to be confused with iTunes Gift Cards, by the way) at the time of purchase. “The Apple Store Gift Card may only be used for future purchases at Apple Retail Stores and the Apple Online Store,” reads the fine print.

This means you can’t buy an iMac and use a $150 gift card to that purchase. Instead, Apple will take your gift card and apply it against, say, an AirPort Extreme or some other purchase in a separate transaction.

The company also cautions that customers who return a product will have their refund value reduced “by the full face value of the Apple Store Gift Card”.

The promotion is available only for purchases made from November 29, 2013, at 12:01am PST to November 29, 2013, at 11:59pm PST at Apple Retail Stores and the Apple Online Store. The deals are available to end users only (excluding distributors, dealers or resellers) and valid while supplies last.

It’s interesting that over in Europe, Apple is offering cash discounts, including the Apple retail and online stores in the United KingdomFrance, Germany and other European outlets.