Microsoft Office is a useful tool for both study and work, but it doesn’t come cheap. If you’re looking for the cheapest way to get Microsoft Office, there are methods you can use to get the productivity suite for a fraction of the price.
Here are some ways to get Microsoft Office cheaply versus buying it full-price at the store.
1. Use Microsoft’s Student Office Plans
If you’re wincing at Microsoft Office’s price because you’re a student, you may be entitled to Office 365 for free. Not all students can claim this offer, as your institute needs to enroll with Microsoft to benefit from this plan. However, it’s worth giving it a shot to see if you can get Office for free.
To check if you’re eligible, head to the official Office 365 Education page and enter your school email address into the box. If you’re eligible, you should receive a code for Office 365, which you can use right away.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t a lifetime gift. Once you graduate from your current school, Microsoft may check up on you to see if you’re still eligible.
If you’re not, you’ll have to buy Office out of pocket. Not to worry, however; you’re still eligible to purchase Microsoft’s alumni deal at $12 for a year.
2. Use Microsoft’s Office Online Website
Did you know that Microsoft Office can be used online for free? It’s not getting an Office license per se, but it’s an excellent way to use Word without paying anything.
If you head over to Office.com, you’ll find the entire Office suite ready for you to use. All you need to do is log in with a Microsoft account, and you can start using Office at no extra cost.
Office Online supports uploading, editing, and downloading Office files from your computer. If you have a Word document you want to read, but you have no word processor, you can upload it to Office Online to read it.
So, what’s the catch? Office Online doesn’t have the full range of features that Office 365 has, and has a lot of useful features missing from it.
Microsoft will continuously remind you of this as you use it, prodding you to purchase a subscription while you use Office Online. However, for a free alternative to Microsoft Office, it fits the bill.
If you want something with a bit more power behind it, be sure to try the best free online word processors . Not only do they have more features than Office Online, but some of them are compatible with Office’s file types.
3. Use the Mobile Office Apps for Android and iOS
Speaking of free Office software, you can also find each component of Office for free on mobile. Again, it’s not strictly getting an Office license, but it’s still advantageous if you want to save money legally.
Both the Android and the iOS app stores have them, and Microsoft is working on a more extensive, all-encompassing Office app for release later down the line.
4. Use Third-Party Retailers and Hunt for Sales
If you want to purchase Microsoft Office legitimately, it’s worth checking for Microsoft Office deals from verified sellers. Some of them may have some great Microsoft Office 365 deals, and others may even list Office for a lower price than Microsoft themselves.
For example, the Microsoft Store currently lists Office 2019 at $149, but how much is Microsoft Office on, say, Amazon?
As it turns out, you can buy an Office CD on the Windows Amazon store for a lesser amount. This is a great way to save money on Office while still going through legitimate channels.
5. Get Microsoft Office Cheap on Gray Market Stores
If none of the above work for you, the gray market is your best bet. Gray market websites can offer a huge Microsoft Office discount that’s hard to resist.
These websites are called a “gray market” because people sell keys without the blessing or authorization of the original developer or publisher. This means there’s no surefire guarantee that you’ll get what you pay for, or that the developer will support the purchase.
So, why bother with gray markets? Simple; their unbeatable price.
While Microsoft sells Office 2019 for $149, and Amazon sells it for $109, Kinguin currently sells keys for as low as $47—a saving of $100 over Microsoft.
The Moral Issues of Gray Market Stores
Before you grab a key from a gray market store, however, consider why these keys are so cheap in the first place. A price cut like this doesn’t come without a few downsides, after all.
First, make sure you know who you’re buying from. Gray market stores will often work like eBay, where individual people and small companies list the products. As such, scams can happen, to the point where some gray market stores ask for an additional cost to protect your purchase.
Also, a seller may put a key up for a low price because it’s an OEM key. These aren’t as desirable as retail keys, as you can only install an OEM on one machine, and one time only. If that machine is lost or breaks down, you’ll need to wrestle with Microsoft tech support to get a reactivation. If they say no, you’ll have to buy Office again.
Finally, gray market stores are a goldmine for thieves. Criminals can steal credit and debit cards, then use the funds to purchase a lot of Office keys. They can then flip the Office keys on gray market websites for a lower price than retail, then direct the profits to their bank account.
What Is an OEM Key?
We briefly touched upon OEM keys above, so it’s worth going into detail on what these are. You should consider OEM keys when buying a license to avoid any future headaches.
OEM stands for “Original Equipment Manufacturer,” and keys labeled as OEM are intended for computer builders. If you’ve ever bought a computer or a laptop that came with Office pre-installed, there’s a good chance that it uses an OEM key.
Computer manufacturers and builders purchase the OEM key and immediately install it onto a device. You can’t use an OEM key to install Office on multiple machines; that’s what the retail version is for.
As such, if a computer with an OEM version of Office is stolen or fails, you can’t re-use the key on a new computer. Some OEM keys will even identify if you change the hardware on your machine and make the OEM invalid.
OEM keys are cheaper than buying retail Office suites, so manufacturers can supply Office with their computers without hiking up the price. This is how manufacturers can sell laptops with Office pre-installed at around the same price as the retail version of Office.
Despite using them outside their intended use, buying an OEM key by itself isn’t illegal. Just as long as the key was bought through legitimate means, there’s no reason to worry about the legality of buying OEM keys.
If you like the idea of buying cheaper OEM keys, be sure to read our guide on what OEM products are for more details.
Improving Your Productivity For Less
Microsoft Office‘s price can be prohibitive, but it doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket. By using the free versions, finding a cheap deal, or using a gray market website, you can get your hands on this powerful productivity suite for less.
If you’d rather use a free alternative to Office, be sure to try the best free Microsoft Office alternatives instead.