Best Home Appliance Buying Guide

When it comes to buying a major appliance like a refrigerator, washing machine, or anything else that’s too big to fit in your car, picking the right retailer is nearly as important as picking the right brand or model.

The short version: Your best bet is an independent local or regional store with its own delivery and service team—you’re more likely to get the best service, delivery, and installation experience. But if you don’t have a store like that in your area and you need to buy from a national chain, Costco has fair prices and the most flexible and customer-friendly policies for delivery, installation, and customer service. But you’ll need to be a member ($60 per year), and Costco doesn’t carry Bosch, KitchenAid, Electrolux, or Frigidaire. Lowe’s and Appliances Connection also have favorable policies, with a wider product selection and no membership requirements. Best Buy and Home Depot are pretty good, too.

Chains with the best policies: Costco and Lowe’s

If you’re a member, Costco offers the cheapest delivery and installation of the big national chains, you’ll get an additional year of warranty coverage for many products, and it will help you make warranty claims with the manufacturer. The downside is that it has a limited selection compared with most other stores: For example, it doesn’t sell some of our favorite brands, including Bosch or KitchenAid dishwashers, Electrolux washing machines, or Frigidaire ranges. (The chain does carry most of the LG, GE, and Whirlpool/Maytag appliances we recommend, though.)

Among stores that don’t require a membership, Lowe’s has some of the most affordable and flexible delivery, installation, and haul-away options, and is one of the few that offers to help you make claims on your warranty if you need to. In some areas, Lowe’s employees will make the delivery—otherwise your order will be delivered and installed by a third party, as with most chains. Lowe’s doesn’t sell Electrolux laundry products, however.

Other good national sellers: Appliances Connection, Home Depot, and Best Buy

Appliances Connection also has some of the best prices, most flexible policies, and customer-service help. It also carries all of the appliances that we recommend. It has only one brick-and-mortar location, though, so you’ll need to be comfortable making the purchase online (more on that in a bit).

Home Depot (no Bosch dishwashers) and Best Buy (no Electrolux laundry) also have comparably affordable and flexible delivery, installation, and haul away, though they won’t help with warranty claims.

Limited delivery and service options or other issues: Designer Appliances, Abt, AJ Madison, and Sears

Designer Appliances charges for delivery outside of New York and New Jersey, and charges even more to bring the appliance inside your house and to install it.

Abt charges for delivery outside of Chicagoland, extra to put it where you want it, and charges extra for installation in Chicagoland—outside of that area, you'll have to book that on your own (though the company will point you to Home Advisor).

AJ Madison will bring the appliance to your front door but that is it. Installation is available in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania but nowhere else.

Sears is unique among national stores in that it has its own service team and has okay prices and policies, but the company is in serious financial trouble, so we’re a little worried about its ability to honor warranty claims (particularly on its house-brand Kenmore appliances) over the long term.