Don't Pay for Unneeded Features
Most low- and mid-cost machines clean dishes just as well as high-end models. It's the added features -- ultra-quiet operation, flexibility and convenience -- that boost the price. Options like fold-down tines and adjustable racks make loading oversize or odd-shaped dishes a lot easier, but if the tines are never folded down or the rack is never adjusted, a basic machine without those extras would be a better value. Ultra-quiet operation can be important, but only if the machine is located where noise levels might disturb household residents.
Consider Style and Function
Some consumers prefer the sleek look provided by having the dishwasher controls hidden on the top edge of the door, but that can make it difficult to see which cycle is running. Also, some models with touch controls are highly sensitive, and if there isn't a lock function it can be possible to start or stop the machine by accident.
After deciding on the right type and model, check prices at both bricks-and-mortar and online retailers, but be sure to check on shipping/delivery costs when comparing prices. Dishwashers and other appliances go on sale on a regular basis, particularly around holidays like Presidents Weekend, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving or Christmas. If this isn't an emergency purchase, wait until the desired model goes on sale. It can also pay to ask if a model or brand will be discounted soon, or if a recent sale price can be extended.
Look at Floor Models
A dishwasher that's been on display or that has a small scratch on the side where it won't be visible after the unit is installed may be discounted 10%-50%. Check both national chains and local appliance stores for these machines.