It’s mid-September. For some, that might mean putting away memories of Summer and gearing up for Fall weather. For others, it might mean it’s time for you or the kids to head back to school. For many, though, mid-September means it’s time for an upgrade to the newest iPhone.
Of course, Apple announced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the largest and fastest iPhones to date, this past Tuesday. Preorders begin at midnight Pacific Time on September 12th, which means many people will be staying up late tonight to make sure they can receive their prized new gadget right away when it launches next Friday in the United States.
However, most people don’t know that it’s possible to earn free travel while preordering your new iPhone or purchasing just about anything else from Apple, too! Here’s how:
The Power Of Shopping Portals
Too often, people forget to take advantage of online shopping portals when making purchases online. While Amazon doesn’t participate in any online shopping portal, thousands of other retailers do, and the list of participants might surprise you. Big names like Walmart, Staples, Nike, Kohls, Target and yes, even Apple, can be found participating in many online shopping portals.
Sometimes the terms and conditions for these shopping portals can restrict earnings on certain brand-name items. AT&T, for example, offers several thousand miles or a cash bounty through various online shopping portals when signing up for a new two-year contract but specifically excludes iPhones from eligibility. However, Apple allows up to two iPhones per 30 days per account to earn bonus miles or cashback! The fine print for Barclays’ shopping mall gives a good example of the terms found at most portals for Apple:
Not all online shopping portals offer the same cashback. That’s why it’s best to use a tool like Cashback Monitor or Evreward to check the current earnings for a wide variety of portals, offering cashback, airline miles, hotel points or points in bank-operated programs like Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards. Cashback Monitor tends to have the most up-to-date information, so we’d recommend turning to them when shopping online to see if you can save extra through a shopping portal.
In Apple’s case, Top Cashback offers an extra 2% cash rebate on all Apple purchases, making it one of the best values out there. At $199 – the price of the cheapest iPhone 6 on contract – you’d save an extra $4. That might not seem like a lot, but consider the unlocked 128GB iPhone 6 Plus. That one goes for a whopping $949. At that rate, 2% would save you about $19! The savings grow exponentially on more expensive purchases, like MacBooks and iMacs.
Plus, if you use this link to create a free Top Cashback account, you’ll earn an extra $10 back on your first portal purchase, whether it’s with Apple or any of hundreds of other merchants!
Other Shopping Portals
Various airline reward programs like the AAdvantage eShopping Mall offer 1 mile per dollar on Apple.com transactions. Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Mall offers 1 point per dollar for Apple.com purchases, as well. Barclays RewardsBoost portal offers 2 points per $1. It may appear that only Barclays matches the value of Top Cashback, but in reality, all three of these can offer even more value, depending on how you intend to use the points earned.
Barclays RewardsBoost, for example, offers Arrival miles in exchange for purchases. These miles can be redeemed for 1¢ per point toward travel expenses by Barclaycard Arrival and Arrival+ cardholders. However, Arrival cardholders also receive a 10% redemption bonus, where 10% of miles used toward redemptions are automatically redeposited into your account for use toward future redemptions.
Plus, you can pay for your preorder using a Barclaycard Arrival+ and earn an extra 2 points per $1, just as you would on any other purchase. That adds up to more than $44 in savings on a high-end iPhone. Not too shabby!
The same argument can be made for the other shopping portals: Ultimate Rewards points can easily be redeemed for over 2¢ per point, meaning you might well save more paying for your iPhone with an Ultimate Rewards-earning card and going through the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal.
American AAdvantage miles can also be easily redeemed for 2¢ or more each, making them a strong contender. United and Delta offer fine value, too, if either is your program of choice.
Programs to avoid include Hilton and Marriott’s shopping portal, since these points are not only limited in use to one hotel program but also less valuable than an airline mile or Ultimate Rewards point.
You do not have to pay with any particular credit card in order to take advantage of online shopping portals. You may only access Ultimate Rewards Mall and Barclays RewardsBoost if you have a participating card, but you’ll earn points even if you pay with a different card. In the case of airline and cashback portals, you may use any card and sign up for the portal free of charge.
The Ink Loophole
If you happen to have an Ink Bold or Ink Plus business card from Chase, you might actually want to preorder your new iPhone from your cellular carrier directly. That’s because your preorder will then be coded as a telecom expense and be eligible to earn 5 points per $1!
Even though none of the shopping malls offer a good double-dip opportunity, paying with your Ink card will lead to the highest yield of all. That could mean up to almost 5,000 points on a high-end iPhone. Transfer those Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways’ Avios program and you can book a free flight!
Bonus Points For In-Store Pickup
One last piece of advice: it’s possible to earn miles or points on online shopping even if you take advantage of in-store pickup! Recently, I had to buy a new power cord for my MacBook Pro. I could’ve walked to the Apple Store, less than 200 yards from where I live, and simply purchased a new one there.
Instead, I bought it online, going through a shopping portal, then picked it up a few hours later in-store. I earned a couple hundred miles with next to no effort. Every little bit adds up toward your next free trip! This same trick can be employed with Best Buy, Target, Staples, JC Penney and plenty of others.
No matter if you’re staying up late tonight or not even looking for a new phone for months to come, the lessons offered from the new iPhone’s launch are worth remembering. Online shopping portals can lead to big savings or free travel with literally one click’s worth of effort. They’re a key tool in every points and miles traveler’s arsenal.