Maximizing Points With iPhone 5 Purchases

by on September 27, 2012 · 35 comments

in American Express, Chase, Credit Cards, Shopping

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I love my gadgets and while I’m not exactly ready to camp out overnight to get the new iPhone 5, I am getting ready to purchase the shiny new product thanks to enhanced features like a slimmer, lighter build, a larger screen, the sharp retina display and better camera, and the super-fast new iOS 6 operating system. I haven’t gotten it yet because I am waiting to be upgrade eligible (sounds familiar) in October.

Having to wait a little while is good for a few reasons, though, while I decide which credit card to put it on. For instance, one of the Chase Freedom fourth quarter bonus spending merchants, at which I can earn 5 points per dollar I spend up to $1,500 – is BestBuy. The bonus earning period starts on October 1, so I’m waiting at least until then, and then I’ll have all the way through the end of the year to make my purchase at the 5 points per dollar rate.

Best Buy is selling iPhones for AT&T, Sprint and Verizon in both white and black and with 16GB-64GB in memory. Prices range from $199 for a 16GB iPhone with a 2-year contract with one of the phone companies up to $899 for an unactivated 64GB phone. That would mean if you charged an iPhone to your Freedom card, (not including taxes, which vary from state to state) you’d earn between 995-4,495 Ultimate Rewards points per phone, depending on which model you got and whether you opened a new service contract. Unfortunately, though Best Buy is offering an extra point per dollar through the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal, which would bring your earning potential to 6 points per dollar, the iPhone 5 is currently only available for in-store purchase, so you’re out of luck on online shopping portal bonuses for the moment.

Or you could wait until the Apple shopping portals no longer prohibit the new iPhone from shopping bonuses, though no one knows how long that’ll be since there is such a high demand for it. But if you were planning to order the iPhone 5 directly from Apple anyway, you might as well try going through an online shopping portal because you never know – the store may not catch it and you could still end up getting the bonus. Doesn’t hurt to try.

If you’re determined to get a bonus on your points, however, you could also consider using the Ink Bold to buy Visa gift cards at a store like Office Max and score the 5x points bonus on that purchase, then use the gift cards to buy the iPhone. Another option with the Ink Bold would be to use it to purchase the iPhone from your wireless carrier since the card also gives 5x points on wireless/phone category spending, so you might be able to get the 5x points that way. While the card’s terms say that the 5x bonus is on service, I’ve often noticed that I earn 5x points on my entire wireless bill when I use the Ink Bold to pay for it, so you might as well try!

Amex cardholders can sync their card via the Link, Like, Love app on Facebook to save $20 at Best Buy.

If you don’t have a Chase credit card, you can still take advantage of Amex’s “Link, Like, Love” campaign via Facebook to save $20 on a purchase of $200 or more at Best Buy. Simply go to the “Link, Like, Love” Facebook page and sync your card, then “Load More Offers” until you see the Best Buy one and click “Get Offer” and “Add to My Card” and you’re good to go. When you spend $200 or more at a Best Buy store or online using your synced Amex by October 31, you’ll get a one-time statement credit of $20.

Does anyone have the new iPhone yet and if so, what are your thoughts?

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Bender

    I was just thinking about this yesterday and also noticed the Best Buy 5x bonus for next quarter. I was going to wait until Oct. 1 to see if the UR mall increased Best Buy but guess that won’t help since you can only purchase the phone in-store for now. Decisions decisions

  • Grant

    I bought my iPhone 5 on Friday and am still kicking myself for not remembering to use my ink bold at the AT&T store. I missed out on 5 x $254 = ~1000+ points, but in the scene of things, I didn’t miss out on a ton of points.

  • Dave

    I already placed my order for two 16GB iPhone 5′s with Verizon and I put it on the Ink Bold with hopes that it would apply the 5X bonus category…no luck. The terms and conditions do clearly state that the bonus is only for phone service, not for equipment purchases. I’m sure it’s a YMMV issue, but just stating how it worked out for me.

  • Marc

    I think the $20 off $200 deal from Best Buy has reached its capacity and no longer works.

  • Chad M

    This is correct; I tried to activate that deal for iPhone preorder and it was already gone then. There was a capacity limit and it had been hit by 9/13 per AMEX tweet:

    sorry, max # of Cardmembers have enrolled in #AmexBestBuy20 offer. Visit for more offers

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  • Jamison

    The new iPhone feels like a plastic toy, if you have the 4S i suggest sticking with it.. the back camera is the same as the 4S, the front camera is the only one that received an upgrade. The new iOS 6 apple maps don’t provide Transit directions at all which is a huge downgrade. I’ve tried the 5 and its not that much faster browsing wise/instagramming, etc. The only noticeable difference is if you are a heavy gamer, better FPS on games. The headphone jack is on the bottom of the phone now which can be intrusive if you’re listening to music and cupping the phone with your hand on the bottom of the phone. I’ve decided to hold out on the upgrade and just wait for the next Apple iPhone refresh that is likely to be next summer. Though, if you do need the latest and greatest, by all means the iPhone 5 is out there-

  • Grant Thomas

    That’s a bummer Dave, maybe you will get lucky

  • Jack

    Can I buy Best Buy gift card through UR mall with my Freedom card and then use the gift card to buy iPhone 5 in store?

  • SeaBee3

    To take advantage of the Best Buy deal, here is what you do. Buy anything online through the portal that is around the same price as the iPhone model you want. When you get it, return it to the store but ask them to put it on a gift card instead. Nothing gets reported back to the portal since they are not doing a return per se. Now, buy the iPhone with your new gift card. I have done this before and it works fine.

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  • Sandeep Sahai

    Guys, while this is great, lets remember to monetize the benefits of using say an AMEX Platinum when making the decision. The phone will be covered under Amex extended warranty (Amex extends original manufacturing warranty by a year) as well as the 90 day return policy.
    Now make an informed decision.

  • Bob

    Is Apple another one of your sponsors now like Chase? Seems like your language for why you want to buy one is strait out of an Apple ad. Full disclosure?

  • Weedywet

    Not about points, but: iOS 6 is already out and available for your 4s as well… you don’t need a 5 to have the newest iOS upgrade (free)

  • Dwg1

    What about using INK Plus from chase? any bonus with this card?

  • John

    @ Dave, Same here. I purchased about $1300 worth of iphone 5s via verizon. They denied the 5x on it because they said it CLEARLY states in their fine print, that equipment purchases are not eligible for the 5x. Bummer…missed out on 5k+ points -.-

  • John

    @Grant, no need to kick yourself. They won’t give you the 5x for equipment purchases..

  • Adam Kornfield

    I pre-ordered two weeks ago. Was trying portals, but at 3am UR and United didn’t work. Quick decision and take the plunge. Fortunately got the phone although missed a few points. Well worth it

  • Marlene

    Was going to do the Like, Link, Love and found out that Best Buy says it’s 8 – 10 weeks to get the phones in. My advice is order now and hope you get the phone in time to pay during the promotion. Also, Shopdiscover gave me 5% back on my purchase, so they don’t all prohibit it. :)

  • Briface

    The Southwest Airlines shopping portal says iphone 5 is permitted since 9/22, even valid for store pickups. This is rather disappointing to those of us that pre-ordered and received 9/21. But you could always return it, but that’s a lot of hassle for a few hundred points.

  • Ctrix65513

    No to mention loss protection no questions asked- even though it is for the subsidized purchase price of the phone only still a great benefit and outweighs the UR points.

  • Sam

    Upgrading from iPhone 4, the 5 is amazing. Lte speed is as fast if not faster than what I get from Comcast at home. Everything is noticeably faster. The map app is fine 90% of time and is only getting better. If u miss google maps, you can just go to on safari and you can even create a short cut button for your home page. That will give you all the features of google maps including transit. I actually like it more than the old map app because its much easier to see the traffic markers on the browser map. And because lte is so fast, the browser map is quite responsive. Faster than the old map app.

    The phone is much lighter but absolutely feels more durable. If u miss the weight, get a stupid case that makes it look like a tank. But the lightness is great if you have to hold the phone to watch a show or take long video. The camera is not the same as 4s. It’s got way better low light features. Also the camera is much more responsive because of the faster chip. I’ve had the phone since day one and am totally happy. The only downside has been that it didn’t improve my cellphone connection at home. I live I. The middle of a hill with poor signal.

  • Bree0084

    I’d like to hear what TPG has the say about this. Very interesting and relevant point made here

  • Oleg

    Bob, do u have to be the smart **** around here? It is not i feel i have to defend Brian , i think he can do this himself, but i am really getting tired of all the free loaders who read these blogs for free and definitely learn a lot here and there—what is wrong with these bloggers earning an income for the work they do? If you were a paid subscriber to any of the paid blogs you can cancel if you are not happy, but when you are reading free to the public blogs, you do not like it, then take a hike, no one is forcing you to read their blog!!

  • Bob

    just asking for some full disclosure. there’s nothing wrong with him and other bloggers making a living…in fact it’s awesome! i love seeing people make money of things they love. all i’m asking for is full disclosure

  • John

    If you have Verizon, get network extender. It will boost you signal. One bar at my home went to four bars.

  • Peter S

    BTW, the bestbuy Amex Sync deal has not reached the limit yet. If you click on your Amex sync directly from your wall, the bestbuy deal does not come up. However, if you first go to the Amex FB page, then lick on “Amex Sync” link from there, the bestbuy deal will pop back up and you can definitely load it to your cards. I just did it on 11:30pm 09/27. So it still works.

  • LR

    I have to completely agree with Bob. I mean why not just say “Maximizing points with mobile phones” or something to the like. Maybe it’s just me, although there is no doubt that this blog has grown in viewership, and Brian continues to increase his income, it is on the path to becoming full of ads and biased. (See: Frugal Travel Guy).

    I will continue to read the blog, since it takes up 2 minutes of my day, but it’s tough to keep supporting it. Hope this changes bc TPG used to be my favorite blogger.

  • thepointsguy

    Full disclosure: no, I don’t have any business relationship with Apple, though I’d love a free iPhone :-)

  • Jamison

    i would agree from the iPhone 4 to the 5 would be a HUGE upgrade, but I’m saying if you have a 4S , it wouldn’t be that big of a difference… trust me, I upgraded from a 4 to a 4S a while back and the 4 is SOO sluggish ;)

  • Tom

    @ SAM,

    you live in 20th century? IPHONE 5 is an old technology compared to all other recent premium phones . Iphone 5 is a total junk compared to HTC ONE or the Galaxy s3.
    The only good thing about IPHONE is the exterior build quality and that’s it. I’d not pay even $200 for this old piece of junk!

  • Mike

    I agree Bob. seriously these idiots don’t know what a good smartphone is! IPHONE 5 is now 4 inch screen, now 4G? WHAT’S OLD NEWS FOR US IS NEW NEWS FOR THIS IPHONE IDIOTS.

  • Sam

    If you like HTC One or Galaxy s3, that’s great. I’m sure they are great phones with great features. If it works for you stick with it. I don’t have the need to bad mouth anything else to make my decisions more valid. But calling iPhone 5 old technology is calling a 2013 BMW old technology because it only has 4 wheels.

  • Bill

    The back camera IS updated from the 4S — it is not at all the same. Same number of pixels, yes, but different sensor, different optics, different light sensitivity, different image processing, different speed.

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