Maximizing Points For Buying the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c

by on September 20, 2013 · 30 comments

in American Express, Chase, Shopping

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The wait is finally over for us Apple fans, and the new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c went on sale this morning – to huge lines and excitement at Apple stores all over the world. While I didn’t camp out on the sidewalk overnight to pick mine up, I  know a lot of readers are technophiles like me and are considering an upgrade to the newest model – especially because it comes in a whole range of Technicolor-bright hues.

The iPhone 5c comes in a rainbow of colors.

The iPhone 5c and 5s come in a rainbow of colors.

There’s been quite a craze around the new model lately, especially with the release of iOS 7 this week. As a lover of all Apple products, I’ve had the iPhone 5 for quite a while now but it has been on the fritz lately randomly shutting off and draining the battery within just a few hours.

The iPhone 5c is complimented by the iOS7 operating system.

The iPhone 5c and 5s is complimented by the iOS 7 operating system.

Since I had to be on a flight back to NY early this morning I was able to recruit TPG Director of Ops Kate to go to her local Verizon store and pick up a phone for me. Retail stores opened up at 8am and Kate arrived at Verizon around 7:45 to a line of about 20 people – not too bad compared to the people who went to Apple retail stores and were waiting since 3:30am! Although she had to wait for about 45 minutes they were letting customers in at a pretty steady rate.

iPhone 5s

I got an iPhone 5s in silver.

Of course the real wait is when you get in there since it always takes forever to get everything situated on the account and activate the new device.  In all she was there for about an hour and a half but left with a beautiful 64gb silver iPhone 5s (unfortunately they didn’t have the gray which I would have preferred, but I’ll take what I can get!) for a grand total of $466.

Strategize before rushing out to buy an iPhone c from Apple.

Strategize before rushing out to buy an iPhone 5c or 5s from Apple.

That’s why, before you go out and purchase one of these beauties, it’s important to have a strategy to maximize your purchase and earn the most points possible. Just beware that for the first few weeks or months a new product like the iPhone is out, Apple tends to restrict shopping portal bonuses on it, so you might not get the most bonus points by purchasing right away. Still, for those of you that can’t wait (like me!) there are ways to earn a lot of extra points on your purchase.

The iPhone 5c is only currently available from Apple or through their operating carriers.

The iPhone 5c and 5s is only currently available from Apple or through their operating carriers.

The company releases its iPhones for sale through its own online and physical stores, and the stores/sites of its telecommunications partners, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon – but luckily, you can also buy them at Best Buy by purchasing them with a new phone plan from AT&T, Sprint or Verizon so can get a category or merchant spending bonus there as well.

So here are a few different ways to consider maximizing your points on an iPhone 5c purchase.

Update: This offer expired on October 29, 2013. View the current offer for the Business Gold Rewards card.

Recently, Amex announced that its Business Gold Rewards card would earn 2X points on purchases from computer stores, including Apple, so you can earn double points right off the bat if you carry this card. Currently, the card is offering a limited-time bonus of 50,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months and the annual fee of $175 is waived the first year.

However, before you simply go to an Apple store or to purchase, take a look at some online shopping portals to see what other bonuses are being offered so you can double dip on your points by clicking through one of them and then using your Business Gold Rewards card. By taking a quick look at and searching for Apple, it looks like most of the airline and hotel shopping portals are earning just 1 extra mile/point per $1 at Apple, but still that’s at least a few more for double dipping on this purchase.

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 8.37.16 AM


ShopDiscover is actually offering 5% cash back at Apple this quarter, so that’s a pretty good chunk of change back on your purchase as well if you have a Discover card account.

You could also consider using a Chase Ink card for your purchase since the Ink Bold, Ink Plus, Ink Classic and Ink Cash all earn 5X points per $1 spent on telecommunications expenses, so if you use them to purchase the phone along with a new plan at your wireless carrier, you could earn 5X points per $1. However, the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal is also offering a bonus of 1 extra point per $1 for purchases at Apple and Best Buy, so if you click through there first, you can earn a total of 6 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 at Best Buy when purchasing an iPhone 5c with a new phone plan – or you could double dip with another shopping portal, many of which are offering 1 extra point per $1 at Best Buy as well, and then still use your Ink card to earn the 5X bonus.

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 8.37.43 AMAnother strategy could be to  use the Ink Bold or Ink Plus buy Visa or Best Buys gift cards at a store like Office Max to earn the 5x points bonus on that purchase, then click through the Ultimate Rewards portal and use the gift cards to buy Apple products to earn a total of 6X points per $1.

Purchasing the iPhone through your wireless carrier could be a good way to double dip since Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint are also offering one-off point bonuses for purchases and new services through airline and hotel programs’ online shopping portals.

Verizon Wireless is offering 2,800 American Airlines miles for purchases.

Verizon Wireless is offering 2,800 American Airlines miles for purchases.

Verizon Wireless

  • 2,800 American Airlines miles
  • 1,800 Delta SkyMiles
  • 2,300 Southwest Rapid Reward points
  • 1,800 US Airways miles
  • 1,700 United Airlines miles


  • 2000 American Airlines miles
  • 1,790 Amtrak points
  • 5,500 Marriott Rewards points


  • 650 American Airlines miles
  • 1,167 Choice Privileges
  • 400 Delta SkyMiles
  • 550 Southwest Rapid Rewards points
  • 400 US Airways miles
  • 400 United Airlines miles


  • 3,500 American Airlines miles
  • 2,200 Delta SkyMiles
  • 2,999 Hilton HHonors points
  • 2,900 Southwest points
  • 2,200 US Airways miles
  • 2,100 United Airlines miles

Personally I can’t wait to use my new iPhone 5c, and if any of you buy yours today as well, comment on your experience below!

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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  • joeypore

    One thing to beware about with purchasing the phone with gift cards (purchased at other places) is that no extended warranty, theft, loss, or damage protection benefits apply, which I have found to be very valuable.

    A friend of mine dropped and broke his iPhone 5 last year about two weeks after it came out, and AMEX reimbursed him completely for the full repair bill.

  • miketown

    Did you get a 5c or a 5s? The article says both.

  • smk778

    I ask Verizon to charge the cost of the phone/update to my next monthly bill, which I pay for using my Chase Ink Plus and earn 5x points.

  • Nathan

    Why buy a 5C anyway, are you trying to save a hundred bucks?

  • David

    As per the AAdvantage terms:

    Not eligible on gift cards, gift certificates or any other similar cash equivalents. Only eligible on sales that contain a phone PLUS a new 2 year voice plan. You are credited once the order has been shipped. iPad, iPhone, plan renewals, phone upgrades, accessories, Business-to-Business and Prepaid GoPhone orders are not eligible. Other restrictions may apply.

  • DBest

    If you really were a “Technophile” you wouldn’t be buying an iPhone ;-)

  • Charlie

    You won’t get 5x points for a phone purchase at Best Buy – it does not ring up as being telecommunications.

  • Bryallan

    You don’t earn 5x ultimate reward points for telecommunications equipment, only services. Smk788 may have found a way around that, but most people report only getting 1x.

  • kramtruk

    When I clicked through on Discover Card Cash Back for Apple it said the iPhone 5c and 5s was no eligible on the popup screen.

  • Gregory Feczko

    I think Smk788 is saying that he charges it to his bill — and that counts as 5x since its a service, not an actual product. Clever :)

  • Jeff

    Supply was so limited that I didn’t think it was worth it to purchase through Ultimate Rewards. I went to an Apple Store and waited about 2 hours in line. By the time I got to the store, Gold and silver were sold out. Space Gray is a different color than my black 5s. The gold is worth seeing in person before committing 2 years to it. From some angles it is subtle and others vivid gold.
    I used the Amex Platinum because of the loss/stolen protection they offer on purchases.

  • ROB

    will buy anything but iphones. IPHONE 5S is still an outdated product with features only as good as the Samsung galaxy s2 released in 2011. No where close to Galaxy s4 and still not better then GS3. It is also too small for use other than making phone calls

  • Frank

    How did you upgrade from iPhone 5 with the subsidized price?

  • ROb

    I see the same. I don’t see that 2000 AA miles offer.

  • Bryce Wolf

    Heads up…the iPhone does not qualify for the 5500 Marriott Rewards points through their shopping portal.”As of 1/25/2013, purchases of iPhones or refurbished iPhones are not eligible to earn Marriott Rewards Points.”

  • Sal

    Oh really? So the best camera, a 64bit processor, and fingerprint sensor (which Samsung is sure to copy) make it outdated? I guess if you want a sluggish phone full of gimmicks that nobody uses like scrolling a webpage with your eyes , then go for the s4. Size is a personal preference. Not everybody wants a phone the size of your head.

  • Marc

    Does OfficeMax sell Best Buy gift cards now? I’ve never seen them there.

  • pmcarrion

    The 2000 AA miles offer is for purchasing/renewing at AT&T, not Apple.

  • Jerry

    the article is about
    Maximizing Points For Buying the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c
    therefore, your opinion about the iPhone is irrelevant and useless

  • Jerry

    same as replied to below:

    the article is about
    Maximizing Points For Buying the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c
    therefore, your opinion about the iPhone is irrelevant and useless

  • AndyS

    TPG — I’m curious about one thing: If you were able to buy a 64GB iPhone 5S for $466, it means you got the subsidized price when signing up for a new 2-year contract. But if you already had an iPhone 5, which has only been out a year, you’d still have a year left on your contract. Are they doing early upgrades for some customers (alas – not me!)? Or am I missing something?

  • ROB

    YOU LISTED ONLY 2 features on the iphone 5s. I can list 10 features iphone 5s doesn’t have. Also the display is not better.iPhone 5s’ 4-inch screen. At 1136 x 640 pixels, Apple’s device has a much lower resolution than the S4’s 1920 x 1080 pixels.
    The S4 also has a full inch on the iPhone at 5 versus 4 inches.
    That’s a lot more room for watching videos, surfing the Web and playing
    game. The camera is not better, S4 trounces the iPhone 5s when it comes to camera features. From a dual
    camera mode that lets you shoot yourself and your subject at the same
    time to an Eraser mode that gets rid of would-be photobombers, the S4
    can just do a lot more. Other cool features include a Drama Shot mode
    (sequence shots) and Animated Photo mode (GIFs)And then S4 has replaceable battery and 64GB of expandable microSD storage. The S4 also beats the iPhone 5 in terms of special features, such as its
    TV remote control, gesture support and multiple camera modes.

  • Sal

    Like I said, size is a personal preference. Bigger does not mean that it’s better! Many prefer a smaller phone. All the features you list of the camera are lame software gimmicks that are obtainable from a 3rd party app if absolutely needed (which nobody does). When it comes to the camera hardware, the 5s beats the s4. Fact is that the 5s takes better quality pictures, and that’s all that matters. Replaceable battery would never be an issue for 90% of users because the 5s battery life is so good. Removable storage is again near useless because you can only store media on it (no apps). With everything moving to cloud based storage, why bother with a SD card? TV remote control? I won’t even argue this one because now you’re just getting desperate. So again, everything you list as a “feature” is hardly that, and most could be obtained through an app. I’m glad Apple doesn’t bog down their OS with crap features like this that basically nobody uses.

  • wwittman

    and wrong

  • Pingback: Where to Order iPhone 5C for Free (16gb) or $84 (32gb) Verizon (bit more for Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile) and Maximize Miles/Points at the same time | the Reward Boss()

  • FlyingBear

    Discover always has 5% CashBack on Apple, it is not a quarterly thing. They also typically have exceptions on new products, as already mentioned above.

  • Dave P

    So where are we at on this? It seems like equipment through a provider is not 5x via Ink, and AA bonus does not seem to apply to iPhone.

    Am I missing something? Seems like we are kind of back to square one….1x points.

  • pmcarrion

    AA miles do apply for the iPhone if you buy the unlocked version.

  • joey

    Thanks for the heads up re:

    - didn’t know about it and it looks like it will be great to use.

  • Rich

    Unfortunately is specifically says on Discover’s Cashback Apple page that the new iphones are excluded.

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