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How the Apple Watch Can Earn You Extra Points and Miles

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Today, TPG Contributor Richard Kerr looks at how you can maximize purchases of the new Apple Watch.

Beginning this Friday, you can make an appointment at your local Apple store to try on an Apple Watch and pre-order your very own. This new Apple Watch will come in 3 different styles (Sport, Watch, and Edition), with prices starting at $349, $549, and $10,000, respectively. Naturally, TPG readers have been asking about how to get the Apple Watch using points and miles, as well as how to make the transaction as lucrative as possible for those who are buying outright. Here are my tips:

Use Points for a Free Watch

Current options to get a free watch are not appealing from a redemption value standpoint. If you’re sitting on a hoard of points and don’t know what to do with them, I take donations. But seriously, if you don’t mind burning points inefficiently, then consider these options:

  • American Express Membership Rewards Shopping – AMEX offers most Apple products in the Membership Rewards shopping mall, and I imagine the Apple Watch will appear before too long. The problem is that you get a flat value of 0.5 cents/point when redeeming this way. Nevertheless, if you have more MR points than you can shake a stick at, you can eventually get a free Apple Watch.
  • Citi ThankYou Rewards – If you’re currently a Citi ThankYou Preferred cardholder but do not have the Citi ThankYou Premier card or Citi Prestige card, redeeming your points at 1 cent apiece is the best you can hope to do. You could redeem points for Apple Gift cards in this manner and pay for your Apple Watch with as few as 35,000 ThankYou points.
  • Marriott/Hilton Points – Both online shopping malls offer most Apple products, and like Amex should eventually carry the Apple Watch. Again, unless you have 10,000,000 points and no more vacation days for 3 years, this isn’t a good option.
Apple Watch Edition designs will contain 18k gold and start at $10,000.
Apple Watch Edition designs will contain 18k gold and start at $10,000.

Leverage These Strategies for Your Purchase

With no great options to get a watch for free, let’s look at how to make the purchase of a new Apple Watch work in your favor.

1. Ink Your Watch – If your local office supply store sells Apple gift cards, use your Ink Plus Business Card to get 5x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent. High rollers shooting for the Edition watch (starting at $10,000) could earn 50,000 points, though that would be a lot of Apple gift cards to buy, and you’d need to make sure Apple’s payment system could accept that many forms of payment on one transaction. You could also use the SimplyCash Business Card from American Express, though that earns 5% cash back instead of 5x points, and I value Ultimate Rewards points at much more than 1 cent apiece (so your total return with Ink Plus is more like 10%).

Alternatively, there have been reports of being able to earn 5x points on all gift cards bought through eBay when using a Chase Ink card, which opens the possibility of buying Apple gift cards on eBay with your Ink Plus, after going through an online cash back portal for eBay. This double dip would result in 5X points for your Apple Watch purchase, as well as cash back (like 1.5% from on all Apple gift cards you buy from eBay.

2. Shopping Portals – Before making a large online purchase, I always check EVReward listings and to see which stores offer the best points bonus or cash back. Currently, Chase Ultimate Rewards is offering 2x points at the Apple Store and Delta is offering 3x SkyMiles/dollar. The Shop Discover portal is also offering a nice 5% cash back for purchases at the Apple Store online. *A reader just pointed out the fine print of Chase and Discover shopping portals seem to exclusively exclude the Apple Watch – make sure you read all fine print when heading through the portals.

3. Meet a Minimum Spending Requirement – A big purchase is always a great way to make progress on completing the minimum spending required to qualify for great sign-up bonuses.

4. Trigger Annual Spending Bonuses – Like sign-up bonuses, many cards offer additional perks or bonus points if you meet a certain annual threshold. You could earn elite qualifying miles, bonus airline miles, companion air tickets, or hotel status by spending the required annual amount on a card.

Apple has been silent on whether it will allow other retailers to carry the Apple Watch at launch. If stores like Best Buy, Staples, or wireless carriers do begin to sell the watch, you can apply the above principles (like buying discounted gift cards or going through shopping portals) to score a higher point/$ rate or more cash back.

What’s your strategy for buying an Apple Watch?