Maximizing points, miles and coverage with Apple’s iPhone 12

Oct 13, 2020

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On Tuesday, Oct. 13, Apple introduced a slew of new products, including four iPhones. First, for a recap, be sure to check out some of the most significant feature improvements here. I’m especially excited about the iPhone 12 Pro’s camera improvements, including a larger image sensor and a new sensor-shift stabilization system, both of which are sure to give our flight review photographs a big upgrade.

Travelers might also be drawn to the base model, the iPhone 12 Mini, which has a relatively reasonable starting price of $699, though you’ll currently only get that price if activating on AT&T or Verizon. These are the four new iPhones you might be considering for an upgrade:

Preorders and in-store purchases

The first three iPhones will be available on Oct. 23, but you can preorder your device directly through Apple as of 8 a.m. ET this Friday, Oct. 16. The iPhone 12 Pro Max won’t ship until Nov. 13, with preorders kicking off on Nov. 6.

Screenshot courtesy of Apple.

Beginning on Oct. 23, you’ll be able to make your purchase at an Apple Store, through your carrier of choice (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint) or through third-party resellers such as Best Buy.

Trade-in options

The new iPhones certainly aren’t cheap, but they can be far more affordable if you’re willing to trade in your current phone. Credits range from $30 for the iPhone SE (2016) to as much as $500 if you hand over last year’s iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Screenshot courtesy of Apple.

You’ll need to make your purchase directly through Apple to take advantage of that particular offer, though third-party sellers may have similar promotions available.

Shopping portal bonuses

Typically, iPhones aren’t eligible for shopping portal bonuses shortly after launch, though that’s something to consider if you decide to make your purchase at a later date. It can also make sense to use a shopping portal aggregator like CashBack Monitor to easily identify the largest return.

Screenshot courtesy of British Airways.

For example, British Airways, which is currently offering 3 Avios per $1 spent on Apple purchases, specifically lists the following exclusion: “Unless you are notified otherwise, no rewards are given on new products when launched.”

Which cards to use

A number of Apple enthusiasts will almost certainly end up making their purchase with the Apple Card — it’s not the worst option, since you’ll be able to take advantage of introductory APR financing and earn 3% back if you purchase directly through Apple. But it’s not your best pick, either.

Personally, I’ll be making my purchase with The Platinum Card® from American Express. It doesn’t offer the greatest return — a flat 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar spent, worth 2 cents apiece based on TPG’s most recent valuations — but I’ve always had good luck with Amex’s purchase protection benefit. So, if I end up breaking or losing my iPhone, I know I’ll have some coverage.

Ultimately, given the high cost of Apple’s latest smartphones, I’d focus on cards that offer purchase protection and extended-warranty benefits, rather than those that offer the greatest return — with one exception, which I’ll dig into below. Other top purchase-protection picks include:

Card Maximum coverage amount
Maximum coverage amount Coverage duration (days) Earning rate(s) Annual fee
American Express® Gold Card $10,000 per item (or $500 per event for natural disasters) $50,000 per card per calendar year 90 4x at restaurants worldwide; 4x at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x); 3x on directly purchased airline tickets or airfare purchases through amextravel.com; 1x on all other purchases. Terms apply. $250 (see rates & fees)
Ink Business Cash Credit Card $10,000 per claim $50,000 per account 120 5% at office supply stores/telecom (up to $25,000 per account anniversary year, then 1%); 2% at gas stations/restaurants (up to $25,000 per account anniversary year, then 1%); 1% on all other purchases. $0
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express $1,000 per item (or $500 per event for natural disasters) $50,000 per card per year 90 3% at U.S. supermarkets on the first $6,000 per calendar year (then 1%); 2% at U.S. gas stations/select U.S. department stores; 1% on all other purchases. Terms apply. $0 (see rates & fees)
Chase Freedom Flex $500 per claim $50,000 per account 120 5% on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate; 1% on all other purchases. $0

The information for the Chase Freedom Flex has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Meeting minimum spend

Of course, ideally, you’ll be able to pair a large Apple purchase with a significant welcome bonus, giving you an opportunity to get even closer to a minimum spend requirement. One of our top picks at the moment is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which is offering 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.

I’ll run through some other top contenders below, and you can find a full list of top offers here. Just note that not all of these cards include purchase protection and extended-warranty perks, so if you’re looking to prioritize coverage over points, refer to the chart above.

Protect your investment

Many consumers assume that protection benefits simply cover your initial purchase, but a number of cards now offer coverage long after you buy a smartphone as well. In order to be eligible for ongoing coverage, you’ll want to pay your cellphone bill with a card that offers loss and damage protection, including:

Card Coverage/Deductible  Notable Exclusions Earn rate on cellphone bill Annual Fee
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card Up to $600 per claim; $1,800 max per 12-month period with a $100 deductible. Cosmetic damage that doesn’t affect the phone’s ability to function; lost phones. 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points* $95
Citi Prestige® Card Up to $1,000 per claim; $1,500 max per 12-month period with a $50 deductible. Cosmetic damage that doesn’t affect the phone’s ability to function; lost phones. 1 Citi point per dollar $495
IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card Up to $800 per claim; $1,000 max per 12-month period with a $50 deductible. Lost phones 1 IHG point per dollar $89 (waived for the first year)
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card** Up to $600 per claim; $1,200 max per 12-month period with a $25 deductible. Lost phones 1 point per dollar $0

*On the first $150,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year in the categories of travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines

The information for the  Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select, Citi Prestige and Wells Fargo Propel Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

It could also be worth temporarily paying part of your cell service bill with The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, to take advantage of the up to $20 monthly statement credits available with both cards through the end of 2020.

For more on this latest round of Apple products, see 8 reasons to upgrade to Apple’s iPhone 12, Mini, Pro and Pro Max.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday card, click here.

Featured photo courtesy of Apple.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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