Maximizing points, miles and coverage with Apple’s iPhone 12
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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:
- iPhone 12 Mini, starting at $699
- iPhone 12, starting at $799
- iPhone 12 Pro, starting at $999
- iPhone 12 Pro Max, starting at $1,099
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best starter travel credit card
- American Express® Gold Card: Best for worldwide dining
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for travel credits
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best for small business travel
- Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card: Best for no annual fee
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for lounge access
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Best for earning miles at a flat rate
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Best premium hotel card
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Best for airline rewards
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Best mid-tier hotel card
- Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card: Best for Alaska Airlines miles
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®: Best for American Airlines flyers
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.
Featured photo courtesy of Apple.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
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.
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