How to stack rewards and earn 10% back on Apple purchases
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
If you’re like me, you don’t make many purchases with Apple. However, when you do, you tend to spend a lot — I’m talking about $3,499 for a 16-inch MacBook Pro or $1,099 for an iPhone 13. If you own a small business and buy Apple products for multiple people, you know these expenses can quickly add up.
So when the time comes to buy pricey items from Apple, how do you go about earning the most possible for those purchases?
In this guide, I’ll show you how to triple stack rewards to earn 10% back on your Apple purchases. Let’s dive in.
Get the latest points, miles and travel news by signing up for TPG’s free daily newsletter.
Use MileagePlus X to get 2 United miles per dollar (for 2.5% back)
One of the easiest ways to earn additional miles on Apple purchases is through the MileagePlus X app.
The way it works is simple: You download the app, log into your United MileagePlus account and link a credit card. From there, you can buy gift cards from a variety of retailers, one of which is Apple. While a single gift card must be between $2 and $500, if your purchase is more than $500, you can buy multiple gift cards.
The gift card is immediately visible on your screen after you make your purchase. I use the MileagePlus X app at places like Nordstrom, Panera and, of course, Apple.
In fact, when I recently had a repair done on my Apple Watch, the total came to $197.29. While in the Apple store, I quickly rang up that exact amount on my MileagePlus X app and showed the gift card bar code on my screen to the Apple employee. It left me with a zero balance, so I didn’t even need to take out my credit card. Plus, I didn’t have any money left on my Apple gift card, which is just what I wanted.
By using the MileagePlus X app, you earn 2 miles per dollar spent with Apple, even on taxes. That’s in addition to what you already earn through your credit card. TPG values each United mile at 1.21 cents apiece, so you’re effectively getting 2.5% back in United miles by purchasing Apple gift cards through the MileagePlus X app.
If you use a United cobranded credit card like the United Explorer Card on the MileagePlus X, you can accrue even more miles thanks to the card’s 25% bonus. With that bonus, you’d earn a total of 2.5 miles per dollar spent (or a 3% return in United miles, based on our valuations). Better yet, you don’t have to actually pay with said cobranded credit card to earn the 25% bonus — the card just needs to be linked to your account.
Know, though, that there is one downside to using MileagePlus X: All returns process to the gift card you purchase through the app, not the credit card. As a result, you should only use MileagePlus X if you’re sure you’re going to keep the product you purchase.
Pay with the right card to get 3.7% back
Many readers assume that the Apple Card is the best card for Apple purchases. However, for most of our audience, it’s not. When the card was released a couple of years ago, TPG wasn’t all that impressed with its underwhelming 3% earning rate on Apple purchases.
The information for the Apple 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.
When you use the MileagePlus X app, your transaction may not post to your Apple Card statement as an Apple purchase, so you may only earn 1% by using your Apple Card through the MileagePlus X app.
Because of this, we recommend using a card with a generous earning structure for all purchases. For example, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card both earn 2 Capital One miles for every dollar spent. At our valuations, that’s a 3.7% return on all purchases, including those made with Apple through the MileagePlus X app.
Alternatively, you could go with the no-fee Citi® Double Cash Card, which earns 2 Citi ThankYou points per dollar spent (or 2% back). Or, if you’re looking to earn American Express Membership Rewards points, The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express earns 2 points per dollar spent on all purchases (up to $50,000 per year).
Buy via your favorite shopping portal for up to a 4% return
You can find Apple on all the major U.S. airlines’ shopping portals. Here’s what you can expect for the standard earning rate on Apple purchases:
- Alaska Mileage Plan Shopping: 1 mile per dollar spent (a 1.8% return).
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping: 1 mile per dollar spent (a 1.5% return).
- Delta Sky Miles Shopping: 1 mile per dollar spent (a 1.41% return).
- American AAdvantage Shopping: 1 mile per dollar spent (a 1.77% return).
- United MileagePlus Shopping: 1 mile per dollar spent (a 1.21% return).
- Spirit Online Mall: 2 miles per dollar spent (a 2.2% return).
- JetBlue ShopTrue: 3 miles per dollar spent (a 3.9% return).
JetBlue offers the most appealing return rate on Apple purchases, so I would generally encourage you to use the ShopTrue portal for your Apple purchases. However, last month, several airlines offered 4 miles per dollar spent on Apple purchases as a single-day promotion, so it’s worth exploring your options.
Keep your eye out for these promotions in the future, as they tend to happen a few times per year. Should a similar promotion become available again, I’d recommend the AAdvantage Shopping Portal. At 4 miles per dollar, that $3,499 16-inch MacBook Pro would earn you 13,996 American AAdvantage miles (worth $99) and 13,996 Loyalty Points — roughly half of the 30,000 Loyalty Points needed for AAdvantage Gold status.
I suggest bookmarking Cashback Monitor’s Apple page so you can see the real-time earning rates across the various shopping portals.
Lastly, remember that the shopping portals have very strict terms on what products are eligible for rewards, so pay careful attention to the fine print before you buy. Generally, you’ll find that Apple’s newest products are ineligible for shopping portal earning.
With some careful planning and strategizing, you can earn up to 10% back when you buy Apple products.
To maximize your Apple purchases, be sure to follow this checklist:
- Go to the homepage of your favorite shopping portal, then click on Apple.
- After your browser opens a new Apple tab, add your product(s) to your shopping cart.
- With the final amount displayed (including shipping, taxes and Apple Care — if you opt for it), open the MileagePlus X app on your phone and purchase gift card(s).
- On your computer, select “Apple gift card” as the payment option and enter the gift card credentials from your phone on the Apple webpage.
- Complete your purchase, and enjoy your triple stack on points and miles.
While I’ve proposed a structure that earns in three separate loyalty accounts, you should know that there’s value in a diversified loyalty account strategy. By having points and miles in three separate accounts, you’ll have more flexibility when you’re ready to book your next trip, as you can use the program that has the best flight options. Who knows, maybe you’ll be booking that next trip from a new Apple device.
Featured photo by Grace Cary/Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy Bonus Points after spending $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 8/31/22.
- 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program.
- 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
- 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
- Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
- Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
- Terms apply.
- See Rates & Fees