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How to stack rewards and earn 10% back on Apple purchases

June 21, 2022
8 min read
Man at Desk in Home Office
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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.

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Use MileagePlus X to get 2 United miles per dollar (for 2.5% back)

(Screenshot from the MileagePlus X app)

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.

(Screenshot from the MileagePlus X app)

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.

(Screenshot from the MileagePlus X app)

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.

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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.

Related: Here’s why it matters which card you use to pay in the United MPX app

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

(Screenshot from trueblueshopping.jetblue.com)

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).

Related: Your guide to maximizing shopping portals for your online purchases

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.

Bottom line

(Photo by Junophoto/Getty Images)

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:

  1. Go to the homepage of your favorite shopping portal, then click on Apple.
  2. After your browser opens a new Apple tab, add your product(s) to your shopping cart.
  3. 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).
  4. On your computer, select "Apple gift card" as the payment option and enter the gift card credentials from your phone on the Apple webpage.
  5. 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.

Related: Best credit cards for everyday spending in 2022

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

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  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
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  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
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  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 80,000 Points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees