How to Maximize Computer Purchases: Points, Credit Card Protections and More
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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express, Citi® Double Cash Card, Citi Prestige® Card, The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Computer purchases are a large cost to take on. You can spend anywhere from $300-$5,000 depending on your preferences and needs. The average life of a computer is anywhere between 3-5 years, so these big purchases will happen a bit more frequently than we would like.
While a new computer can be a sting in your wallet, these purchases are a great opportunity to earn valuable points or miles and utilize purchase protection, extended warranty and other features offered by top travel rewards credit cards. Here are a few things to consider before your next computer purchase.
Factors to Consider
There are two factors to consider when purchasing a computer and using a card that earns you rewards.
- Where you are planning on purchasing the computer? Consider what retailer(s) you could purchase from, and weigh the pros of purchasing in-store versus online.
- Which card are you planning on using? Will you prioritize the card with the best spending category, focus on hitting a minimum spending requirement to earn a new card’s welcome bonus, or are you looking to reap the benefits of credit card purchase protections?
Take some time to consider each of the above so you’re making a decision that factors in your top priorities.
Deciding Where to Buy Your Computer
There are a large number of places to purchase computers from that take credit cards. The largest retailers of computers in the United States are the following:
- Best Buy
- Office Depot
- Office Max
Consider that many brands also sell direct, including Apple, Dell, Google and Lenovo, so be sure to check their sites as well.
Once you find the perfect computer for you, be sure to search for it across multiple vendors, as you may find a variance in price. You can also use a price-protection service like Citi Price Rewind to match a lower price if one becomes available. Also, each retailer could have a difference in the number of units in stock.
Utilize Shopping Portals
Cash-back and shopping portals can be your best friend when planning a computer purchase. EVReward and CashBackMonitor are great places to start — each of these sites aggregate offers from cash-back and points shopping portals into one convenient screen. However, be sure to check the portals directly as well to verify the correct earning rate.
As an example, here are the current offers for purchasing through BestBuy.com on EVReward. Be sure to consider the value of the points to see if they outweigh value of the cash back. All other factors being equal, eBates would offer the best return, at 2% cash back.
Don’t Forget Amex and Chase Offers
As an example, let’s say I purchase a $1,500 Dell computer with this card. I can stack the $150 savings from the Amex Offer with the eBates portal’s offer of 8% cash back ($120). That is already a combined $270 in savings off the bat. Next, purchasing from Dell.com/amex will likely code as a business expense, earning me 6 Hilton points per dollar. This will net me 9,000 Hilton Honors points, worth $54 based on TPG’s latest valuations. This is just an estimation, as this doesn’t include possible taxes and shipping.
Selecting the right retailer for making your purchase and finding the right shopping portal are important steps in maximizing your purchase. However, picking the right credit card for this purchase can make an even larger difference in the hard cost and potential points earnings.
Choosing the Right Credit Card
The “right” credit card will be the one that offers you what you value most: the highest return on your spending, purchase protection and/or extended warranty to keep your computer covered or the opportunity to meet a minimum spending requirement and lock in a sign-up bonus.
Cards That Offer Bonus Rewards on Computer Purchases
Lastly, be sure to look into the bonus categories for your spend. Many cards offer bonus categories for the vendors I mentioned above. Whether you’re buying your computer from an office store, warehouse store or large retailer like Walmart, there’s potential to earn extra points.
Here are some top picks — note that many of them are business credit cards.
|Ink Business Cash Credit Card||5% back (5x points if you have a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points)||At office supply stores (and on internet, cable and phone services, on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account year)|
|American Express® Business Gold Card||4x Amex points||4X points apply to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year (from the list of airfare purchased directly from airlines; US purchases for advertising in select media, US purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software and cloud solutions; US purchases at gas stations; US purchases at restaurants; and US purchases for shipping) (Then 1 point per dollar)|
|The Blue Business Plus℠ Credit Card from American Express||2x Amex points||On the first $50,000 spent each year (then 1 point per dollar)|
|SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express||5%||At US office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers (on the first $50,000 in purchases each calendar year) (Then 1 point per dollar)|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||1.5% (1.5x if you have a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points)|
Purchase Protection and Extended Warranty
Keep in mind the coverages and extended warranties a credit card can provide — these can come in especially handy for a new computer.
Purchase protection benefits vary widely depending on the card — see our full guide for more info. But we’ll take one example using a card that also offers a solid return on spending at office supply stores: the Ink Business Cash Card from Chase. This card offers purchase protection for up to 120 days against damage or theft, up to $10,000 per claim and up to $50,000 per account.
In our evaluations, Citi cards have the best extended warranty policies. Regardless if you have a no-annual-fee Citi® Double Cash Card or the Citi Prestige Card with a $495 annual fee, you will have the following coverage on your purchase:
- Extension of the manufacturer’s warranty by two years, with total coverage not exceeding seven years from the purchase date
- If an extended warranty is purchased, Citi’s coverage begins at the expiration of that warranty
- Coverage up to $10,000
These benefits can come in handy if your computer starts having issues.
Meet Minimum Spending Requirements for a New Card
A large purchase like a new computer can be help you reach a minimum spending requirement for a credit card sign-up bonus. So if you’ve just opened a new card, consider using it to pay for your new tech. And if you’re looking for a good travel rewards card, check out our recommendations.
A large purchase like a computer can sometimes be a tough pill to swallow, but it can be less painful when taking your time to maximize points, miles, and potential cash back options.
Featured photo by Katleho Seisa / Getty Images.
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