How I earned 21,672 points buying a new computer

Jul 28, 2021

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When my seven-year-old photo editing laptop started mysteriously turning itself off, I knew it was time for a new one. I can’t say I was excited. The cost of a new computer would be high, especially one that had the power to keep up with my photo editing. Living on a tight college budget only complicated things further.

However, as a professional photographer, it is imperative that I have a laptop that can download and edit my photos. After my Apple college student discount, the computer I wanted was going to cost $3,096. I could have just settled for 3,096 points on a card that earns 1 point per dollar. However, I knew I could get more points — 18,651 more, to be exact.

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In This Post

Cashback Monitor

Cashback Monitor is one of my favorite points and miles hacks, and one that I use daily. It’s a free site that allows you to track the best shopping portals, credit cards and cash-back services to maximize purchases at select stores.

Knowing I had some time before my computer needed to be replaced, I decided to try and line up my $3,096 MacBook Pro purchase with a shopping portal sale. It took a few weeks of checking Cashback Monitor until one morning I saw that United Airlines MileagePlus Shopping was offering 5 miles per dollar spent on Apple purchases.

(Screenshot courtesy of

It wasn’t the best-ever offer for the Apple store, but I needed my new laptop soon, so I took it. And I earned 15,480 United MileagePlus miles.

Related: Earn even more rewards by adding this 1 small step to your online shopping routine

Which credit card I used

I decided to use The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express to earn 2x on my purchase (on up to $50,000 per calendar year). That’s 6,192 Membership Rewards points added to my account. On top of that, my Blue Business Plus card offered $25 back on all purchases over $500 through the beginning of July.

(Screenshot courtesy of

And bonus — with this purchase, I got a free pair of AirPods (normally $199) along with my new MacBook Pro, 15,480 MileagePlus rewards and 6,192 Membership Rewards points. It may not have been the best sale that TPG has seen with Apple, but for a purchase that was becoming increasingly urgent, I am happy with what I got.

Redeeming those miles

Those 21,672 total points and miles are a great return on my purchase. I’ve already used some of them for my next adventure.

I transferred 6,000 Amex points to Delta SkyMiles. It wasn’t the best use of points, but I was able to top off my account for a flight on Hawaiian Airlines from Honolulu to Kona to visit a friend on my next trip. Using 7,500 of my Delta SkyMiles allowed me to save $120 instead of purchasing a last-minute ticket.

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

As for my 15,000 United MileagePlus miles, I plan to use 9,700 of them for a one-way reward to Chicago this fall to catch a Cubs baseball game. Tickets right now are $230, so that’s not a terrible redemption right there at 2.4 cents per point.

Related: Best ways to redeem points and miles on Hawaiian Airlines

Bottom line

Having to make an unexpected large purchase is unfortunately part of being an adult. However, there are ways to maximize even the biggest purchases. Knowing which cards are best for specific purchases and using resources such as Cashback Monitor are ways we can at least soften the blow. I was able to earn 21,672 points, a free pair of AirPods, a $25 statement credit and a pair of free flights. Thanks to buying a computer I needed anyway, I’ll be enjoying some fun daytrips!

Featured photo by Alexander Spatari/Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

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More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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