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How I earned 21,672 points buying a new computer

July 28, 2021
4 min read
Directly above view of a man working on laptop in coffee shop, personal perspective view
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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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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 CashbackMonitor.com)

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 AmericanExpress.com)

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.

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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 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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TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
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

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
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.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
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

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • 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.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more