How I used Ultimate Rewards to pay $4 for an iPad and earn 1,975 Amex points

Nov 8, 2020

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I’m hitting the road on a regular basis thanks to our new RV and need many of the comforts of my home office to stay productive. After learning our current iPad 2 (yes, an original 2 still in working order) isn’t compatible with the Sidecar system to use it as a second monitor, I decided after seven years it was time to upgrade.

The 8th generation of iPads with Wi-Fi only and 128GB of storage are retailing at roughly $400 amongst all the different retailers. Not wanting to sink another $400 into the RV (although it will be used elsewhere) I took a look at using points for an iPad.

Shopping with points is typically a losing proposition. Whether you redeem points directly for merchandise, use points to shop at Amazon or use other similar purchase erasers, you’ll often get a fraction of the value compared to redeeming for free travel. With all of the COVID-19 promotions card issuers are running, I thought things may be different. Two promotions came to mind immediately:

  1. Through November 15, Chase Ultimate Rewards can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each toward Apple products purchased through the Ultimate Rewards website.
    2. Chase’s Pay Yourself Back featured was extended to Sept. 30, 2021, and you can redeem Ultimate Rewards at 1.5 cents each to cover any grocery, dining or home improvement store purchases.

A quick glance at the Apple mall on Chase’s website showed me two things: the iPad 8th gen I wanted was $34 more expensive than on Amazon and the shipping time stated was 4-5 weeks.

Amazon had the exact same model in stock with Amazon Prime one day delivery for $395. As stated, you don’t want to redeem Chase points directly through Amazon to pay because of the poor value, so my buddy Howie made a rather obvious recommendation of using Chase’s Pay Yourself Back with points to erase roughly $395 of purchases on my Chase Sapphire Reserve card and then pay for the iPad on Amazon.

I found $390.99 in dining and grocery purchases on my CSR and redeemed 26,066 Ultimate Rewards to cover the expenses.

I found two added benefits of using a credit card to pay for the free iPad. First, you can use a card that gives extended warranty protection. I’ve had great luck in the past with American Express when I’ve filed extended warranty claims and typically use The Platinum Card® from American Express for purchases such as this.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve does have extended warranty protection, but I stick with Amex for personal preference and also because of the second added benefit: I had an Amex Offer for 5X points on my Platinum card for Amazon purchases. From the $395 purchase, I have an extra year of coverage for the iPad and I earned 1,975 Membership Rewards.

Bottom line

My iPad showed up from Amazon the day after I ordered it for the net cost of 26,066 Ultimate Rewards and $4.01. Whereas previously I would never have dreamed of redeeming points for an iPad, 2020 continues to surprise me. Make sure you take into account all the different promotions occurring and that anything you typically would do, often isn’t applicable as the pandemic continues.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock

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