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About a month ago, Chase launched a promotion offering a 25% or 50% bonus when redeeming Ultimate Rewards points for Apple products. It doesn’t look like we covered it at the time, probably because it looks like it was launched during Prime Day busyness.
There are only a few days left to take advantage of this offer, so this post is a heads up that this opportunity exists and is about to end. Having said that, depending on which Chase cards you have, you might be able to get better value for your points buying the same products in other ways.
- Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for Appel products in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal & get a 25% or 50% bonus.
- Direct link to offer.
- Expires November 15, 2020.
Redeeming points and miles for merchandise has nearly always offered poor value, but Chase turned that on its head recently with the introduction of Pay Yourself Back. This feature allows you to offset charges in certain categories using points at a 1.25 or 1.5 cpp rate depending on your card.
They then followed that up with this Apple promotion which works in a somewhat similar way. You can redeem Ultimate Rewards points for Apple products in the Chase portal and get a 25% bonus on all their cards with the exception of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card which offers a 50% bonus on Apple products.
To give an idea of how the math works, you can ordinarily redeem 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points as a $100 statement credit on a 1cpp basis. With this Apple promo, you can redeem those same 10,000 points for $150 of Apple products if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card or $125 worth of Apple products with other Ultimate Rewards-earning cards such as the Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Business Preferred, etc. On Freedom cards there’s an exception for AirPods as you only get a 20% bonus for that particular line of products.
If you only have no-fee cards like the Freedom, Freedom Flex, Freedom Unlimited, Ink Business Cash or Ink Business Unlimited, getting 1.25cpp of value is actually very good seeing as you’re unable to transfer the points to travel partners without a premium card and so would normally be stuck getting a 1cpp redemption.
Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning cards that carry an annual fee allow you to transfer to partners, so that can often provide better value than redeeming at even a 1.5cpp rate on the Sapphire Reserve. However, 1.5cpp is still a fairly good redemption.
If you’re tempted by this Apple deal and have a Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve card though – don’t do it. That’s because Pay Yourself Back opens up additional savings and rewards opportunities which means you’d be overpaying for the Apple products. These two Sapphire cards are the exception because Pay Yourself Back can be used at grocery stores with them, while other Chase cards have more limited Pay Yourself Back options.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Let’s say you want to buy a pair of AirPods with a wireless charging case and have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Its list price is $199 which means you can redeem 13,266 Ultimate Rewards points based on the 1.5cpp redemption level available for those cardholders. (Side note: Chase very generously rounds down as it should be 12,667 points, saving you a whole 1 Ultimate Rewards point.)
That same product can be purchased from Amazon for $159.98 right now (our affiliate link). For the sake of easy math, we’ll assume you live in a state with no sales tax and so you’d only have to pay $159.98.
You can go to a grocery store and buy a $160 Amazon gift card and use that gift card to buy the AirPods. Seeing as you bought the gift card at a grocery store, you can use Chase’s Pay Yourself Back feature to offset that cost at the 1.5cpp redemption level. That means you’d only need to redeem 10,666 points rather than 13,266, so you’d be saving 2,600 points.
But there’s more.
You can currently earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points on the Sapphire Reserve card on up to $1,000 of grocery purchases each month. That $160 gift card purchase will therefore earn you 480 Ultimate Rewards points.
But there’s more.
Let’s say you bought the gift card at Kroger or one of its affiliate stores. They currently have a digital coupon offering 4x fuel points on all gift card purchases. $160 in gift cards earns you 640 fuel points. Conservatively assuming you don’t earn any additional fuel points this month, you can redeem 600 fuel points for 60c off per gallon of gas on up to 35 gallons. That’s up to $21 worth of gas savings, although that amount will vary depending on the size of your fuel tank.
So you have a choice. Redeem 13,266 points for a pair of AirPods through the Chase portal or redeem 10,666 by using Pay Yourself Back and also earn 480 Ultimate Rewards points and save up to $21 on gas. OK, that’s not really a choice at all.
The math doesn’t always work out with such a significant difference, but if you can redeem points using Pay Yourself Back on grocery store purchases, you’ll pretty much always be better off using Pay Yourself Back.
Another option is to use Pay Yourself Back to buy Apple gift cards at the grocery store now that their gift cards can be used to pay for Apple products (that was never an option with iTunes gift cards). Apple doesn’t tend to offer discounts on their own website, but if the product you’re after isn’t discounted elsewhere, that doesn’t really matter.
You can then click through to Apple’s website from a shopping portal to earn cashback or rewards. The rate for Apple is usually 1% or 1x through most portals, but airline portals are currently offering bonuses when hitting certain spending thresholds. If the Apple product(s) you want help you hit one of those thresholds, those additional miles will be a nice bonus.