Apple Savings and Points

So let’s say you finally gave in and agreed to buy your son or daughter a new computer before school starts.  Not only that, but let’s say they’ve convinced you that they absolutely need the expensive new Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display.  If this is you, then you’re probably wondering how to maximize points and savings on this deal.  Let’s see what we can do…

Did you know you don’t have to buy Apple computers at Apple stores?  Let’s compare three options for buying the MacBook Pro with Retina Display: Apple Store, Best Buy, and Amazon.com.  Below are my recommendations for maximizing savings with each:

Apple Store

Apple lists the retail price of the MacBook Pro (256GB) at $2199 with free shipping.  Here’s how to cut that price down:

  • uPromise:  Create an account at uPromise.com, search for Apple and click through to the Apple Store.  You should get 5% cash back.
  • Eduction pricing:  You can qualify for education pricing if you’re a college student or a parent of a college student; or if you’re a teacher; or if you’re staff or faculty at a university.  You can find the full eligibility requirements here.  The education price for the MacBook Pro is $1999.  That’s a 9% discount!

Final expected cost (before sales tax): $1999 – 5% = $1899.05.  That’s a 13.6% discount off the retail price!

Best Buy

Best Buy currently lists the price of the same MacBook Pro at $2089.99.  That’s already 5% off of the retail price, but you can do better:

  • Discount Gift Cards:  Search GiftCardGranny.com for Best Buy gift cards.  Currently, there are quite a few available for 6% off.  If you find good ones at PlasticJungle and you start at TopCashBack, you can do even better!  For simplicity, let’s assume that you buy $2000 worth of gift cards with an average of 6% savings. In other words, it should cost you about $1880 for $2000 worth of gift cards.
  • uPromise: Just as with the Apple Store, you can get cash back at Best Buy as well.  Go to uPromise and search for Best Buy.  You should get 5% cash back.
  • Best Buy Reward Zone: Members of Best Buy’s Reward Zone program receive points worth 2% of each purchase.  Points then become reward certificates that can be used to make future Best Buy purchases.  With this purchase you will earn approximately $40 worth of points.

Final expected cost (before sales tax): $2089.99 – 6% – 5% = $1860.10 (plus you get $40 in Best Buy credit).  One downside: by buying with gift cards, you do not get extended warranties or other protections offered by many credit cards.

Amazon.com

Amazon currently lists the MacBook Pro at $2194, but you can do better:

  • Buy OfficeMax gift cards for 10% off:  You need an American Express business card with OPEN Savings for this part.  See “10% off everything and 7% off everything else” for details.  If you buy $2000 worth of gift cards, you will get $200 back in OPEN Savings.  Alternatively, you can buy discount gift cards to OfficeMax by shopping via GiftCardGranny.com. 
  • Use OfficeMax gift cards in-store to buy Amazon gift cards: This step depends on having a friendly OfficeMax cashier willing to let you pay with gift cards (so do this at your own risk!).  This should be an even swap: $2000 of OfficeMax gift cards becomes $2000 in Amazon gift cards.  I recommend doing this in small batches over several visits.
  • Click through the Hawaiian Airlines portal: You’ll earn 1 mile per dollar if you start your shopping here.  Pay with gift cards.

Final expected cost: $2194 – $200 = $1994 (plus about 2000 Hawaiian Airlines miles).  You will save even more if you live in a state in which Amazon does not charge sales tax.  Depending on the size of your local sales tax, this could make Amazon the cheapest route to go.  As with Best Buy, by buying with gift cards, you do not get extended warranties or other protections offered by many credit cards.

Bottom Line

The Best Buy and Amazon tricks could lead to a slightly better price than the Apple Store, but only with a lot of effort.  If you qualify for Apple’s education discount, I’d recommend doing this the easy way and follow the steps above under “Apple Store”.

Increasing Points

There are two more point-earning tricks you can choose from regardless of which store you decide to go with: 

  1. Sign up for a credit card with a great sign-up bonus.  See great options on the “Best credit card offers” page.  Many of these cards require thousands of dollars of minimum spend in order to qualify for the sign-up bonus.  By using such a card for a big purchase like this, you’ll get far along towards the bonus!
  2. If you have an Ink Bold credit card, use the trick described in the post “One card to rule them all” (please read that post if you haven’t already).  This way you’ll earn 5 points per dollar for this purchase.  In other words, you can earn approximately 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points for buying the MacBook laptop! 

Other Ideas?

Do you have a better way to save and earn points when buying Apple gear?  Comment below.


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Comments

  1. BB wil be even cheaper by 4% if you go from TCB and buy 6% GCs. So very close to 90.24 cost. Buying a Mac on GCs is scary since you need the extra protection beyond 1 year which you can get on AX credit cards.

  2. Be aware that using the prepaid Amex cards will not extend the warranty like all other Amex charge or credit cards. Also you cannot split the purchase amount between an Amex credit card and prepaid card to work around that. You’ll only be entitled to warranty coverage of up to the amount you put on the Amex credit card. If not for that, the prepaid card would be a perfect option.

  3. Going to the education store changes the URL, will you still get credit from upromise? I don’t think I’ve gotten the extra cash back when using shop discover and taking the education discount. .

    • Daniel: Good question. The uPromise T&C says ” purchases made at the Education Store are only eligible if made by an individual for personal use”. So, my read of that is that as long as you are buying for personal use you are entitled to the 5%. Whether it automatically tracks as it’s supposed to is another matter…

  4. warnng!!?? i love that 10% office max OPEN discount, but isnt there a big difference between itunes GCs and apple GCs?

    • Dan: Yes there is a huge difference between itunes GCs and apple GCs, but I wasn’t recommending either. My suggestion was to buy Amazon GCs using OfficeMax GCs

      caveman: I’m equally miserly. I’ve always bought PCs for the exact same reason while envying friends with Macs.

  5. I have three kids and each time I started with apple but ultimately settled for PC. Each time price factor was the killer. I simply cannot justify burning hard earned cash three times more than what you can get otherwise. I am convinced that apple is superior in each and every aspect. There is no comparison at all but I cannot spoil college kid so soon. They will have plenty of opportunities later in life. Or may be I am trying to justify how miserly I am.

  6. After adjusting for the cost of taxes (and really, who pays the “use tax” on online purchases) I find it’s cheaper to buy my Macs through MacConnection.com or some similar online retailer than to pay the student prices. It’s still a discount over normal prices, though $20-30 more than student prices. I’d rather pay that $20-30 more than have to pay $100-200 in taxes. Combine that with pre-paid AmEx cards, and you have yourself a nice deal.

  7. You get a $100 iTunes card if you buy through the apple store (by Sept 21st) in ADDITION to the education pricing.

    Also, best buy will MATCH apple education prices if you’re a student (although I don’t think they’ll throw in the extra $100 card).

    Makes those options more attractive.

    I’ve always wondered re: credit card warranty protection – do you have to put the full amount? Or could a purchase paid primarily with gift cards (and only a little with CC) potentially qualify you for the whole set of benefits?

  8. I CARELESS ABOUT ANY HILTON CARDS, out of all the hotel points program and availablity and value, hILTON is the worst, they devalued their points so now $120 hilton room costs over 26k to 45k points.

  9. I learned something new today. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS; anyone can join and it comes with a subscription to the journal Science), has a special pricing plan with Apple. While the normal education discount takes off about $50 from most computers, the AAAS discount is even greater, removing about $70 to $100 depending on the model. The discounts are not additive, so you have to choose one or the other, but it makes it more attractive to buy directly from Apple than from a third-party reseller.

  10. Scttrick,

    I went to AAAS website, it said that i had to send an email on how to get Apple discounts. So if i were to buy ipad for my kids (still in school not in college), would it work?

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