July 20, 2012
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 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 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 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.
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”.
There are two more point-earning tricks you can choose from regardless of which store you decide to go with:
- 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!
- 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!
Do you have a better way to save and earn points when buying Apple gear? Comment below.