As someone who is mostly out of the US, I am always on the lookout/prowl for ways to generate points (manufactured spending) without hassle for someone having to do much for me in the US. Sometimes, my ideas do not translate to anything that ends up being that useful/practical, but it is always a good excercise for exploring new opportunities!
Manufactured Spending with Apple Watch
This is one of those ideas that may or may not turn into something that could help generate points – whether you are in the US or not. If you are an Apple fan, you have most likely heard the uptick in rumors about the coming Apple Watch (which, if you think miles and points bloggers talk about miles and points too enthusiastically, you must not read tech/gadget blogs because they are positively giddy about all things Apple!). The Apple Watch, or Watch, is due to arrive most likely sometime in April and will come in three different editions with numerous combinations with optional wristbands.
Apple Watch Pricing
When Apple did the unveiling of the Apple Watch last September, the only thing they said regarding price was that it would “start at $349.” That will be the starting point for the watch and will most likely be the price we will see the sport edition with the basic band be at. From there, there will be the regular Apple Watch (as opposed to the Sport), which many estimate will be somewhere between $500 – $1,000, and the Apple Watch Edition, the very high-end, gold watch.
The Apple Watch Edition is the one I want to focus on. It’s case will be made from 18-karat gold and come with a sapphire display and is really going after the upper-fashion edge of watches. Rumors have run wild for months about what this watch could end up costing but most agree that it will be at least $5,000 for the Apple Watch Edition. That is a lot of money to spend on a watch, but there are people that have it to spend and will spend it. Unfortunately, there are also those that do not have it to spend but will buy it anyway because it is a top Apple product.
The Manufactured Spending Angle
When it is finally released, it may very well be as just about every other Apple product launch – limited inventory on the higher end models and a vastly overpaying secondary market for that model. That is what happens all the time. The high-end iPhones, Macbooks, Mac Pros, and iPads all have seen limited release of the upper models and incredible demand for them. I have been fortunate enough to grab a few of those various models over time (by a couple extra helps to pay for the one I actually want to keep!) and am always astounded at the price people are willing to pay for them. But, they want to pay, so I guess it is a win-win!
How does that translate to manufactured spending? If that holds true with the Apple Watch, the Edition model will be the model with the fewest available (reports say that the first batch will have around 850,000 of the Edition available, 17% of the overall Apple Watches in the first batch). While I do not think that people will jump on them the same way they do a 128GB iPhone 6 Plus (because of the price), I suspect that there will be more than a few people that will want one right away and pay any price to have it. That is where the manufactured spending part can come in.
If you have the American Express Business Rewards Gold card, you are now able to select categories that you wish to receive 3X points on for spending. One of those is electronics stores of which Apple is one. So, you could receive 3X Membership Reward points on any Apple purchases. Going through a portal (though many portals will restrict new Apple releases from receiving portal bonuses) will net you even more.
For example, the Ultimate Rewards Mall (or Shop Through Chase) pays out 23x Ultimate Reward points for Apple purchases (2 points + plus the 1 from using your Chase card). That is a decent amount for Ultimate Rewards from a provider like Apple!
If you do end up buying 1 (or 2, 3 or more), the best path would then to be to sell them on eBay. My experience with eBay and new Apple products is that they will definitely sell, especially right after launch and when demand outweighs supply (which would be true for any product but is a sure thing with Apple).
At this point, I would not even be too worried about generating any kind of massive profit but more with moving the watch(es) quickly to get the money back. Using eBay can provide good protection for the sellers if you use tracking and if you have never opened the item and do not ship outside of the US (without using the eBay global shipping program that simply has you send to a US facility for them to ship) and I have never had any dispute that I did not win. That is not to say I get a lot of disputes, but there are always people that try to cheat others and using those little tips have helped me to stay safe with my feedback and money.
Running the Numbers
Let’s say that the Edition does retail for $5,000. If you use the Amex Business Rewards Gold card and do it through the Chase portal to go to Apple, each watch purchase (before taxes) would net you – 15,000 Membership Reward points and 10,000 Ultimate Reward points.
Now, you need to sell them. If you opened a basic eBay seller store, it will cost $20 per month, which is totally worth it because it drops the final value fee to 5% from 10%. On top of that, figure 3% that PayPal will charge you for the processing and you get 8% in fees.
As an example, we will look 8% for sales tax. Each $5,000 watch would cost me $5,400 to purchase from Apple. To recoup my eBay fee costs, I would have to sell it for a minimum of $5,900. That would cover the $492 in eBay and PayPal fees, the tax, and the cost of the watch while leaving enough leftover for shipping (which you might want to add insurance on to!). Believe it or not, people will pay that for Apple product when they are released!
If you multiply that times however many watches you can/want to purchase at launch, you could earn some significant points in a small number of purchases and for just a little bit of time. Of course, if you are unable to sell them, Apple has a good return policy of 14 days from the time you receive the item. If you do not open it, there will not be any problem returning it and they will be able to just turnaround and sell it again.
Is this worth it? It remains to be seen! If the price is high enough, I may buy one just to play with the resell on it and see how it works out. With reports that Apple is going to be ordering 1 million of the Edition watches per month, the best time to make this happen is right away. I have no idea if this would work out or not at this point.
This could be an interesting way to generate a massive amount of points with very little work. If nothing else, it demonstrates that it can be useful to sometimes think outside of the box when it comes to manufactured spending.