Chase Ultimate Reward points have become even more useful in the last year thanks to the Pay Yourself Back program. Even before that, there was a lot of value you could get out of them by transferring them to travel partners and redeeming for premium redemptions. But, there are some other uses for Ultimate Reward points as well.
Redeem Ultimate Reward Points for Apple?
You can redeem Ultimate Rewards directly as cash/statement credits at 1 cent per point and you can also redeem for gift cards at 1 cent per point. Obviously, these are far from the best redemption options but certainly simple and Chase is counting on some customers forgoing value for simplicity.
You can also redeem Ultimate Reward points for Apple products. This may sound like a good deal and even better when you consider that you can redeem them now, for a limited time, at a 25% percent bonus. For Chase Sapphire Reserve customers, that means getting 1.5 cents per point and for Chase Sapphire Preferred, that means getting 1.25 cents per point on Apple products.
In the past, when you selected to shop for Apple products with Chase points, Chase used Best Buy as their fulfillment partner. Now, they use Apple.
Why This Isn’t a Good Idea
If you want simplicity, sure, go for it! But, here are some reasons that this is not a good idea.
First of all is that there could be a delay on many items. For instance, when selecting the new 11″ iPad Pro, I can get it from Apple right now next week. Chase says there will be a 4-6 week timeframe to receive it. This is because it is not a real-time transaction that is occurring as you redeem your points with Chase and then Chase actually purchases the iPad on your behalf.
The next reason is about sales. Rarely does Apple ever offer a discount directly through their site (unless you are able to use the education portal with Apple). This means you will always pay full price. But, there are almost always deals you can get on Apple gear. For example, right now, you can get $50 off that iPad Pro mentioned above – even though it just came out a month ago! The same is true for many pieces of Apple gear. You can shop at Best Buy or Amazon and almost always get a better price than direct from Apple.
Speaking of Best Buy and Amazon, that gives us reason #3 – rewards through them. With Best Buy, you cannot earn reward points on Apple purchases but you can redeem Best Buy reward certificates for Apple products. So, if you have accrued Best Buy reward points, you can cash them in for an Apple device. With Amazon, you can earn 5% back if you have the Amazon Prime credit card or use one of the many discount deals available with other credit card reward programs.
Next we have warranty. While card issuers have been stripping away some of the protection policies on credit cards, you can still get things like extended warranties with American Express when you purchase an item with your American Express card. You won’t get that from Amex when redeeming with Chase points (though you can get Chase’s extended warranty when redeeming Chase points).
Lastly, you get the points you would earn when buying an Apple product with a credit card. For example, I earn 3X points on my American Express Business Gold card for purchases from a computer store. That is like getting a 5% return, based on my valuation of Membership Reward points.
But, What if You Want to Redeem Points for Apple?
So, what do you do if you have like 100,000 Ultimate Reward points from the current Chase Sapphire Preferred card offer and you want to get that shiny new iMac or another piece of gear from Apple?
Fortunately, you can redeem your Ultimate Reward points at that same value to cover purchases you have already made at grocery stores, dining establishments, or home improvement stores. So, if you want to go back and wipe out $1,250 in purchases in those categories, you can do that and now you can use the $1,250 you were going to use to pay those bills to buy an Apple device instead!
Since Chase is sending out e-mails advertising this option fo redeeming points for Apple at an increased value, I thought it was worth a post to look at why you shouldn’t do that and how you can still get a great deal using your points and getting Apple – just needing to add an extra couple of steps.