Apple Card immodestly claims to “[completely rethink] all things credit card.” It’s right? Maybe.
Backed by the Mastercard network, Apple Card certainly has a number of innovative features that older credit cards don’t, like daily cash back and countless physical cards. And it’s a harbinger of the upcoming contactless and cashless payments landscape . No serious observer can deny that Apple Card is ahead of its time.
But any product that is truly ahead of its time must also be competitive today. And beyond its novel features, Apple Card works just like any other credit card. In fact, despite its newest additions, or perhaps because of it, it lacks some consumer – friendly features that are common to other cards popular cash – back cards and rewards general use.
Here’s a closer look at what sets Apple Card apart and how it compares to the best credit cards on the market.
Things to keep in mind about Apple’s credit card
Before we dive into the details of Apple Card, three points are worth mentioning.
First, while cardholders who do not pay the full balance on their statements each month are subject to interest charges that vary based on their creditworthiness and prevailing referral rates, Apple Card does not charge any of the fees typically charged by cardholders. credit card companies: no annual fee, no late fee, and no over-limit fee.
Second, Apple Card is designed to work with Apple Pay , which runs only on Apple (Mac) hardware. If you are one of the many millions of iPhone users in the United States, this card is for you. If you’re an Android loyalist, you’re out of luck.
Third, Apple Card has an unorthodox application process that doesn’t affect your credit score until you’ve accepted the offer (if approved). If you decide not to go ahead with obtaining an Apple Card after applying, or your application is not approved, your credit score will not decrease as a result of your inquiry.
Here’s a closer look at the Apple Card’s most notable features.
Apple Card has a three-tier cash back program:
- 3% cash back . All Apple purchases get an unlimited 3% cash back. These include, but are not limited to, purchases on Apple.com, physical Apple Stores, iTunes Store, App Store, and in-app purchases. Certain non-Apple purchases made with Apple Pay also earn 3% cash back rewards.
- 2% cash back . All other purchases made with Apple Pay (even through your Apple phone or Apple Watch) get an unlimited 2% cash back. Hundreds of major retail chains and brands, spanning more than 2 million individual online and offline merchant locations, accept Apple Pay. These include, but are not limited to, Walgreens, Nike, Uber Eats, Duane Reade, Amazon, and thousands of gas stations. If you are unfamiliar with how Apple Pay works, check out the Apple site for more details.
- 1% cash back . Online, offline and in-app purchases made with merchants who don’t accept Apple Pay get an unlimited 1% refund.
Redeem cash back
Cash rebates earned through Apple Card purchases accrue daily. Each day a purchase is posted to your account, you will receive the required cash back on your Apple Pay Cash card in the Apple Wallet app.
From there, you can use it to pay for purchases within or outside the Apple ecosystem or to make payments to your Apple Card balance.
If you do not have an Apple Pay Cash card and are not interested in obtaining one, you must accept the cash refund obtained on your Apple Card through statement credits, which may not be a big sacrifice.
Apple Pay integration
Apple Card is essentially a branch of Apple Wallet and Apple Cash. It is designed to be used in conjunction with Apple Pay, or more specifically, as the user’s default Apple Pay payment method. Apple clearly expects most Apple Card transactions to be made contactless, through a web portal, or with the touch of an iPhone.
Beyond the novelty of Apple Card as a truly “contactless first” credit card, users benefit from the strict security features of Apple Pay. These include:
- Unique device number . Your Apple Card is issued with a unique number that is stored in the secure element of your iPhone, the secure microchip that houses the most sensitive functions of the phone.
- Two factor purchase . Each purchase requires your unique device number, plus a unique code generated on the spot.
- Purchase authorisation through Face ID or Touch ID . This makes stolen phones practically useless for shopping.
Apple Card takes data security seriously, too. Apple and Goldman Sachs, the card issuer, agree never to share customer data with third parties. Only Goldman Sachs has access to users’ personal information and transaction histories.
Physical credit card
Apple Card is not 100% virtual. The physical Apple Card is a titanium card that looks and feels like any other premium credit card, except it’s a lot fancier. The face of the card is a minimalist trump, with no cardholder name, card number, or CVV and virtually no markings to spoil its metallic hue.
Apple and Goldman Sachs tout the security benefits of the absence of Apple Card features. Without any information to identify the card, it is useless in the wrong hands.
Real-time fraud protection
Apple Card’s real-time fraud protection feature notifies you each time your card is used to make a purchase. If something does not seem correct about a transaction, or if you know for sure that it did not, you can immediately start the dispute process by tapping on the notification.
Purchasing organisation and mapping
Apple Card automatically organises purchases by category of purchase (entertainment, food and beverage, etc.) and by merchant. Categories are colour-coded for easy viewing and total monthly for easy budgeting. With features like that, who needs a paid budget app ?
Apple Card also automatically allocates purchases and shows you where you’ve spent money recently, literally. If a real-time fraud protection notification goes unnoticed, it will attract your attention to see a purchase in a city you’ve never visited.
Apple Card spending summaries, visible in the Wallet app, reveal how much you’re spending and on what, in a given week or month. You can also view spending trends over time here, which is useful for regular budget reviews that you need to run.
Due dates and payment frequency
By default, Apple Card statements expire at the end of the month. If you prefer to pay balances more frequently and reduce interest charges when you cannot pay off your balance in full before the due date on the statement, you can also set up weekly or biweekly payments.
Apple Card’s built-in interest calculator automatically records expected interest charges when you pay less than the total balance due on your card before the grace period ends.
Credit card issuers must disclose on each statement the true cost of making only the minimum payment due compared to at least one higher monthly payment.
However, this is a much more robust and interactive interest calculator that is much more likely to push you to increase your monthly payment.
Interest reduction suggestions
If the interest calculator isn’t enough, Apple Card also provides “smart payment tips” that encourage cardholders to increase their monthly payments, thus lowering their total interest liability.
It’s unclear how Apple Card comes up with these suggestions, but they appear to be based on cardholders’ spending patterns and payment history.
Interest-free instalment payments
Apple Card offers interest-free monthly instalment payments for select Apple products purchased through the company’s sales channels. You can easily see the size of your instalments and how much you have to pay in the app.
Apple Card has a text-based support system that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you have a card problem or have a question that is not related to a disputed charge, which you can handle through the real-time fraud protection interface, this is your ticket to a resolution.
Apple Card doesn’t charge cardholders fees – no foreign transaction fees, balance transfer fees, or annual fees.
These are some of the main advantages of Apple Card.
1. No fees
Apple Card does not charge any fees to cardholders. This makes it anything but unique, as even cards with low stated fees charge fees for less common cases, such as late and returned payments.
2. Cash back accumulates daily
Apple Card is among the only widely available credit cards that accumulate cash rebates on a daily basis, rather than at the end of the statement cycle.
Although accrual frequency doesn’t affect net cash-back earnings or cash-back earning rates, it’s certainly good to see your expenses subsidised in near real time.
3. Solid cash-back rates on Apple and Apple Pay purchases
This card earns a 3% cash back on virtually all purchases within the Apple ecosystem, excluding purchases with Apple Pay merchants. This 3% category covers, but is not limited to, the following:
- Apple.com purchases
- Purchases at physical Apple Stores
- iTunes Store Purchases
- Purchases in the App Store
- In-app purchases
Apple Card also gets a 2% cash back on purchases made with Apple Pay merchants. So if you can limit your spending to the Apple ecosystems and Apple Pay, you’ll get a 2% cash back on this card with no annual fee, depending on your exact spending mix.
4. Above-average security features
Apple Card is more secure than your average credit card. The physical card doesn’t have a CVV or card number, so you won’t have to worry about what might happen between the time you lose your card and the time your account is frozen.
The virtual card is indicated by a unique device number (basically a second credit card number that changes constantly) stored in the secure element of your iPhone, away from prying eyes.
5. Protection against fraud in real time
Apple Card has another security feature worth promoting: real-time fraud protection that alerts you every time your card is used to make a purchase and allows you to flag potentially fraudulent transactions with a single touch.
Compared to the traditional dispute resolution process, this is very straightforward, even when the charges reported turn out to be legitimate.
6. Easy and flexible payments
The default Apple Card payment due date, the last day of the month, is easy to remember, even without helpful reminders.
If you’re trying to budget on an irregular income and prefer not to wait until the end of the month to pay off your entire balance, Apple Card’s custom weekly and biweekly payment ranges have you covered.
Other credit cards allow you to pay off balances throughout the month, but few make it as easy as Apple Card.
7. Interest reduction functions
The Apple Card Interest Calculator and Interest Reduction Tips are classic examples of “push” theory in action. By revealing how much you’ll save over time by paying a little more upfront, these features drive you to make smart financial decisions.
Of course, it’s always best to pay your balance in full before the statement’s due date, but when unexpected expenses make it impossible, it’s good to feel like your credit card issuer is on your side.
8. Useful budgeting and spending control functions
With so many budget and expense tracking features, Apple Card feels like a personal budgeting suite with built-in spending aid.
Maybe that’s the point. Although most small business credit cards have basic expense tracking and reporting features, the Apple Card package is unusually robust for a consumer credit card.
If it’s the inherent downside of independent budgeting software that keeps you from creating and sticking to a family budget, this can be a game changer.
9. Customer service based on text messages
Apple Card’s text-based customer support is a low-friction alternative to overly automated and menu-laden phone support and unpredictable email support.
Whether this feature is as efficient as Apple and Goldman Sachs promise remains to be seen, but it’s hard to see that it’s worse than the status quo, at least for relatively simple problems.
10. No penalty interest charges
Apple Card does not charge penalty interest. While it is best never to find yourself in a position where penalty interest applies, the assurance that you will not be unduly penalised for an error beyond your control is certainly welcome.
Consider these potential downsides before applying for the Apple Card.
1. Requires Apple Pay and Apple hardware
The biggest drawback of Apple Card is its exclusivity. The card requires Apple Pay, which runs exclusively on Apple hardware, which means it is not appropriate for users of Android or Windows devices.
If you are determined to apply for the Apple card, but do not have an iPhone or other compatible Apple device, the Apple Watch is your most cost-effective option. Apple Pay works perfectly on the Apple Watch, and you can purchase refurbished older versions (Series 1, 2, and 3) for less than $ 100.
However, it is still a significant outlay and no other credit card on the market requires compatible hardware.
2. Only 1% cash back on non-Apple Pay purchases
Apple Card gets only 1% cash back on non-Apple Pay purchases. If your daily, weekly, and monthly spending habits involve merchants who mostly accept Apple Pay, you shouldn’t have a problem earning the highest 2% cash-back rate, but not all merchants do.
Square has a non-exhaustive list of the top merchants that accept Apple Pay. Do yourself a favor and review it before applying for this card.
3. First Goldman Sachs credit card
Apple Card is the first consumer credit card issued by Goldman Sachs Bank. Apple touts this as an advantage, arguing that Goldman Sachs is not limited by the limitations of legacy credit card issuers like Chase and Barclays.
And it’s not like Goldman Sachs is completely new to consumer finance. Its Marcus by Goldman Sachs loan and savings products are innovative and appreciated.
That said, it’s not hard to imagine a first-time credit card issuer experiencing some growth issues, especially given the novelty of Apple Card. At the very least, don’t be surprised to see iterative changes to Apple Card as Goldman Sachs figures out what works and what doesn’t.
4. No registration bonus
Apple Card does not have a registration bonus. While this is subject to change at any time in the future, it is worth noting here and now. Many competing cards, including popular cash back cards, offer prepayment bonuses or introductory APR periods for purchases or balance transfers (or both).
If you’re a committed Apple Pay user with the hardware to back it up (an iPhone, Apple Watch, or maybe an iPad), then it might make sense for you to ditch your traditional credit cards and stake everything on Apple Card.
Users who restrict their spending to only Apple Pay merchants can earn 2% cash back across the board – the best you get consistently for premium cash back credit cards. To do better than that, you’ll need to upgrade to a premium travel rewards credit card with a hefty annual fee.