By Adam Jusko, ProudMoney.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Apple just officially announced the upcoming launch of its Apple Card credit card. As rumored, the card will be issued in partnership with Goldman Sachs, and it will be a Mastercard. In terms of availability, you will be able to apply for an Apple Card sometime this summer.
Interesting Features, But Not A Game-Changer
Based on today’s presentation at Apple’s product & service “Special Event,” the Apple Card will have some interesting features but is not nearly as exciting as the on-stage promotion would have you believe.
Let’s look at the details…
Built for Apple Pay
The no-annual-fee Apple Card is built to be used with Apple Pay from the Wallet app on your iPhone. We say this not only because the easiest way to get the card will be through the app, but also because you will get much better rewards on purchases made through Apple Pay than with the physical credit card.
Specifically, you will get 2% cash back on all purchases made through Apply Pay, except for purchases of Apple products, which will get you a 3% rebate. On the other hand, if you use the physical card outside of Apple Pay, it will only get you 1% cash back, a significant disincentive to use the physical card.
An interesting feature that many credit card users will find appealing is that the Apple Card will give out its cash back rebates on a daily basis. So, instead of waiting for your next card statement, or, worse, having to wait until you’ve reached $25 in rewards to access your cash, this card will give it to you almost immediately via the Wallet app.
Other Things to Know:
- Instant Approval & Immediate Use – You will be able to apply for the card through the Wallet app and, if approved instantly, use the card for purchases immediately via Apple Pay.
- Transparent Transactions – This one remains to be seen, but Apple says that they will use machine learning and Apple Maps to give you a clearer picture of your transactions in terms of exactly who the merchant is and where that merchant is located. If you’ve ever seen a card transaction described as “EXC FED ALLOC ORK” on your card statement and wondered if the charge was legitimate or you were the victim of fraud, you can see the appeal of this feature.
- No Fees – No annual fee, no late fees, no foreign transaction fees. They also say the card will have lower interest rates than other cards, but no specifics to back that claim.
- No Info Selling/Mining – Apple says your personal information will not be sold to other marketers or be accessed by Apple to market to you further.
- Innovative Physical Card – The physical Apple Card will have no credit card number printed on it, no expiration date on it, no CVV on the back, no signature line on the back — all of that information will only be accessible via the Wallet app. This approach allows Apple to have a credit card with aesthetic continuity in terms of a clean interface, but it’s debatable whether potential card users will find that to be a positive.
- No Upfront Bonus – At least not as far as we know. Not surprising, given that this is a card giving a 2% flat cash back rate on most purchases, which is a high rewards rate in today’s market.
So What Do We Think?
While Apple has put some thought into making a card that is somewhat different than other credit cards on the market, the Apple Card also is constructed to tie you very closely to the Apple ecosystem — almost punishing you for using the card any other way, by downgrading your reward to only 1% on non-Apple Pay purchases. The 2% on Apple Pay purchases is generous, however, and the 3% on Apple purchases is desirable for the hardcore Apple fan, but maybe not overly-exciting to those who don’t transact with Apple on a regular basis.
From our perspective, though, there are other 2% flat cash-back credit cards on the market that could just as easily be used with Apple Pay AND be given the 2% on all purchases, not just Apple Pay purchases. By making this card more restrictive, Apple is being self-serving and hoping cardholders don’t know any better or won’t do the research (and they might be right).
Overall, not a bad credit card from Apple, but not a game-changer. It will be interesting to see what the market thinks.