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Apple Card was announced during Apple’s Show Time event on March 25, 2019, at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California. It is a mobile-first credit card that’s tightly integrated into the Wallet iPhone app and offers exclusive cash-back benefits for Apple-related purchases. The card represents an opportunity for Apple to bring its user-friendly interfaces and functionality to an industry that is known for moving slowly when it comes to adopting new technology.
The credit card industry is an extremely crowded space with established players offering huge sign-up bonuses and lucrative cash-back offers, but Apple is betting its focus on a more user-friendly experience and privacy will help it win over consumers.
What is Apple Card?
Apple Card is a consumer U.S. credit card issued by Goldman Sachs. A digital version of it lives in the Wallet app of your iPhone geared towards online and in-store contactless purchases. There’s also a physical version which is made of titanium and unlike most credit cards, does not contain your card number, expiration date, CVV security code or signature in an effort to better protect your account information.
What benefits does Apple Card offer?
Apple is positioning Apple Card’s tight iPhone integration as its greatest benefit and key differentiator over its competition. The entire experience, from application to the redemption of rewards, all takes place in the Wallet app. That’s in stark contrast to other credit cards that sometimes have multiple apps to take advantage of their complete suite of benefits. Apple Card will provide weekly and monthly summaries so you can track trends in spending to make better budgeting decisions. Instead of nearly impossible to decipher statements, Apple Card provides actual merchant names, locations, and dates to each transaction. Additional features include categories to better understand your where your money is going and clear payment options that encourage healthy financial decisions.
Apple Card is a cash-back credit card that offers 2% cash-back on all purchases when you pay with Apple Pay, 1% cash-back when you pay using the physical card and 3% cash-back on purchases made directly from Apple, including iTunes digital media. Funds earned from the cash-back benefit are called ‘Daily Cash’ and are available each day to be redeemed in various ways using your Apple Cash card (sign-up for free now to be ready). However, if you don’t have an Apple Cash card, your only redemption method will be statement credit.
There was no mention of a sign-up bonus during Apple’s announcement, which is strange as many of the best cash-back cards still offer valuable sign-up deals.
Security and Privacy
Another major benefit of Apple Card is its approach to security and privacy. Not printing any of your account information on the physical card is just the beginning. Once you’re approved for Apple Card, a unique device number is locked away on your iPhone. Each transaction requires that device number and a one-time security code that’s generated from Touch ID or Face ID, with no signature required. According to TechCrunch, you’ll even be able to manually generate a new credit card number to use for situations where you need to disclose a number, but don’t necessarily trust the merchant. Apple also promises that Goldman Sachs “will never share or sell your data to third parties for marketing or advertising.”
What is the physical card like?
For purchases where you can’t use Apple Pay, Apple has designed its own physical card. The credit card is going to be, much like everything Apple does, one of the most unique cards ever created. The card is built out a titanium unibody construction, which Apple pioneered in computing with the first MacBook Air. This design will help the card’s durability and ability to withstand the test of time and conditions. The front of the card will feature the cardholder’s name, the Apple logo, and the EMV chip that has been redesigned by Apple. The back of the card will display the Goldman Sachs and Mastercard logos, as well as the magnetic stripe, which runs to the bottom of the card. All of the markings on the card are laser etched engraved. The attention to detail is phenomenal, something that is indicative of Apple’s obsessive commitment to design. If you are looking for a deep dive into the design of Apple Card, Arun Venkatesan goes into intricate detail on his recent blog post.
A few Apple employees have already gotten their hands on the new Apple Card. Macrumors has reported new images of the Apple Card on Twitter. Leaked by Ben Geskin, they show the new credit card in its packaging while of course photoshopping over the name on the card to protect the Apple employee who leaked it. The packaging contains a caption underneath the card reading “Activate Your Card: Wake iPhone and hold here.” This confirms that new cardholders will activate their physical Apple Card much like pairing AirPods by holding the iPhone near them and following the activation prompt that appears on the iPhone.
Does Apple Card have an annual fee?
Apple Card will not require an annual fee. Furthermore, Apple promises not to charge any late, international or over-the-limit fees. However, the fine print does state that “late or missed payments will result in additional interest accumulating toward your balance.” It is important to note that this does not mean that Apple will increase your interest rate if you miss a payment. They will, however, report your late payment to credit bureaus and you will continue to accrue interest on your balance.
Interest rate information as of March 2019 is as follows: “Variable APRs range from 13.24% to 24.24% based on creditworthiness.” While this isn’t as revolutionary as many had hoped, Apple is going to place Apple Card users at the lower end of whatever interest rate tier they land in, according to TechCrunch. This is a small but meaningful change, as every percent less means accruing less debt, which is something Apple Card promises to help all of us avoid.
How and when can I sign up for Apple Card?
Apple Card is slated to be available sometime in the summer of 2019. When it is available, you’ll be able to apply for the card using the Wallet app on your iPhone. While the exact launch date is unknown, you can sign up to be notified by Apple when it is available. Currently, the product is set up for only one card per person, meaning that there is no way to sign up for a shared card or to add an authorized user.
How do I activate my Apple Card?
As reported by TechCrunch, activating your Apple Card is going to be incredibly easy. Your virtual card will be available in the Wallet app immediately when you are approved for the card, as well as being auto-filled for use in Safari. When you get your physical titanium card in the mail, you’ll activate it by simply tapping your iPhone to the card. This will trigger a welcome animation of your new card and an activation button on your iPhone, similar to how you pair AirPods. As soon as you activate, your physical card will be ready for use. If you ever lose your physical card, replacing it is completely free.
Should I wait for the Apple credit card to be released before signing up for another card?
You don’t have to wait until Apple Card arrives to put a high-earning cash-back card in your wallet. Here are some of the best cash back credit cards on the market right now that are a fantastic alternative to Apple Card. You may even find a card better suited for your needs!
Tiered cash back
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
This card gets you 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year then 1%), 2% cash back at U.S gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. There’s no annual fee and unlike Apple Card, you’ll earn a valuable sign-up bonus to the tune of a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months
Twice the cash
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After the first year, earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers (variable APR of 17.24-25.99% after that). No annual fee.
Simple cash back
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Earning cash back doesn’t get easier than it is with the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. You’ll earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make and no annual fee is required. We also love that it includes a $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months. Put off paying for that iPhone purchase with 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months.
All the cash back
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
This card gets you 6% cash back on U.S. streaming services, 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year then 1%), 3% cash back at U.S gas stations and on transit, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. You’ll earn a valuable sign-up bonus to the tune of a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months. There is also a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable APR, 15.24% to 26.24%.
Feed your inner foodie
Savor® Rewards from Capital One®
This card gets you unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% cash back at grocery stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. You’ll earn a valuable sign-up bonus to the tune of a $500 cash bonus after you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months. The card has a $95 annual fee which is waived the first year.
Updated April 1, 2019: Added Apple Card features and news gleaned from a recent TechCrunch report.
Updated May 13, 2019: Added information about Apple Card image leaks from a recent Macrumors article.
This article was originally posted here