The Apple Card Is Decidedly Average

Photo: Apple

We have more details on Apple’s forthcoming credit card with Goldman Sachs following this week's Apple event, and if you were hoping for a rewards card that changes the game, well, this isn’t it.

Here are the main features of the Apple Card, first reported by the Wall Street Journal well before today’s announcement:

  • Users who use Apple Card with Apple Pay will get two per cent back on all purchases, and three per cent back on all Apple purchases. If you use the physical card, you get one per cent back.

  • That cash back is available as “Daily Cash,” a program that makes your cash back available on your Apple Cash card each day — quicker than your standard card, assuming you use Apple Pay.

  • It is built into Apple Wallet, meaning you can manage your card on your iPhone, if you’re into that kind of thing. You can sign up for it via Apple Wallet.

  • There are no fees: No annual fee, foreign transactions fees or late fees are charged, plus no penalty interest rate is applied.

  • It “encourages” customers to pay less interest, which is Apple-speak for “the app shows you how much more money you will owe in interest if you don’t pay off your balance.”

  • The physical card is titanium, and will not display a card number, CVV security code, expiration date or signature.

Other features

The Apple card does differentiate itself in a few ways. Because it’s integrated into your Apple wallet/smart phone, it can give you a holistic look at your spending, almost like it has Mint or another budgeting app built in.

“Apple Card uses machine learning and Apple Maps to clearly label transactions with merchant names and locations,” Apple notes. “Purchases are automatically totaled and organised by colour-coded categories such as Food and Drinks, Shopping and Entertainment.” It will also provide spending overviews.

Image: Apple

And perhaps most importantly, it bills itself as “fee free.” From Apple’s website:

There are no fees associated with Apple Card: no annual, late, international or over-the-limit fees. Apple Card’s goal is to provide interest rates that are among the lowest in the industry and if a customer misses a payment, they will not be charged a penalty rate.

That said, “the ‘no fees’ pitch isn’t as novel as it may sound, though,” says Ted Rossman, industry analyst at CreditCards.com. “That angle is also touted by cards like the PenFed Promise Visa and the Citi Simplicity.”

I reached out to Apple about interest rates and an estimated credit range to qualify, and will update the post if I hear back.

Drawbacks and other options

Those are some decent perks, but overall the Apple Card is just an OK rewards card. The biggest drawback is that you need to use it with Apple Pay to maximise your rewards.

“For those who routinely shop at local neighbourhood bodegas or other establishments that don’t have Apple Pay, you can expect only one per cent back on your purchase,” says Sara Rathner, NerdWallet’s credit card expert. And you can easily beat that with other no-fee rewards cards, as I wrote before:

There are other rewards cards that currently offer two per cent back on most purchases, including the Citi Double Cash. The Wells Fargo Cash Wise card gives cardholders 1.5 per cent back on all purchases, while the Capital One Savour card* offers three per cent back on dining, two per cent back on groceries and one per cent back on everything else.

To emphasise the Citi Double Cash card, you’ll get two per cent back on all purchases, not just Apple Pay purchases, though you get one per cent when you swipe and one per cent when you pay, not all at once.

“Frankly, I’m underwhelmed. This card will get a lot of headlines, but its bark is greater than its bite,” says Rossman. “People will sign up for it, but that will be mostly because they love Apple, not because this card is better than anything that already exists.”

As Rossman notes, it’s not actually even the best card for Apple Pay rewards. “If you want to maximise Apple Pay, the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite card gives three points per dollar on mobile wallet spending—worth three per cent cash back or 4.5 per cent off travel,” he says.


Comments

    There's a big difference between not being the best available card on the market and being decidedly average.

    I think the Apple card falls in the good not great category. Compared to all credit cards being used by iPhone users today it is likely better than 80% of cards. So it is definitely better than 'decidedly average'.

    As usual Apple are being judged by Apple standards, if they don't release the best possible product on the market it's labelled as 'average'.

      They don't release the best possible product on the market in a lot of cases. But people mistakenly perceive them to be the best. The problem I have with them releasing a credit card (and if you read into it they don't want you to own/use a physical card they want you to use the phone) is that fanboys won't do comparison checking and will just get it "because apple".

      I said this before in another post about the card, we really need to know the interest rate to judge it accurately. It's the most important part of the card. How much will it cost you to use.

        How nice of you to save the “fanboys” from Apple, and themselves.

        The card will have the same interest rate as any other master card backed by a bank. And you can order a physical card if you want one. Apple wont stop you. As an added bonus, it will probably be the best looking card in your wallet.

          Mastercards from different banks can have different interest rates. So yeah ok 0_o

          And you completely missed the fact that in order to maximum the rewards you actually need to NOT use their physical card. So they are deliberately encouraging you to use your phone (which will obviously be an iPhone).

          Your last sentence absolutely sums up what is wrong with this and wrong with Apple fanboys. When it comes to your personal finances it absolutely should not come down to looks, it should be based on performance. Jeez.

    Its a master card. To call it average is to call all master cards average.

    You can criticise its rewards program, but that’s quite different.

    This is just another click bait article.

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