Apple has begun to roll out the Apple Card, which will reward fans of the company’s products and offer money management tools. But its 1 percent cash back on physical card purchases not from Apple falls short compared to other cash back cards on the market.
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Apple has launched its new credit card, which rewards fans of the company’s products and offer money management tools.
The Apple Card offers 3 percent Daily Cash back on Apple purchases, Uber and Uber Eats, and Walgreens and Duane Reade (effective Sept. 13), and 2 percent on purchases made with Apple’s mobile wallet, Apple Pay. In time, the Apple Card will add more merchants and apps to its list of 3 percent Daily Cash earners. Users will earn 1 percent cash back on purchases made with the physical card.
When you earn cash back on the Apple Card, it’s added to your account on the same day, rather than after the current billing cycle ends. And the cash back can be sent to your virtual Apple Cash card, where it can be used for anything – including sending money to friends without getting charged a fee. (But Apple has also ended peer-to-peer payments using credit cards in its Wallet app.)
The card also features budgeting and debt management tools in the Wallet app.
News of Apple and Goldman Sachs’ credit card collaboration first broke in May 2018, but there were few details at that time about how the card would be structured.
Apple Card: Everything you need to know
The nitty gritty
An iPhone-first credit card, potential cardholders will sign up for the Apple Card on their phones in the Wallet app – they don’t even have to download a new app. Cardholders will also receive a physical card made of titanium.
The card will not come with any fees – no annual, late or foreign transaction fees – and no penalty APR. The regular APR will range from 13.24 percent to 24.24 percent – and Apple will encourage cardholders to pay in full (or as much as possible) by showing the cost of interest in clear dollar terms.
As a commitment to privacy, Apple said it won’t be able to see your transaction history, and Goldman Sachs won’t share or sell your info.
The new card issue will not affect the existing Barclaycard Visa with Apple Rewards.
See related: Best Credit Cards
An expert’s opinion
Ted Rossman, industry analyst at CreditCards.com, is underwhelmed by the details of the new card.
“This card will get a lot of headlines, but its bark is greater than its bite. 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,” Rossman said.
Rossman noted the Citi® Double Cash Card offers 2 percent cash back on all purchases (not just Apple Pay) – 1 percent when you spend, and another 1 percent when you pay.
And if you want to maximize Apple Pay, the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card gives 3 points per dollar on mobile wallet spending (worth 3 percent cash back or 4.5 percent off travel).
“That’s really interesting: U.S. Bank offers better Apple Pay rewards than Apple,” Rossman said.
But Rossman said Apple may be offering more cash back for Apple Pay to boost usage (according to research from Crone, PayPal and Venmo have 267 million users, while Apple Pay has 32 million).
Plus, as a merchant, Apple will save on interchange fees when card users buy something from Apple.
As a service provider, it will get a cut of Apple Card transactions elsewhere, plus the potential to earn interest from cardholders who carry balances.
But as a cardholder, you need to be an iPhone user to maximize your benefits, Rossman said.
By contrast, you don’t need to use Uber to get high-end cash back from the Uber Visa Card (which offers 4 points per dollar at restaurants and 3 points for airfare, hotels and vacation home rentals).
“Apple could have made a similar push for a broader customer base but did not,” Rossman said.
Editor’s note: This story was updated Sept. 12 to reflect the addition of Walgreens and Duane Reade to the 3 percent cash back bonus category.