Apple’s first foray into the credit card game has been long expected, but that didn’t make the introduction of the Apple Card any less exciting—at least, for investors. Whether the Apple credit card is any good for consumers remains an open question, as details are relatively scarce. However, we do know some of the basic details about the Apple Credit Card.
First and foremost, it’s important to note that the Apple Card is a digital-first card. You don’t actually need a physical credit card in order to use Apple Card (though a physical card can be provided for you should you desire one). This aligns with Apple’s other monetary programs, such as Apple Pay and Apple Cash.
Apple Card Incentives
The Apple Card will offer special rewards to consumers already loyal to the company’s brand or active in Apple’s monetary ecosystem. Card users will receive 3% cash back when making Apple purchases and 2% cash back when making purchases with Apple Pay. They will also receive 1% cash back on all purchases made with the card.
Apple has partnered with Goldman Sachs and Master Card to handle the basic financial side of things, meaning the Apple Card will be accepted anywhere that takes Master Card or Apple Pay. While Apple enthusiasts are certainly happy about the ability to earn extra cash back using Apple Card, questions remain about whether this new credit card will serve consumers well in the long run.
Integration with Apple Services
Apple Card is, essentially, a digital-first card system—meaning the physical card is something of an afterthought. This makes integration with other Apple services quite seamless.
Some of those integrations include:
- Pay Your Apple Card Balance with Apple Cash: There’s no getting around the fact that Apple Card, Apple Cash, and Apple Pay are part of the same ecosystem. That’s why it’s not surprising that you can use Apple Pay, for example, to make monthly Apple Card payments.
- Rewards Go Right to Apple Cash: If you have an Apple Cash account, your rewards go right to that. With most credit card reward systems, you have to request access to your points when you’re ready to redeem them. With Apple Cash, users have access to their rewards immediately.
- You Can Activate Your Card From Your App: One of the things that makes Apple Card different is that you will never know your credit card number. (This number is hard coded into the card’s magnetic strip.) Instead, you can activate a “virtual” card with a virtual number from your Apple Card app.
- Virtual Card Numbers: The other thing you can do from the Apple Card app is create an entirely new card number. Just push a button and your card number changes. This can help ensure the security and integrity of your Apple Card (especially if you have to give out your card number to someone you don’t entirely trust).
Apple has touted some of the other benefits of the Apple Card as well. According to Apple reps, there will be no late fees or increased interest rates in the event of a late payment (at least, until the next year). If you can’t make your payments, Apple will make a one-year payment plan with you. Applicants for Apple Cards will also be placed near the bottom of the interest-rate brackets they qualify for, which could give consumers better-than-average interest rates.
Additionally, Apple will not collect data on your purchases—or, at least, what’s what they’re saying. It’s difficult to know precisely how that data will be handled.
There are some details surrounding Apple Card that remain unclear. For example, while Apple has made a commitment not to share personal information more than necessary, the exact terms of the company’s agreements with Goldman Sachs and Master Card remain less than transparent.
There are also real questions about the appeal of the card beyond Apple’s most ardent supporters. For fans of the tech giant, the Apple Card can make a lot of sense in large part because of its integration. And there are several ways in which the Apple Card is unique—offering robust security features, multiple ways to pay, and so on.
There’s no doubt that Apple sees a cashless, cardless future on the horizon. In some ways, Apple Card may be a stepping stone on the path to that future. Whether it works or not remains to be seen.
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