Apple Card: Everything you need to know!

Apple Card
Apple Card (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

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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, and is now available to the public. It is a mobile-first credit card that's tightly integrated into the Wallet app on iPhone 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 (opens in new tab) and lucrative cash-back offers (opens in new tab), but Apple is betting its focus on a more user-friendly experience, security, 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 to better protect your account information.

What benefits does Apple Card offer?

User Experience

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 either the Wallet app on the iPhone or through the Apple Card website. That's in stark contrast to other credit cards that sometimes have multiple apps and websites to take advantage of their complete suite of benefits.

Apple Card provides weekly and monthly summaries so you can track trends in spending and make better budgeting decisions. Instead of nearly impossible to decipher statements, Apple Card provides actual merchant names, locations, and dates for each transaction. Additional features include categories to understand better where your money is going and clear payment options that encourage healthy financial decisions.

You can also download a CSV file of your Apple Card transactions or a PDF of your monthly statements. Transactions can also be exported to budgeting applications like Quicken and QuickBooks.

Cash-Back

Apple Card is a cash-back credit card that offers 2% cash-back on all purchases when you pay with Apple Pay and 1% cash-back when you pay using the physical card. Cardholders also earn 3% cash-back on purchases made directly from Apple, including purchases made at iTunes, the App Store, as well as subscriptions like Apple Music, Apple News+, and iCloud storage. Apple has also added 3% Daily Cash back on Apple Pay purchases at the following merchants:

  • Duane Reade
  • Exxon
  • Mobil
  • Nike
  • Panera
  • T-Mobile
  • Uber
  • Uber Eats
  • Walgreens

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 (opens in new tab) now to be ready). Use your Apple Cash Card to make purchases using Apple Pay, send money to friends, or even pay your Apple Card bill. However, if you don't have an Apple Cash card, your only redemption method will be statement credit.

Apple Card does not currently come with any kind of welcome bonus, which makes it an exception as many of the best cash-back cards still offer valuable sign-up deals (opens in new tab).

How to find your Apple Card Daily Cash

Financing

Apple has added the ability for Apple Card cardholders to finance their purchases at Apple. With Apple Card Monthly Installments (opens in new tab), cardholders can finance an Apple product interest-free from six months up to 24 months.

When you finance an iPhone, Mac, iPad, or Apple TV, you will still earn your 3% back in Daily Cash at the time of purchase. The plan works with Apple Trade-In, so you can pay even less per month for your financed iPhone, iPad, or Mac if you trade in something towards your new device. The monthly payment for your financed device is simply added to the minimum monthly payment of your Apple Card and can be monitored or paid off directly in the Wallet app.

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. Reported by TechCrunch, you are also 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 (opens in new tab) 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, much like everything Apple does, one of the most interesting cards ever created. It's built out a titanium unibody construction, which Apple pioneered in computing with the first MacBook Air. This design helps the card's durability and ability to withstand the test of time and conditions.

The front of the card features the cardholder's name, the Apple logo, and the EMV chip that has been redesigned by Apple. The back of the card displays 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 blog post.

The Apple Card packaging contains a caption underneath the card reading "Activate Your Card: Wake iPhone and hold here." New cardholders activate their physical Apple Card, much like pairing AirPods by holding their iPhone near the packaging and following the activation prompt that appears on their iPhone.

Those who have received the physical titanium card in the mail which has given us a look at the full packaging and have reported more details about the card itself, including the weight.

Does Apple Card have an annual fee?

Apple Card does not have an annual fee. Furthermore, Apple promises not to charge any late, international, or over-the-limit fees. However, the fine print (opens in new tab) 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 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 places all Apple Card users at the lower end of whatever interest rate tier they land in. 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?

You can apply for Apple Card now directly within the Wallet app on your iPhone. You need to be running at least iOS 12.4 and meet a few requirements to be eligible for the card.

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 to apply for Apple Card

How do I activate my Apple Card?

Activating your Apple Card is 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 entirely free.

Are there any other cash back cards like Apple Card?

Here are some of the best cash back credit cards on the market right now that are a fantastic alternative or partner to Apple Card. You may even find a card better suited for your needs!

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. Updated August 23, 2019: Updated article with new information after Apple Card's public release.

Joe Wituschek
Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.

35 Comments
  • This may gain traction, which worries me since again may be paranoid, but I don't doubt Apple will stop people they dislike for political reasons from using the card, thereby cutting the person off from funding, Patreon-Mastercard style.
  • Not sure what wacky laws would allow that to happen, but there's no way you would get that happening here in the UK. There's various laws which would stop that from happening over here, and I think some of them are provided by the EU as well (at least, for as long as we're in the EU…)
  • LMAO, it *literally* happened in the UK. Sargon of Akkad lives in the UK and Mastercard got him banned from Patreon. Plus, you arrest people like Dankula, so I don't think the UK, as much as I like your TV (Dwarf, Adder, Towers, Young Ones, AbFab, Office, etc), you're not great for free-speach atm.
  • I may have misunderstood, I though you were talking about Mastercard cutting the person off from using the credit card. What Patreon do is up to them, it's their service, Mastercard may have informed them but ultimately Patreon made that decision. You would never be able to have a credit card cancelled in the UK due to political reasons.
  • No, Patreon said they did it because Mastercard told them to. We'll see what happens, but Mastercard forcing Patreon to cancel Sargon's account because of politics is the start of banning based on speech. Again, you guys almost arrested Dankula. Edit: Also, yes, Patreon is 100% able to cancel any account (within their contractual rules), BUT they did it because of the card issuers, not speech. What's to stop Apple card from not allowing donations to Mike Pence's wife's school? Or churches that Apple doesn't approve of? They said they don't know what YOU buy, but not that they don't know what people in aggregate buy, nor where money goes.
  • If Mastercard told you to jump off a cliff, would you do it? Mastercard are independent from Patreon, and even if they do communicate to them, Patreon don't have to do what they say. In this case Patreon decided to act upon what Mastercard had told them, but they were never obliged to.
  • No, but Patreon's business model requires the use of such companies. As a gateway product they are over the barrel and their business is contingent on on-going business relationship. If you have a business, and there is only 1 bank and they all require a specific action then you will do that action or you won't do business. Yes there are other banks, but it is certainly limited in this field. Further there are contractual obligations and limitations limiting alternatives.
  • Not saying Apple specifically would but I’m wondering about that these days. When it suits them, big companies like to cut you out of their services if they can class your actions as those they don’t want to be associated with. On a much lesser scale, but look at how Apple treat Jessa at iPad Rehab, (She’s on Youtube if you’ve not seen her).
    She tells the truth, their mods/contributors tell lies and they ban HER.
    When they want a reason to shut you up, they’ll find a dishonest way to manufacture one.
    They just do things in a way that couldn’t be called official policy. Apple are actually really good at that. Really good.
  • Many large services are guilty of censorship, that's why there's services like Reddit, Mastodon, IRC channels etc, where you can broadcast almost any info you like.
  • Yep, definitely paranoid.
  • Tell that to Sargon of Akkad. You say "but he's anti-feminist*" and I say "right, and it'll swing further and further, once you give a mouse a cookie..." Edit: *third-wave
  • And the Mac line continues to suffer........ This bullspit has Tim Cook written all over it.
  • This has nothing to do with the Mac line (aside from the fact that you could pay for one on your new Apple Card)
  • Boy that went right over your head didn't it Rene? That's precisely the problem here. They're focusing on and putting their energy and money into this bull**** meanwhile their Mac line continues to suffer from mediocre and subpar updates. But then again Tim doesn't care about the Mac so this isn't too surprising.
  • Put yourself in Apple's shoes, Apple is a big company now and that's also the understatement of the century. Apple's biggest selling products are iPhones and iPads, Macs are probably one of Apple's weaker products truth be told. That being said, Apple hasn't abandoned the line like many people are stating. Progress may be a little slower, but there are clear signs that they still care about the Mac line, it's not going to disappear any time soon.
  • That's the problem with tying an operating platform to expensive hardware. Moved back to Windows full time and loving it. Microsoft doesn't have these problems. macOS gets very little unless it can benefit iOS, these days. Not really the way I want my desktop platform developed. Feels okay when you have an iPhone, but the iMac instantly felt worthless when I moved to the Note 9. Its now sitting in a closet. And the hardware is beyond overpriced (weaker machine for a grand+ more in price).
  • What do you want out of macOS that it doesn't currently have? Apart from better window management I can't really think of anything that I really want, it's a very mature OS. macOS gaining features to benefit iOS doesn't downgrade macOS, it just increases the benefits of being inside the Apple ecosystem
  • Well, we're all hoping for a better keyboard, but an Apple Services keynote is hardly going to deliver them. Apple have been known to have separate Keynotes for separate product lines (witness the autumn iPhones and the summer WWDC with iOS/macOS/tvOS/watchOS new versions) - so why would we be expecting a Mac Pro unveiling when this was purely about TV+, Arcade, News+ and.. Pay+? :)
  • My concern is more about credit scores. I have to assume applying and getting this card will impact my credit score as getting any credit card would, which is a shame since I just got a Capital One card not that long ago in order to take advantage of using Eno. Hopefully we’ll see some of these features be applied to other cards we have in the Wallet app. Perhaps in a year or so we’ll get a true Mint competitor in the Wallet app?
  • Not sure how the credit score differs between countries, but generally if you have a good credit history, applying for a credit card shouldn't make much of a difference to your score
  • In Canada, it's really really difficult to cancel a credit card without it negatively impacting your credit score.
  • Same in the US afaik.
  • That's why I just basically stopped using my Bank of America card other than once a year so those A-Holes don't cancel it on me.
  • I canceled all of mine like 14 years ago and have never gone back since. The only debt I have is ~$1,20] left on my student loans. Getting a Credit Card is like selling yourself into slavery.
  • What about the Barclay card that doesn’t charge interest on Apple purchases. Shouldn’t Apple card do that?
  • You'd hope so, but it wouldn't surprise me if it didn't.