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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?

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 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.

Cash-Back

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.

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. For those of you who frequently eat out, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card which offers 4% on dining would be a solid choice. If you're constantly buying food for your hungry family, you'll want to take a look at the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express that offers 6% cash-back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (drops to 1% after that). That same card from American Express also earns 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, which could be incredibly valuable as we near the summer travel season. There are also great flat-rate cash-back cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® at 1.5%.

Updated April 1, 2019: Added Apple Card features and news gleaned from a recent TechCrunch report.

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