Apple's much-rumored credit card is now official, but one big caveat is that the Apple Card is only coming to the United States.
That's a shame because it would be a great fit for the UK. With a huge adoption of contactless payment terminals across the country, and even on London's transport network, Apple Card would be right at home.
The flip side is that the UK is already home to a number of progressive banks and card providers who offer innovative products that already compare favorably to the Apple Card. Here are the best ones.
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Starling Bank isn't just a great alternative to the Apple Card, it's one of the UK's best banks. Recent awards include Best British Bank and Best Current Account 2019, and it offers a compelling product for both business and personal users.
The first and biggest difference to Apple Card is that Starling is a bank, not just a credit card. And that means you have access to regular bank features, so you can pay in your salary, arrange overdrafts, take out a loan, and much more. Set up a personal account, a joint account, a business account or even a Euro account for managing money in Euros.
The card itself can be used wherever Mastercard is accepted, and also supports Apple Pay. From the Starling app, you can simply link your debit card to your Apple Pay wallet and be on your merry way.
One of the biggest advantages to Starling over the regular high street banks is the way it delivers your information. You get real-time transaction notifications, insights into your spending, and easy ways to start saving and budgeting.
Starling is 100% mobile banking with 24/7 in-app support, the ability to lock and unlock your card right from the app and no fees when you spend money while abroad. This is a glimpse at the future of banking, and it's glorious.
Monzo is another app-exclusive bank that is indeed a proper bank. If you're moving from another account with another bank, Monzo will do all the legwork for you and bring your salary, your direct debits and any scheduled payments without you having to do a thing.
The card itself is provided by Mastercard, so you can take it to virtually any country on earth and use it without a problem. It also supports Apple Pay, and a couple of taps from the Monzo app on your iPhone will add your card to your Wallet.
And as Monzo is an actual bank, you get bank features at your disposal, all on your phone. If you want to activate or deactivate an overdraft, no problem. Start a savings pot? Easy. Need help? Monzo has a 24/7 team available through the app to deliver it to you. The app is so easy to understand and use, it's one of Monzo's strongest positives.
Traveling is great since you can buy things abroad without the hidden fees traditional banks like to apply, and you can withdraw cash for free up to £200 a day. Anything over that does incur a 3% surcharge.
Monzo is also great for sending money to other people. It's about as easy as using PayPal, and international transfers are powered by TransferWise, so are a lot cheaper than many other banks, too.
N26 is a bank based in Germany with a few different options for personal or business use. One of its most attractive products is the N26 Black, which comes included with comprehensive travel and purchase insurance as well as fee-free cash withdrawals abroad.
For Apple Card enviers, however, there is the N26 Metal, the bank's premium account. And with it comes Europe's first contactless metal card, which as its provided by Mastercard, can also be used with ease worldwide. It's also available in three colors, the Apple Card can't say that!
Metal is every bit the premium bank account. It has its own dedicated support team, free unlimited global cash withdrawals, complimentary LoungeKey membership for using airport lounges around the world as well as a number of exclusive partner offers.
Many of the benefits of N26 can be had with its standard, free bank account. But it stands apart with its premium offerings. Black is available for £4.90 a month while the Metal account is a little more expensive at £14.90 a month. All N26 cards can also be used with Apple Pay.
Curve isn't a traditional credit card provider, instead offering a single card that can be linked to your existing credit and debit cards. It's particularly handy for businesses, allowing them to deploy Curve to their staff while linking back to a single corporate account.
Curve is great for traveling, too. It eliminates the often hidden bank fees associated with using your card abroad and is accepted in any country where Mastercard can be used. Take a single card on your travels instead of multiple, and still have the ability to withdraw cash from local ATMs and pay in the local currency.
The app for Curve is well designed and intuitive to use, and one of its most impressive features is Time Travel. If you discover that you paid for something with Curve using the wrong linked card, you can simply switch it to a different one. So long as the transaction was within two weeks, you're golden.
Curve also offers its own cashback rewards scheme, not unlike Apple Card. Paying at supported retailers with your Curve will generate cashback, which you can then use through your Curve card to pay for things in the real world.
Curve also has a very well designed app that provides real-time transaction notifications and insights into your spending, helping you to budget properly. You're always in complete control, and if you lose the card you simply open the app and freeze it. Curve also offers £100,000 customer protection, for added peace of mind against fraudulent use of your card.
No need to feel left out
None of these are Apple Card, but in some regards each of them has an advantage over it. Whether you're attracted to the idea of regular cashback or want something more substantial that also controls your daily banking, there's a really good choice out there.
N26 Metal has that premium aspect, albeit at a price, but all of these are great for travelers and anyone who wants to have a truly mobile banking experience.
One major difference, however, is that none of these is a credit card like the Apple Card. As such, the money you're spending is already your money, with the exception of Curve if you have an existing credit card linked to it. There is no APR or monthly repayments to consider with these, which for many is more important than anything the Apple Card can offer.
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