Do Apple Pay purchases earn the same points bonuses through my credit card?

Apple Pay is a convenient and secure way to pay for everyday purchases. You can use it at a variety of merchants as well as easily transfer funds between users. Additionally, it's safer to use than your physical credit card. By using unique transaction codes, Apple Pay doesn't store your card number on your device or on Apple servers. Similarly, your card numbers aren't shared with merchants. There's just one question: Will you still earn the same rewards and benefits from credit cards when using Apple Pay? The answer is generally yes.

On the Apple Pay FAQs, Apple explicitly says "Yes. When you pay using Apple Pay, you'll continue to get the rewards, benefits, and security that your credit, debit, or prepaid card provides." However, to understand the nuances, we must understand merchant codes. Every merchant has a categorization code that determines what type of business is run by the merchant. This code determines what rewards category your purchase activates. While this seems simple, each credit card processing company (Visa, MasterCard, etc) assigns its own codes to merchants, so assignments may differ between processing companies. Generally, the codes are consistent, but there have been some noted discrepancies. For example, Walmart may register as a grocery store or a discount store.

The bottom line is that when you make a purchase via Apple Pay at Merchant A, you will earn your rewards with Merchant A based on how your credit card has coded Merchant A. You can think of Apple Pay as simply the channel, so if your credit card says you earn X% back on a purchase at Merchant A, you'll earn X%. Just make sure you know what your card says about merchants.

How do you do that? Well, Visa makes it simple because it offers a directory of merchants alongside their categorization codes. While the other processors will have mostly the same coding, you can call your credit card company to ask or even ask the store as they have probably received the question before. Alternatively, consider making a test purchase.

Apple Pay and other digital wallets are likely to continue to proliferate, especially with the upcoming Apple Card. Chances are you'll try out a digital wallet soon, if you haven't already. Thus, understanding how your card categorizes merchants you shop at will be important when calculating your rewards benefits.

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James Wang