Apple Card Review: The Credit Card of the Future Is No Card At All
| le 15 August 2019
Apple made a credit card you aren’t really supposed to use, because your financial future—according to Apple—is all about Apple Pay
The Apple Card makes quite an impression. The white titanium slab contains no numbers or expiration date—only your name, an Apple logo and the chip. Whip it out of your wallet and it clatters onto a table with a delightful “tink” sound. James Bond might be a Black Card guy, but Q would definitely use an Apple Card.
The card isn’t the point, though. The Apple Card is mostly a digital being, a combination of expense-tracker and bill-payer in an app on your phone. It’s also something of an ad for Apple Pay, the company’s tech for paying with iPhone, your Apple Watch or your Apple ID.
Apple has long pestered users to adopt Apple Pay, but now it offers a financial incentive: If you have the Apple Card, you get 2% back on purchases you make using Apple Pay—3% when you use the card to buy apps, movies and devices from Apple. The rewards appear daily in a digital Apple Cash card, which you can use with Apple Pay or to pay down the credit card’s balance.
However, if you go around swiping the Apple Card like a regular credit card, you only get 1%.
For reward-point junkies, the Apple Card probably isn’t enticing, even without an annual fee. For first-time card owners, though, or people who don’t have time or energy to devote to maximizing the value of rewards points, Apple’s offering could be a simple and straightforward way to buy stuff, track your spending and pay your bill on time.
Just make sure you keep that card in your wallet whenever possible.
(Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, has a commercial agreement to supply news through Apple News.)
Did you know there’s an app on your phone called “Wallet?” If not, don’t worry—it’s mostly for boarding passes, concert tickets and other things you’re better off storing elsewhere. Now, though, Wallet has a purpose: It’s the true home for Apple Card.
You apply for the Card in the Wallet app, which guides you through a set of simple steps. Tap the plus sign in the upper right corner, choose the Apple Card, enter some personal and income data and you’re off.
Goldman Sachs, Apple’s bank partner for the Card, reviews your application, does a TransUnion credit check, and accepts or declines. It works fast: In the time it takes to sign up for an app, I’d been approved for a new credit card. If you request a physical card, it takes a week or so to arrive, but as soon as you’re approved, you can start using the digital version on your phone.
Buying stuff with the Apple Card is… just like buying with any other credit card. You can swipe the card, type in your card number (which isn’t on the card, but instead is hidden three taps deep in a settings menu) or tap with your phone or watch; merchants process it like a standard Mastercard.
The most surprising thing about my testing was discovering how many places accept the tap-to-pay Apple Pay features. Apple says 65% of all U.S. retail locations now support it. Also surprising: how awkward it can sometimes be to wiggle my phone around on the reader before it works.
The most interesting stuff about the Apple Card happens after you buy something. First, the purchase shows up in the Wallet app, showing how much you spent and where. This is cooler than it sounds. Most credit cards give you gobbledygook that makes it impossible to recall your purchases; Apple tells you it was the Walgreens on Front Street, and here’s the phone number in case something’s wrong.
The Apple Card almost turns the Wallet app into a great budgeting tool. Almost. It categorizes your expenses by day, type and merchant, so you can see where your money is going. But since Apple doesn’t integrate the card with other credit cards in your Apple Pay account, you can’t see all your spending in one place. Nor can you export your Apple Card transactions and manage your budget elsewhere—such as into a more powerful app like Mint or YNAB.
Paying your bill is easier with the Apple Card than most others. When you open the Wallet app and tap on your card, a box on the dashboard shows when your payment is due—which is always the last day of the month. (If you forget, Apple will send you push notifications to remind you.) Tap to pay, and a colorful circle prompts you to pay your entire bill. Lessen your payment by dragging around the circle—and watch the circle’s color become less friendly as you do so. It tells you exactly how much interest you’ll pay on whatever is left over. This kind of transparency is both rare and appreciated.
The Apple Card is marketed as more secure and private than most. Apple says it never collects your purchase history or personal data—all the transaction and spending data is generated locally on your phone. Goldman Sachs does collect and store that data, but it promises never to share or sell it. When you buy something with Apple Pay, all that’s sent out is a simple token saying you’re a real user, so merchants don’t get your info or card number.
If your credit card gets lost or your number gets stolen, you can get a new one with a couple of taps in the Wallet app.
I like a lot about the way the Apple Card works, and I hope other providers copy its simplicity and aesthetic. Nevertheless, without more features or perks, it isn’t the ideal card for me—and likely isn’t for most people.
My current credit card gets me free checked bags and airport-lounge access, plus I’m stashing points for a trip to Asia next year. Even for cash back, there are no-fee cards with better rewards. Since the Apple Card doesn’t support sharing cards or adding authorized users, it can’t be used for family budgeting. And since I often use Windows and Android devices, I’m missing out on many of the Apple Card’s best features.
Apple says it’s looking at ways to further help users manage their financial health. For now, my Apple Card will mostly get used for Apple purchases. But I’ll keep the card in my wallet, just in case I need to power-play all my friends by dropping titanium on the table. Hear that “tink” sound? That’s the sound of a big deal.