Apple Card review: You’ll need an iPhone to maximize rewards

Man paying with his Apple wallet while getting food from a vendorImage: Man paying with his Apple wallet while getting food from a vendor
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Pros

  • Solid rewards rates
  • Seamless integration with Apple devices
  • Ability to track spending habits
  • No fees

Cons

  • Need an Apple device to access all features
  • Must use Apple Pay to earn the most cash back
  • Need to use the physical card when Apply Pay isn’t accepted

Is the Apple Card for you?

The Apple Card is a no-annual-fee credit card that has some flash but lacks overall substance — especially if you’re not a user of Apple products. But if you are, Apple makes it easy for people with an Apple ID and an iOS device (such as an iPhone or iPad) to apply for its new card.

Here’s what else you need to know about the Apple Card.

Integrated Apple experience

The Apple Card offers a smooth experience with Apple devices using your Apple ID.

You can apply for the card online or directly from the Apple Wallet app on an Apple device. If you’re approved, your Apple Card will automatically be loaded into your Wallet, so you can begin using it right away.

As long as the store you’re shopping at accepts mobile wallet payments or Apple Pay, you should be able to make purchases instantly from your phone or other Apple Wallet–enabled device.

It has solid rewards rates

If you’re looking for a strong rewards credit card, you might be underwhelmed with the Apple Card’s limitations on earning — especially when compared to some other cash back credit cards. But if you’re looking for a straightforward cash back card and Apple’s rewards categories align well with your spending habits, you might find them useful.

Here’s how the Apple Card’s rewards, which Apple calls Daily Cash, break down.

  • 3% Daily Cash on Apple purchases and purchases with select merchants and partners — including Ace, T-Mobile, Nike, Uber, Uber Eats, Panera Bread, Walgreens, Exxon and Mobile — made using your Apple Wallet
  • 2% Daily Cash on purchases you make through the Apple Wallet
  • 1% Daily Cash on all other purchases

And when it comes to redemptions, the cash back that you’ll earn with the Apple Card is instantly available to use directly from your Apple device. There are no waiting periods or minimum redemption amounts.

You can track your spending habits

The Apple Card helps you keep track of your spending patterns right from your iPhone.

You can see the type of purchases you’re making over the course of a week or month. You can also look at where you made purchases on the map.

This is a nice feature that can help you responsibly manage your finances. But it could be contrasted by Apple’s monthly installment plan with 0% interest, which might entice you to spend more on Apple products that you wouldn’t have otherwise purchased.

What else you need to know about the Apple Card

Whether you’re considering adding the Apple Card to your Apple Wallet or getting the titanium version for your actual wallet, here are a few more things to know about this card.

  • You may need a metal card — You can order a titanium card to use at places where Apple Pay isn’t accepted. But you’ll need to already have the digital version of the card on your Apple Wallet and use an iPhone or iPad in order to request a card.
  • No fees With this card, you won’t pay an annual fee, late fee, over-the-limit fee or foreign transaction fees.
  • Ability to apply with a co-applicant — If your credit isn’t strong enough, you may be able to apply with a co-owner. This is part of feature called Apple Card Family and lets you co-own the account with one member of your Family Sharing Group. Another option is to invite another Apple Card cardholder to combine accounts to co-own a single account.
  • Share the card with up to six people — With this card, up to six people can be on the same account. People you add to your account can get Daily Cash on their transactions and may be able to order their own metal card and opt to be reported as authorized users to start building credit history, as long as they meet certain age requirements. You can also set spending limits for anyone you’re sharing the card with.

Does the Apple Card hurt your credit?

Typically, when you apply for a credit card, the card’s issuer checks your credit, which leads to a hard inquiry showing up on your credit reports. This can have a small effect on your credit scores, but the impact varies from person to person.

It’s worth noting that with the Apple Card, you have the ability to prequalify when you apply and won’t get hit with a hard inquiry right off the bat. Instead, the issuer performs a soft inquiry. But if you accept the offer, Apple will check your credit at that point.

If for some reason you didn’t qualify for the card due to your credit history, you can always apply again when your financial situation improves.

Is the Apple Card really worth it?

The Apple Card might be worth it for loyal iPhone and Apple customers who want an easy way to earn rewards — especially on purchases made at Apple and select partners like Walgreens, Uber and Mobile. 

But keep in mind that there are plenty of store credit cards that offer more than the Apple Card’s 3% cash back rate when you use their store card to shop at that store. For example, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card offers Prime members 5% back on Amazon purchases.

Also, if you’re looking for a strong rewards credit card, you might be underwhelmed with this card’s limitations on earning — especially when compared to cash back credit cards that may have higher rewards rates.

The Apple card also caters to people who are comfortable using Apple’s digital wallet. So if you prefer paying with a physical credit card, or the stores you shop at most often don’t accept contactless payments, the Apple Card is probably not worth it for you.

If you’re a Samsung user or prefer another non-Apple brand, you likely aren’t interested in the Apple Card to begin with.

Not sure this is the card for you? Consider these alternatives.

The Apple Card isn’t right for everyone — especially if you’re not an Apple loyalist. Here are some other cards you might want to check out.


About the author: Tim Devaney is a personal finance writer and credit card expert at Credit Karma. He’s a longtime journalist who prides himself on being a good storyteller who can explain complex information in an easily digestible wa… Read more.