Apple wants a permanent place in your wallet and beginning this summer, you’ll be able to give it one. The company announced Monday that it’s launching Apple Card, a new credit card made for the iPhone. The card, which is both a digital card in the Wallet app and a physical MasterCard, is meant to be easier to use and understand than most conventional credit cards, according to Apple. And it boasts some intriguing benefits, like no fees and a daily rewards program. But, as with any new credit card, it’s important to read the fine print in order to understand if Apple Card makes the most sense for you.
A shiny, laser-etched titanium card with an Apple logo may feel like the ultimate status symbol, but Apple Card is really optimized for mobile payments. This means you can use it anywhere that takes Apple Pay, and there are some pretty big incentives to do so.
That’s because purchases made via Apple Pay — either in apps or at businesses’ NFC terminals — earn 2 percent back in “Daily Cash” rewards, while old-fashioned credit card swipes only earn you 1 percent. (Apple Pay purchases directly from Apple earn the most at 3 percent back.)
Keep this in mind when considering the card. If you’re already a big fan of Apple Pay, or you tend to shop at major retailers and other establishments that take NFC payments, then it likely won’t be a big deal to keep your actual card in your wallet and use your phone instead (in fact, it may make things even more convenient). But, if you spend a lot of money at restaurants or other local businesses that don’t take Apple Pay, you’ll have a more difficult time maximizing your rewards.
Speaking of the physical card, one of the more interesting aspects of the card itself is that it has no numbers on the front or back. While this helps give the physical card an Apple-worthy minimalist look, it’s useful in a practical sense as well.
Because your actual credit card number is generated in the Wallet app, this means you can change the number on your own, without needing to make any phone calls or have a whole new card issued. So, the next time you hear about a retailer with a big credit card breach, for example, you can simply go into the Wallet app and get a new number.
Another benefit: if you are using your Apple Card on a website or app that doesn’t accept Apple Pay on its own, entering your credit card number should be a bit easier than usual. If you’re using Safari on your phone or Mac, the browser will be able to automatically fill in your credit card credentials.
Apple Card comes with a rewards program called Daily Cash. It’s fairly straightforward and potentially enticing, depending on your spending habits. As discussed above, you get 3 percent back on purchases from Apple (when you use Apple Pay), 2 percent back on Apple Pay transactions, and 1 percent back when you pay with the physical card. Again, it’s worth repeating: you’re going to want to use Apple Pay as much as possible if you want to maximize your rewards.
But there’s another aspect Apple hopes will set it apart from other rewards programs: you get those rewards each day. While most credit cards require you to wait until the end of the month to cash in on awards programs, Apple Card makes Daily Cash available at the end of the day, when funds are deposited to an Apple Pay Cash card.
You can then put those funds towards your overall balance, or use it as cash for future purchases. You can also use it to send money to friends with Apple Pay Cash, much like you would use a Venmo balance.
This might come as a surprise, considering Apple has been hyping Family Sharing for most of its new services, but if you get the Apple Card, you will not be able to add a family member as an authorized user.
While not a major dealbreaker, it’s a drawback if you tend to share accounts with a spouse or other family members.
One of Apple’s big selling points of its new credit card is that it aims to improve financial health by making the information around payments and transactions easier to understand. When you look at your transaction history, the app will pull in information from Apple Maps to make merchants easier to identify. The app will also help you understand your spending habits with color-coded charts that will look familiar to anyone who has used a budgeting app like Mint (it also looks a bit like Screen Time except with financial data in place of apps.)
In terms of making payments, the Wallet app also uses charts to help you understand how much you’ll end up paying in interest if you don’t pay your full balance. It also lets you set up more frequent payments if you want to pay more often then once a month.
Apple Card also doesn’t charge fees for late payments because it’s eliminated the fees associated with many credit cards. There are no membership fees, foreign transaction fees, or late fees.
One of the most important details about any credit card — and one Apple didn’t say much about during its event — is the interest rate. The company said that it expects its rates to be “among the lowest” in the industry, but stopped short of sharing specifics onstage. If you read the fine print, though, Apple says it expects Apple Card interest rates to range from 13.24 percent to 24.24 percent.
That’s a fairly wide range, and your exact rate will vary based on your credit score and other factors. But while the high end of that range isn’t especially competitive, one expert who spoke with CNBC said it likely means the card will be available to those with less than stellar credit (Apple hasn’t shared specifics on what credit scores would be eligible for Apple Card). So, factor this into potential decisions. As with most cards, the better your credit, the more likely you are to get a favorable rate — and it’s always a good idea to regularly check how much you’re paying in interest if you don’t pay your balance in full.