Apple Launches New iPhones, Apple Pay and Apple Watch

by on September 9, 2014 · 40 comments

in Apple, Credit Cards, Mobile, Travel Gear

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When it comes to travel gear, my phone is one of my first considerations. I’m on my phone a lot, even when traveling internationally, and with the amount of use I get out of it, I put a fair amount of thought into which models and features I choose.

I’ve been an iPhone user for years now, and I feel like between my iPhone, MacBook Air, iMac, iPad and my Apple TV, Apple has control over my life, so making a switch to a Samsung Galaxy would be a complete jolt to my system. Choosing a technology brand is like attaining airline elite status: once you’ve made your choice, it often pays to stick with it. In general, I like my iPhone even though the screen is a bit small and I’m still not really used to the on-screen typing (compared to the Blackberry I had back in my Wall Street days).

With that being said, I think today is an exciting day for Apple, and I can’t wait to try out the new iPhone models. I’m leaning toward the iPhone 6 Plus, since I’m a big guy and I’m not concerned that it won’t fit in my hands. In addition, today’s announcement should be exciting for travelers as well with all the new functionality included in the Apple Watch, which will allow you to check into your hotel room from your phone. Here’s a rundown on what Apple has in store:

Apple launched the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Apple launched the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
The iPhone 6 will start at $199 with a two-year contract and will come in gold, silver, and space gray. It has faster LTE service than the previous 5s and features the Health app, which will be rolled out in their new operating system iOS 8. The iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch display, and the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch display. Both iPhone 6 models will feature a new Retina HD display, and are the thinnest iPhones yet. Apple’s new iPhones will be available on September 19 and up for pre-order on September 12.

The battery on the iPhone 6 Plus will allow for up to 24 hours of talk time and up to 16 days on standby. Internet usage will be up to 12 hours on 3G, up to 12 hours on LTE, and up to 12 hours on Wi‑Fi – a great improvement over my current iPhone 5S, which is usually dead by the afternoon since I use it so much.

Apple Pay
Another feature that will be available with these new phone is Apple Pay, which will launch in the US next month. Apple Pay is a mobile payment system that lets you pay with your credit cards right from your iPhone. Starting out, Apple Pay will allow you to store your American Express, Mastercard, and Visa cards in the app.

Apple Pay will available on both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Apple Pay will be available on both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

You’ll be able to use Apple Pay at over 220,000 US merchant locations when it launches. In addition, Apple is partnering with many merchants including Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Walgreens, Duane Reade, Staples, Subway, McDonald’s, Whole Foods, and Panera Bread, all of which will be accepting Apple Pay. Other merchants joining by the end of the year include Disney, Seamless, Instacart, Sephora, Nordstrom, Chipotle, and

Pay with your phone with Apple Pay.

Pay with your phone using Apple Pay.

With Apple Pay, you’ll use the Touch ID technology that requires your fingerprint to pay from your iPhone. It also uses SecureElement, which will securely store your bank account information.

Apple Pay will bring mobile payments mainstream.

Apple Pay will bring mobile payments to the mainstream.

Other features of Apple Pay include one-touch checkout, no card number entry, no need to type addresses, and no card information shared with the merchant. That means cashiers will not see your name, your card number, or your security code. Each transaction is authorized with a one-time unique number that generates a dynamic security code, replacing the security code from the back of your card.

When Apply Pay launches, you’ll have the option to use your credit card on file from your iTunes account, or you can easily upload a new card by taking a picture of it. You’ll be able to use Apple Pay not only with merchants, but also for online purchases.

Apple Launches Apple Watch.

Apple Launches Apple Watch.

Apple Watch
Apple also announced their new product called Apple Watch, which will launch in 2015 at a starting price of $349. In order to use Apple Watch, you must have an iPhone, as the watch will complement the phone by providing fitness and health information while you workout and throughout the day. You’ll be able to send and receive messages, make phone calls and access your email.

There will be three different models: Apple Watch includes “stainless steel or space black stainless steel cases, sapphire crystal, and a range of stylish bands.” The Apple Watch Sport collection includes “anodized aluminum cases in silver or space gray, strengthened Ion-X glass, and colorful, durable bands.” Finally, the Watch Edition is ” 18-karat gold cases in yellow or rose, sapphire crystal, and exquisitely crafted bands and closures.”

My Take

I want to get the iPhone 6 from a size perspective, though I’m concerned that it will feel like carrying an iPad around, and the additional battery life from the iPhone 6 Plus is incredibly tempting. I don’t think I’m going to be getting an Apple Watch just yet, as I’m content with my iPhone and soon to be new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.

What are your thoughts on the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus along with all the new features. Are you excited to try Apple Pay? Has anyone switched from Apple to Samsung or vice versa. What was your experience?

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • iamright

    What does this have to do with points?

  • Steve

    I’m a huge apple fan but this a dumb post. You should have talked about the implications of apples do devices for travel like the electronic hotel key or the effect of the Apple Pay on points.

  • mwwalk

    A lot of people are acting like the Apple Pay isn’t a huge deal, which it is, IMHO. Apple is known to take something that exists and make it work better and get people excited about it. Google Wallet has existed with the functionality for a long time, but they made several mistakes. At first it only worked with Citi cards, then the NFC functionality only worked on Sprint phones. They’ve finally fixed those issues but I know it’s left a bad taste in a lot of Android users’ mouths. With Apple, expect it to be flawless from the get go and that will increase adoption and encourage more stores to allow paying with NFC. Plus, since merchants are no longer getting my card number, the huge hacking attacks won’t affect me and mean I have to get a new card and memorize a new number.

    Now to how it affects points. For me, this means I’ll just need to carry my driver’s license and a backup debit card instead of my wallet with 10-15 credit cards. It means I never have to pay with a non bonus card because I forgot the card I really wanted to use. And here’s the big deal: actually getting points for purchases with NFC!!!! Almost all of the cards with NFC right now aren’t the great points earning cards we prefer to use. And although you can now add any credit card to Google Wallet, the way that works is that google pays the merchant and then charges the card. So every purchase goes through as Google. That means NO category bonuses on things like food, office supply, supermarket, etc.

    For me, this is a huge advancement in terms of safety and connivence while still allowing me to earn the points I love. I’m hoping this adoption will also convince cars, hotels and subway systems to look at the technology more closely so we can eventually live in a wallet free world.

  • MA

    from a points perspective, what would be the best mall to preorder the phone through, thanks?

  • Beth Hedquist

    So excited for Apple Pay!

  • Tori

    People should be cautious about this from a points perspective. I used my Amex Blue Cash Preffered via Google Wallet at Whole Foods Market for a few months. I was wondering why I wasn’t getting my expected 6% cash back. The reason: purchases were coded as Internet Services rather than as Grocery Stores.

  • Juan

    Generally speaking i like your blog/column and I read it often. But, we don’t need your opinions on every aspect of life like what phone we need. This post was completely irrelevant. And, while I’m at it, you can ditch the cheaply shot videos of you giving advice. Please take this in the right way – don’t mess with a good thing. You seem itchy to expand or change…but, don’t. :)

  • Ian

    Not at all sure what this has to do with Points and or travelling, this seems more like paid promotional advertising. Anyhow I’ve been using my credit card via my smartphone for over a year now and like you points guy, I just can’t get use to on screen typing. Yes I still use a Blackberry, I use the Blackberry Q10 but I am eagerly awaiting the new BlackBerry Passport this month. Security, being able to type with a keyboard and having a good battery is what I need. I flew from Vegas to Toronto yesterday and when travelling I always laugh at how the iPhone people are always looking for a plug to charge their phone constantly. Concerning the IWatch, most of us travellers and points collector are in the 35+ age demographic and that little watch/toy won’t be used by that demographic, it’s a 20′s age group product. Finally I always love your travel tips and advice but this “apparent” paid promotion is a little to off centre from your target audience.

  • ian

    my thoughts exactly

  • Joe

    Why is it that comments are not chronological? Critical ones suddenly zoom to the bottom, and others stay at the top. Please ‘splain!

  • thehinterlands

    i can’t help but gush about this blog. i love it. i visit every day. but truthfully, i think this post is supremely demonstrative of what i struggle with here lately. the content is wavering and losing the brand power that is “the points guy.” some of the guest posts, city-related content and something like this post feels like fluff. and sure, i realize there are limitations to posting constantly… or how difficult it is to scale up something so idiosyncratic and personal. thing is though, i’d take quality over quantity any day.

  • Alan

    He’s using a comment manager called Disqus. I’ve used it on my own sites before. As far as I’m aware, there is no way to manually order comments in order to push negative comments down. On the other hand, he could probably delete negative comments completely yet chooses not to. I think you’re barking up the wrong tree, here.

  • Alan

    I think a lot of people missed an important aspect of the new watch – that it has its own NFC capabilities. In theory, it should allow payments through Apple Pay without having to get an iPhone 6. So for people with older iPhones that are not yet looking to upgrade, this might bridge the gap.

    As for target audience. I’m 35 and I would get one if I could afford it.

  • John Bamr

    for the people asking why this was posted – is it not obvious? This apple news is going to be the most searched news of the week. traffic = eyeballs = money. not that hard

  • Alan

    I’m new to this blog (and points in general), but I agree with your general sentiment. If it’s not related to earning or redeeming points, I’m not sure where it fits in with everything.

    That being said, I think Apple Pay could eventually make for an interesting topic of conversation that could fit well within the “points” conversation.

  • Alan

    Considering the 100 better places to find an Apple review, I highly doubt this. As a blog contributor, myself, I think the simpler truth is that it’s just plain hard to generate content if you’re a small operation – especially when you’re catering to such a specific niche.

    TLDR: “Slow points news day”

  • vnach001

    For the people who ask why this post is relevant to points- this apple pay is a huge it can reduce your wallet size. I don’t have to carry 10 credit card all the time. Let’s say if i go to Walmart I use spg card, restaurants I use sapphire and gas station I use freedom till sep 30th. Imagine all the merchants accepts apple pay! Just take ur phone and go anywhere. You Don’t need a wallet and you get most out of your cards.
    His blog is nothing but how to maximize the points.

  • Gorbal

    I don’t care much about iPhones, watches, etc., but he’s written about travel gear before, and phones are definitely a critical piece of tech for some travelers.

    You have to be pretty shortsighted not to see the relevance of Apple Pay to points and miles.

  • Johnny Change

    Can apple pay help manufactured spending? Like AMAZON payments?


    Yeah . Same thing with paypal , Amex don’t want middleman

  • Sal

    That’s because Google Wallet sucks. You won’t have this issue with Apple Pay because your card is still getting charged directly by the merchant.

  • brian

    iPay: While nice to have cards all in 1 spot, seeing as the Iphone is also the “most stolen phone”, (primarily b/c it can be resold so easily/quickly) it’d be worse than having a wallet stolen.

    Fingerprint tech was already proven to be garbage back when Samsung had it as an option with their phone. It’s a false sense of “security”. Locking a phone isn’t a secure as most think…plus many don’t lock them b/c they keep flipping it on/off all the time and don’t want to unlock every time.

    Brian: If you’re worried about phone size, try the Samsung S4 for sizing, that’s the reason apple went to the bigger size b/c they found ppl despised the small iphone screen and if you spend time in airports on phone .v. laptop/tablet, then you’ll want that bigger screen

    Finally, if I’m going to “sell” (in this case GIVE) all my personal information, purchase history, etc to apple, I believe they should at LEAST incent me to do so. Not this “free” crap for “convenience”.

    -2 cents

  • brian


    facial recog. security is also pretty bad…as of last year, giving too many false positives

  • Matt

    Let the tech blogs write about the iPhone, stick to your bread & butter

  • Jordan C.

    was looking into this yesterday…if you want it new, it seems the only options are Best Buy (1 bonus pt) or Apple (1 bonus pt), other merchants with higher bonus pts (such as Sears w/ 5 bonus pts) don’t seem to carry it new or recent models. Anyone find any better deals?

  • Taffygrrl

    Huh, a payment system in my phone that uses my thumbprint? There’s no way hackers could access that! (That was my sarcastic voice.) After the recent photo hacking event, I’m not going to trust Apple with my credit card.

  • Taffygrrl

    Brian, I could not agree with you more. I was once a die-hard Apple-all-the-way person, but I switched to the Galaxy S5 and I actually like it a lot more than the iPhone.

  • Jumus

    “I always laugh at how the iPhone people are always looking for a plug to charge their phone constantly.”

    And I always laugh at comments like that. People are always looking for to charge their I Phone because they actually ENJOY using it. It’s a pleasure you cannot get from a Samsung. Let me guess why I never see anyone charging a Windows phone, is it because they have such a good battery life… NO… its because there are probably on 100 people in the U.S that own one! (Ok that’s an exaggeration but you see my point)

  • J.

    I’ve seen a spike on posts, but a decline in quality information regarding points/miles. I would prefer if you stick to what you do so well and not extend yourself to writing about consumer products, restaurants or things to do in cities.

  • Sean

    Any chance of using iTunes gift cards to fund Apple pay? Could be a huge rush on Ink purchases.

  • Alexis

    I’m surprised, as points enthusiasts, no one here has yet mentioned ISIS on Android, which has been out for some time and is critical to the point collection strategy of many. Outside of its implications with Serve, your mentions, SPG, Freedom, and Sapphire have all been available in ISIS for at least over a year. The purchases pass through without a middle man and collect points normally.

    That such capability has existed for so long and so relatively few apparently use it / support it can be blamed on marketing, I guess. But now that the hype machine is behind it, we’ll really see how many people are devoted to adopting it, AND remain diligent when they figure out they’ll still have to carry their card-stuffed wallets for the months or years it takes for you to be assured that EVERY business you’re patronizing accepts this form of payment.

  • vnach0001

    Thank you for your valuable input. I guess I have a Serve account and isis app saying that my sim is not compatible I never tried to get a new sim and bothered to test it out.
    I will surely check isis now. Does it work in conjunction with serve?
    That I will be still able to load my $1000 per month?

  • RakSiam

    actually the real key is that they have an enormous collection of credit card info already from all of their itunes users.

  • Alexis

    Yes, having the ISIS type of Serve increases your monthly limit to $1500. In addition to CCs, it also houses loyalty programs, e.g. my UA MileagePlus, BA Executive Club, SW Rapid Rewards and the like are in there, and is designed to auto transmit that info while purchasing from that merchant, but until airline counters or kiosks actually start accepting NFC, it’s unclear whether that part of the tech will be supported.

    Re: your SIM, yes, it sounds like you maybe have one from an earlier phone model and it doesn’t have the secure element involved in the encryption process. I think a new one is free, even if the CSR makes you argue a little bit for it.

  • James

    Brian, clearly you haven’t read anything about this service beyond this article. Apple doesn’t see where you shop, how much you spent, or what you bought. I do completely understand your fear of account info theft (Target…cough) the new Apple payment system actually protects from this. Check it out…it’s actually pretty incredible tech and protection for your info.

  • brian

    Not saying it isn’t cool tech, but app developers AND apple have been less than forthright about issues w/ their software, the amount of tracking done in apps (for your security or “the data is anonymized” .i.e BigData) or issues with their phones. (wait, I can’t hold it like this and still talk on the phone? oh…sure that’s reasonable?!?!? ). I’ll wait for ‘proof in the pudding’. A lot of promise doesn’t mean they’ll deliver. While it is in their best interests to be secure, it’s also in their best interest to mine a virtual treasure trove of data.

    Whether they know the store you shop at b/c of the trx or by the GPS location they log when you make a trx, the data is obtainable very easily, whether you know it or not. I don’t need to read the assurances they give, b/c I know the technology and business drivers will always trump personal privacy in today’s society.. b/c the profits are too great to ignore.

  • brian

    …which ends in mid-October

  • Alan

    Assuming high buy-in from banks, this is pretty great.

  • Steven

    Do we know yet if Apple Payments will be coding purchases for category bonuses? The way security has been described so far it sounds like the unique payment code that comes from Apple might not be coded by merchant to the Credit issuer.

    As for you guys who are complaining about this article not being about points, the great thing is that you don’t have to read it. Don’t ruin this blog and forum for the rest of us.

  • NYer

    If you don’t like an article… don’t read it. Don’t see what is wrong with a post like this, especially since it WILL have an effect on how many cards you can carry easily in your pocket.

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