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Worthy of the hype? Apple Card review

May 23, 2020
9 min read
Apple card
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Apple Card Overview

The Apple Card launched in 2019 as Apple's first foray into the rewards credit card space. While it was met with enthusiasm from Apple fans, it doesn't quite live up to expectations. With limited perks and no sign-up bonus, there are certainly better rewards cards out there. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐

*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

When Apple first announced its rewards credit card in August 2019, a lot of people were excited about the prospect. Apple has dominated the tech space for a long time with consumer favorites including the iPhone, iPad (and more recently the iPad Pro), Apple Watch, AirPods and more. This product was an exciting new chapter for Apple as the company began shifting focus to offering consumer services in addition to its physical products.

But after the card officially launched, the initial consensus among credit card rewards enthusiasts was that the card didn’t meet expectations.

Almost a year later, the card has stayed mostly under the radar in the credit card rewards space, mainly because of the strong competition in this segment. And while I am one of those mostly unimpressed with the card as a whole, it does have some redeeming qualities and potential to be a solid card offer with a few meaningful changes.

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Who is this card for?

First and foremost, the card is for Apple users. You can apply for the card via the Wallet app on an iPhone in minutes, and it seamlessly integrates with Apple Pay. While there is a physical card, one of the strongest features of the Apple Card is how easy it is to use through your Apple Wallet. If you prefer Google or Samsung phones over Apple products, you’ll have little use for the Apple Card.

Digging into the actual card offer, it’s definitely a card geared toward beginners. You’re earning Daily Cash — Apple’s own form of cash back — rather than points or miles, and the card’s tools and benefits are focused on helping users understand their spending habits.

The card is best suited for those who live in urban areas. The rewards structure mostly includes specific merchants rather than broader categories, and those merchants are more commonly found in cities. Another consideration is that a large rewards opportunity with the card centers around using Apple Pay, and merchants that accept Apple Pay are much more common in urban areas than rural towns.

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Related reading: Your complete guide to Apple Pay

(Photo by Wyatt Smith / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

No sign-up bonus

One of the most disappointing things about the card is the lack of a sign-up bonus. Very few rewards cards offer no sign-up bonus.

The card doesn’t charge an annual fee, and Apple takes an anti-fee stance in general with no late fees or over-the-limit fees. But if you have a long history of paying bills on time and in full each month, those wouldn’t really impact you either way. In my mind, it doesn’t make up for not offering a sign-up bonus of any kind.

Main perks and benefits

In line with most no-annual-fee cash back cards, the Apple Card doesn’t come with lounge access, annual statement credits or other premium benefits. Rather, this card focuses on helping consumers understand their credit habits and map out payments to avoid interest.

Apple uses location services to map out your card purchases and assigns each expense a color and a category. For beginners who are just jumping into the world of credit cards and managing personal spending habits, this can be helpful in visualizing where money is spent each month.

(Images courtesy of Apple)
(Images courtesy of Apple)

It’s a nifty concept, though not quantifiably valuable. Some cardholders will be able to use it to help identify spending habits and budgeting shortfalls, but others won’t find much use in the spending breakdown.

Apple does offer text support 24/7 for card support, which I’ll admit is rather nice. Considering how frustrating it can be to try and contact customer support via phone or even secure message for many issuers, this is a nice perk.

Finally, the card does offer a unique benefit for anyone who makes it a habit to get the newest iPhone every time a new version launches. Apple Card Monthly Installments allows you to finance a new iPhone from Apple with interest-free payments. You can track your payments schedule right from the Wallet app, and it doesn’t require an additional application if you are a cardholder.

Earning

(Photo by Getty Images)
AirPods are among the products that earn 3% cash back when using the Apple Card. (Photo by Getty Images)

You’ll earn 3% Daily Cash on Apple purchases (including tech products, App Store purchases and other services such as Apple Music and Apple TV+) and a smattering of specific merchant purchases:

  • Uber
  • Uber Eats
  • T-Mobile
  • Duane Reade
  • Walgreens
  • Nike

When you use the card via Apple Pay, you’ll get 2% Daily Cash and 1% on all other purchases.

If you almost always use Apple Pay, this card could essentially act like a flat-rate cash-back card. For no annual fee, 2% isn’t a bad return across all spending. However, if you don’t shop at a ton of places where Apple Pay is accepted and don’t shop with the specific merchants that earn 3%, this card’s earning structure is going to be pretty much worthless to you.

apple card
(Photo courtesy of Apple)

Redeeming

The Apple Card earns Daily Cash, which is available to use through the Wallet app on purchases, as a statement credit to pay off your bill or through Messages to pay back friends and family. Your Daily Cash balance is easy to see in the Wallet app.

I’ll admit, the ability to use your Daily Cash to pay back friends (similar to using a service such as Venmo) is a nice perk.

Other cards to consider

Competition is fierce in the rewards credit cards space. There are a number of no-annual-fee credit cards available from a large range of issuers and for just about every audience out there.

If you’re looking for a great everyday spending credit card, the Citi® Double Cash Card is a great no-annual-fee option. You’ll earn up to 2% back on every purchase (1% when you buy and 1% when you pay your bill). The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is another everyday spending option for those who are willing to pay a small annual fee in exchange for earning transferable rewards miles that can be used at a fixed value on eligible purchases or transferred to travel partners for potentially even more value.

(Photo by Orli Friedman / The Points Guy)
There are many beginner options that are better for everyday spending than the Apple Card. (Photo by Orli Friedman/The Points Guy)

Beginners may also enjoy no-annual-fee cards that offer broader bonus categories in common spending areas. The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card earns fixed-value points that work much like cash back — 3x on travel, dining, gas stations and select streaming services. (The Wells Fargo Propel card is no longer available for new applicants. The information for this card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.)

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card offers 3% cash back on a category of your choice, plus 2% back on grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter; then 1%).

While the Apple Card certainly has some potential, it just doesn’t quite hold up against the earning potential of these cards.

Related reading: The best starter travel credit cards of 2020

Bottom line

Apple had an opportunity to create an innovative rewards structure and integrate unique experiences with its tech, but its current offering falls a bit flat. It’s just not broad enough to be rewarding for a large audience. Dining, groceries and online shopping are all common spending categories (especially right now), none of which are rewarded broadly with this card. Travel and entertainment are also presumably common spending categories among the card’s target audience, and aside from Apple-specific entertainment, you won’t earn on those expenses, either.

If you are a hard-core Apple user, this no-annual-fee credit card may be nice to add to your wallet if for nothing other than the finance program for new iPhones and the potential cash-back earning on Apple purchases. However, there are certainly other card options out there if you’re looking for a rewarding everyday spending credit card.

Featured image by WYATT SMITH/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 5X points
5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 150,000 points120,000 points
The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Good, Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Apply for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.