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The Apple Card is expected to come out this summer, offering 3% cash back on purchases directly from Apple, 2% on anything you buy using Apple Pay and 1% on anything purchased with the physical card. The earning is simple and there’s no annual fee. But there are also no transfer partners nor the ability to earn points or miles.
The titanium Apple credit card will enter a crowded marketplace of no annual fee cards, and greater competition generally leads to better offers for consumers. Below, we’ll compare the incoming Apple Card with three of the most highly regarded fee-free cards on the market today, with an aim to guide you to the card (or cards) that make the most sense for your lifestyle and spending habits.
|Card Name||Best For||Cash-Back Overview||Intro APR period||Foreign-Transaction Fees||Sign-Up Bonus|
|Apple Card||Apple purchases, simplicity||3% (purchases made directly with Apple)
2% (all Apple Pay purchases)
1% (everything else)
|N/A (13.24% to 24.24% variable APR from open)||None||N/A|
|Citi Double Cash Card||Everyday spending||2% (all purchases; 1% when you buy and 1% as you pay)||0% APR for 18-months on balance transfers made within the first four months of account opening (then 15.99% – 25.99% variable APR applies)||3%||N/A|
|Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card||Dining and entertainment||3% (dining and entertainment)
2% (grocery stores)
1% (everything else)
|0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (then a 16.24% to 26.24% variable APR applies)||None||$150 one-time bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening|
When it opens to applicants in the summer of 2019, the Apple Card will have several things going for it. The first is sheer style. While you’d expect a rigid, sleek card if you’re paying an annual fee, the Apple Card will be the first fee-free card to be constructed of titanium. You don’t earn additional cash back just because your card is a looker, but fans of unique cards such as the yellow The Platinum Card® from American Express and rose gold American Express® Gold Card will appreciate adding this to their collection.
Then there’s 3% cash back on purchases made directly with Apple. While we have covered ways to earn even more from Apple purchases, the Apple Card will no doubt be the simplest way to earn 3% back.
The Apple Card has the potential to earn 2% cash back on everything, but that’s only in a distant world where Apple Pay is accepted everywhere. We aren’t quite there yet, though Apple Pay is widely accepted in major metropolitan areas. In instances where a purchase would fall under a non-bonus category for even top-tier premium credit cards (typically earning 1%), the mere act of making that purchase via Apple Pay would net Apple Card users a full 2% back.
Finally, there’s the tight integration with Apple’s iPhone. While credit card apps have come a long way, nothing quite compares to the beauty and simplicity of Apple’s spend-tracking software. For devout Android users, this will not apply.
Is This Card For Me?
If you make frequent purchases from Apple, and/or you live in an environment where you can easily pay for most items with Apple Pay, you may want to take advantage of Apple Card’s large cash-back categories.
One of the simplest and most rewarding cash-back cards is the Citi® Double Cash Card. This card gives you two opportunities to earn cash back: 1% when you buy and then another 1% when you pay, for a total of 2% cash back. You only need to make the minimum payment each month to earn the second reward, but we strongly recommend always paying your balance in full.
The biggest drawbacks of the card are the lack of a sign-up bonus and a 3% foreign-transaction fee. Still, 2% cash back on every purchase with no limit on the amount of cash back you can earn is a pretty solid value proposition. Plus, the shopping protections on this card are excellent, especially for a card with no annual fee.
Is This Card For Me?
If you’re looking for a cash-back credit card with no annual fee and you don’t want to worry about category bonuses and figuring out the best credit card to use for each purchase, the Citi® Double Cash Card may very well be the right card for you. In particular, it’s great for those that don’t use their credit card internationally (since there’s a 3% foreign-transaction fee), value having shopping protections like a 24-month extended warranty benefit and don’t have a Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card that would boost the earning rate of the Chase Freedom Unlimited.
The SavorOne card is the no annual fee version of the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, which is a super attractive offer for people who spend a lot on dining and entertainment and like cash back. The standout feature of the SavorOne card is its 3% cash back on all dining and entertainment, paired with 2% cash back at grocery stores.
If you take a look at your spending habits and see that dining out, engaging in entertainment (think concerts, museums, etc.) and stocking up at the grocery store make up a big chunk, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another fee-free card that makes it this simple to earn this much. While we generally recommend cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card ($95 annual fee) for international purchases, the SavorOne also charges no foreign transaction fees — a rare find in a no annual fee card.
Is This Card For Me?
If you’re looking to keep things simple and don’t have the time to learn the ins and outs of extracting maximum value from transferable points and miles, the SavorOne is an excellent choice for those who spent a lot on dining, entertainment and groceries. That said, it works best in concert with other cards which maximize other purchases — things like gas stations and travel.
The Apple Card delivers strong cash-back potential in two distinct ways. If you’re the type who upgrades their iPhone and/or iPad annually, it may be worth holding this card just to earn 3% back on those big-ticket purchases. With no annual fee, the only notable downside to adding it to your collection is the impact to Chase’s 5/24 rule, which causes the bank to automatically reject you for any new Chase card if it detects that you’ve procured 5 new personal cards within the past 24 months. If you’ve already opened 3-4 new cards in the past 24 months, be careful before applying for another. We recommend maximizing that final slot and use it for a card with a robust welcome bonus.
When it comes to no annual fee cards, there’s no single card that maximizes all purchases. The upside is that you won’t pay any dues to have several fee-free cards in your wallet. Adding the Apple Card makes a lot of sense for city dwellers who can pay for practically anything using Apple Pay, as all of those purchases will earn 2% cash back. Even better, use it alongside specialty cards like the SavorOne, which maximizes cash back on dining and entertainment.
Apple Card is expected to open to US-based applicants in mid-2019, eventually becoming available internationally.
Featured image courtesy of Apple.
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