The new iPhone is coming: Which is the best credit card for Apple purchases?
Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest information.
If you're looking to buy the new iPhone, Apple Watch or even the sleek new MacBook Air, you're probably wondering what credit card to use for your Apple purchases. Should you use the Apple Card? The answer to your question may surprise you.
Let's look at your options for the best credit cards to use on Apple purchases and see where the Apple Card stands after all things are considered.
What is the best credit card for Apple purchases?
It’s hard to identify the single most rewarding credit card for making Apple purchases because there are so many places to buy Apple products. Thus, if you're buying from your cellphone provider, you should use the best credit card for mobile phone purchases. If you're buying from other retailers, check out our guide to the best credit card for each bonus category.
In this guide, let’s focus on purchases directly from Apple.
American Express® Business Gold Card
The American Express Business Gold Card offers 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on purchases made directly from select U.S. technology providers of computer hardware, software and cloud solutions (Apple counts). Note that the Business Gold Card offers 4 points per dollar on your top two spending categories each billing cycle, so your technology purchases would need to be a top category to qualify; otherwise, you'll earn 1 point per dollar. Earning 4 points per dollar also applies only to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these two categories each calendar year.
While 4 points per dollar may not sound like much more than 3% cash back with the Apple Card, it is. That's because each Membership Rewards point is worth 2 cents if maximized with transfer partners. Thus, you could earn an 8% return on spending here, rather than 3% cash back with the Apple Card.
U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
If you don't think you qualify for a small-business credit card, there are other strong options. U.S. Bank’s Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card is currently the most rewarding personal rewards credit card for Apple purchases on an ongoing basis. One of its bonus categories is 3 points per dollar on purchases made using mobile payments, and the Apple Store accepts mobile payments. TPG values these points at 1.5 cents each, and you can use them easily for travel booked directly with travel providers. This means you are getting 4.5 cents in travel value for every dollar spent at the Apple Store if making a mobile payment with your Altitude Reserve card. (We have also seen mobile payments as a 5% cash-back rotating bonus category on the Chase Freedom Flex in the past.)
The information for the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite 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.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card and Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Both the Venture X card and the traditional Venture Rewards card will earn 2 miles per dollar on everyday purchases, including Apple products. According to TPG's valuations, Capital One miles are worth 1.85 cents apiece, providing a 3.7% return on your purchases.
With the Venture X, you'll have many of the benefits covered below, including purchase protection, return protection and you may get extended warranty. The card also offers numerous travel-related perks and has an $395 annual fee.
The Venture Rewards card comes with a lower $95 annual fee and offers fewer frills than the Venture X but earns the same miles at the same rate on your Apple purchases. Plus, you may still get extended warranty protection when buying with this card.
Options without an annual fee
We previously mentioned the Chase Freedom Flex, which has seen mobile wallet and cellphone purchases as rotating categories for earning 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases during that quarter. You can also choose "cellphone providers" or "electronics store" as you 5% back category with the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card. With this option, you can earn 5% back on the first $2,000 of purchases in your chosen category each quarter, then 1% after that. There's no annual fee on the Cash+ Visa.
The Citi® Double Cash Card also has no annual fee. You'll earn 1 Citi ThankYou point per dollar on purchases and another point per dollar when paying your bill. You can cash out these points at 1 cent apiece or transfer them to a limited number of travel partners. If you have other credit cards from Citi, however, you may be able to combine these points and access the full range of Citi's transfer partners, unlocking increased value in your redemptions. TPG values these points at 1.8 cents apiece, meaning the 2 points you earn would provide a 3.6% return on spending.
Using a new credit card to earn a welcome bonus
Apple products aren't cheap. Thus, buying a new laptop, phone or watch from Apple could help you earn a lucrative sign-up bonus on a new credit card. In fact, a plethora of credit cards allow you to earn a bonus with $1,000 or less in spending. That's less than the cost of some of the latest iPhones, meaning the best credit card for your Apple purchase might be one you don't have yet. Consider using your new purchase to make progress toward a heap of points and miles that could lead to a free or very cheap vacation in the future.
Is the Apple Card the best credit card for Apple purchases?
The Apple Card has no annual fee and offers 3% cash back on Apple purchases and at select merchants, including Nike, T-Mobile, Ace Hardware, Uber and Uber Eats. Outside of these merchants, you can earn 2% back on payments with Apple Pay and 1% on other purchases. However, the other cards in this guide offer a higher return on Apple purchases.
The information for the Apple 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.
Related: Are mobile wallets safe?
For reference, cash-back credit cards without annual fees frequently have some earning categories in the 2%-5% cash-back range. The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card lets you choose your own 3% cash-back category each month (limited to your first $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter). The Chase Freedom Flex offers rotating categories in which cardholders can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of spending in each quarter's bonus categories.
Click here to read our full review of the Apple Card.
Stacking rewards when purchasing online
No matter which credit card you use for your purchase, if you're buying online there is an opportunity for earning even more rewards. Clicking through a shopping portal can provide extra cash back or even additional Membership Rewards points with Rakuten. But make sure to check your options to see if any portals are covering the newest iPhone or Apple Watch — often they exclude the latest models.
Purchase protections matter
These purchases are pricey, easily costing over $1,000 in many cases, and are exactly the types of purchases that I want protected by the built-in perks of my credit cards. My family has seen Apple products end up in the lake, stop working just after their included warranty period and damaged in a bike accident. Even if you purchase Apple’s coverage, AppleCare only goes so far for some of these situations.
A number of credit cards, including some without an annual fee, provide fairly blanket purchase protections on electronics purchases for 120 days. If that bike spill that smashed the Apple Watch happened in the first four months after the purchase date — and if you used the right card to make the purchase — your credit card could cover the cost of a replacement.
After the first 90-120 days, built-in card protections become more restrictive and no longer cover most types of accidents, theft, etc. However, many still offer an additional year of extended warranty on top of the manufacturer’s warranty for defects. My family has used that additional year of coverage provided by the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card when an iPhone developed a battery problem just after Apple’s one-year manufacturer's warranty period ended. Multiple American Express cards also offer extra shopping protections, including cellphone protection, extended warranty, return protection and purchase protection.
The Apple Card? You'll be on your own for the cost of damage, theft or repairs on products you purchase using this card.
We should also note that the credit card you use to pay your monthly cellphone bill can also provide protections if your iPhone is lost or damaged, regardless of how you originally bought the phone.
We aren’t saying you shouldn’t get the fancy-looking titanium Apple Card (unless that ruins your 5/24 standing). Getting an almost immediate 3% cash back on Apple purchases via a card with no annual fee is better than nothing and the spending analysis benefits can be good for those who are new to personal finance and credit cards.
But if you are looking for the absolute best card for Apple purchases, the Apple Card isn’t your answer. You can earn significantly more rewards on Apple purchases with other cards and — perhaps more importantly — get some protection against loss, damage, theft and old-fashioned breakdowns.