The Apple Credit Card
Apple Card Review for Military
Being the glutton for credit card gimmicks that I am, I went ahead and got the brand new Apple Credit Card for no other reason than to be an early adopter and add a slick slab of titanium to my black book. This is the tale of my adventure into Apple’s attempt to flip the credit card world on its head.
The Apple credit card concept is an attempt to remove the physical card aspect altogether — and turn the iPhone into your credit granting device under the guise of better security, more simplicity, and a consumer-focused vision. At first glance, it seems like they’ve done exactly that. As with all Apple products, they are rolling out tech ahead of its time and forcing the user and supporting technology sectors to adapt to their model (ie. removing the headphone jack on iPhones). However, Apple couldn’t just not give you a physical card and expect you to be a consumer in a world not quite adapted to Apple Pay at every point of sale system, so they compromised and did a physical card in a way only Apple could. More on that later.
Since your iPhone is now your credit card, it securely keeps your card number in a chip, similar to how it keeps your biometric data on a chip, supposedly separate from the rest of the iPhone programming with microchip and coding magic. Their website on the Apple card even calls it “The Secure Element.” So secure. The number isn’t even on the physical card they give you, so only Skynet will be able to see it. This makes sense since your face or fingerprint is required to authorize transactions, just like Apple Pay. Your transaction history is even generated in the wallet app, meaning Apple isn’t privy to your spending habits. Goldman Sachs is, but they promise not to use it for advertising and the like. They also took and paid back $10B in the 2008 financial debacle so, take that how you will.
As for Goldman Sachs, Apple claims they went with them as the card backer since they’ve never had a consumer card before and they were open to doing things differently. Maybe, but that also means they have no idea what they are doing with credit cards and I guess we’ll see how this all plays out. I have faith in Apple, but I’m skeptical of Goldman Sachs (also bitter for them making their Goldman Sachs branded Amex Platinum Card impossible to obtain).
As for simplicity, yeah, I think the Apple Credit Card wins there too. The wallet app will track all the purchases you make, when, and even where you make them. It seems to have a learning model of transaction data that puts your spending into easy to understand terms and not just the terminal name the business you used registered with the card network. And because it lives on your iPhone, every time it’s used you get a notification. That means that when Skynet uses your card number that no one else can see, you can immediately report that nonsense and Apple or Goldman or whoever makes it go away.
Supposedly the digital image of the card in your wallet app even changes color based on the categories of spending you most frequently use — and of course provides all the charts you’d ever want that show you how much you need to stop spending on takeout.
Oh, and your payment due date is the last day of the month. What a novel concept that no other bank in history has ever contemplated implementation of. So easy to remember.
Consumer-focused? Yup, for sure wins there too. The app lets you text issues. Any issues. Text. I DON’T HAVE TO CALL PEOPLE. Gosh, what a concept. No hold music, no foreign accents I can’t understand, no elevation to supervisors because I swear I know more about the credit product than the person I’m talking to. None of that. Text. Gosh, why hasn’t this happened sooner?
Also, no fees. Period. Not a single fee. I don’t even have to elaborate this. If you have a fee question the answer is no fees. Find me another no annual fee card without foreign transaction fees. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Nevermind, I won’t.
Interest! That’s how the card companies get you. Apple sends you payment reminders, has interest calculating graphs, and claims the lowest interest rates in the industry. Seems legit, and they actually do a fair amount to motivate you to avoid paying interest. Of course, you don’t need any help because the number one rule of credit card churning is never paying interest, right?
Apple Credit Card Rewards
Now, let’s talk Apple Credit Card rewards since that’s why we’re here. Apple made them mighty straightforward. There is 1 unchanging category, no points or miles, just cash back the day you transact. Bam, cashback direct to Apple Cash every day in digital, easy to use if you’re a millennial and under, format.
Unfortunately, that’s where rewards, arguably the most important factor in this game, end their pro column and enter into the con column. The reward structure is 3% at Apple, 2% on Apple Wallet transactions, and 1% on the physical card. Not bad for Apple product discounts — I’ll likely use this for all my Apple purchasing that happens once every 6-8 years for new computers, except that I can’t find if there is any purchase protection or extended warranty that every other card in my black book has, so, maybe not. 2% on all Apple Wallet purchases seems legit, and it kind of is, but not for the military churner. Finding a blanket 2% cashback card without an annual fee is next to impossible. The Citi Double Cash does it. That’s about it. If you have to pay annual fees (ie. you aren’t active duty) this is a solid option. However, we don’t, so the US Bank Altitude Reserve card that has a $400 annual fee that we don’t pay that offers 3% cashback on ANY mobile wallet purchase is instantly the winner here. The 1% on the physical card, that you’ll likely use a lot since not every merchant everywhere has the ability to take an iPhone tap as payment, is the bare minimum across the board. Like I said above, I got this card just to write a blog article and have a slab of titanium, nothing more.
Apple Card Hand Feel
Is the Apple Credit Card really a slab of titanium? Yup, pretty awesome in the hand feel. It looks, feels, and if it could breathe it would breathe Apple. It is easily the sleekest card on the market. All white, silver mag strip, laser etched with an Apple logo, my name, the issuing bank, Goldman Sachs, and the network, Mastercard. That’s it. No signature, no unstandardized cvv code, no extraneous information. It’s legit titanium, no plastic sandwich, so it’s very light, surprisingly thick, very rigid, and gosh does it make the best metallic sound when dropped on a table, second to the now obsolete Ritz Carlton card. I’m a freaking fan. Credit card geeks unite.
Apple Card Application
So how did I get here? Not going to lie, the easiest credit card I’ve ever applied for, hands down. I opened up the Apple Wallet app, deleted a saved card because I maxed out the 12 card max, hit add card, and followed the Apple card instructions. They already had most of my app info because it’s Apple.
Then, the most profound thing happened. Apple soft pulled my Transunion report (fantastic because NO ONE uses Transunion and thus I had the least hard pulls on that report), gave me an approval decision based on the soft pull, told me my credit limit and interest rate BEFORE HARD PULLING MY REPORT, and let me decide if I wanted to accept their offer BEFORE HARD PULLING MY REPORT. HOW IS THIS NOT INDUSTRY STANDARD?!?!?!!? I’ve got to admit, I’m being honest with my review here but I have huge respect for Apple for this move. That is some consumer-focused next level action.
So anyway, I took my $15k limit at a surprisingly low 12.99% (not that I care) rate and accepted. They then hard pulled Transunion and I had the physical card in 3 days. One of those days being a Sunday. Card activation was legit just holding my iPhone close to the card envelope, so there must be some sort of RFID or something in the packing material. I want to keep it so I won’t be ripping it apart to confirm. On that note, keep your packaging material for card confirmation.
How is the blog-o-sphere taking this? Surprisingly limitedly, I haven’t seen much either in favor or against, except for one little call to panic that isn’t really a big deal but gets clicks so it’s spreading. Turns out, if you lose your iPhone, you don’t really have a way to pay your card balance. Trivial issue at best, you’ll likely get a replacement before the interest period hits or you can just call Apple to pay it. Ignore the hype with this one. I’ve also seen entire articles on how Goldman Sachs is approving sub-prime borrowers and it’s anarchy. It’s not, credit cards aren’t that hard to get from anywhere, Goldman Sachs just has a reputation for only dealing with the top 1%.
All in all, this will be an excellent no annual fee 2% cashback card once Apple Wallet is more widely accepted. It’s for sure an Apple way to go about credit cards. But the part I like best is the part they want to make obsolete, the physical titanium card, and the rewards fall short for active duty that get the US Bank Altitude Reserve.
That’s a review.