There’s a new credit card in town. No, it’s not from American Express or Chase. It’s actually from Apple, the same company behind the iPhone. Back in March, the company unveiled its new credit card (simply dubbed “Apple Card”) as an extension of its services business, and today, that very card is launching.
Well, kind of. You see, back in March, Apple began taking names and email address so they could alert early adopters of when the Apple Card was available. It’s within that group of people who gave their email address to Apple who will have access to the card this early on in its roll-out. More specifically, only a set few of those users will be asked if they’d like to sign up for the card. It’s all a part of what Apple calls a “preview rollout.”
By the end of this month, anyone with an iPhone will be able to sign up for an Apple Card.
That specific distinction I just mentioned is important. “Anyone with an iPhone” can get one of these cards. That means if you don’t have one and have decided to, say, go the Android route when it comes to your smartphone of choice, you won’t be eligible.
That’s because Apple is introducing the Apple Card as another element of its infamous walled garden. The ever-expanding bountiful grounds of the company’s picturesque ecosystem will now include the credit card as another perk for remaining on one side of its barriers. It’s also possibly the most dangerous trap that Apple has set forth to lure you into its garden and keep you there forever.
Admittedly, the Apple Card does seem very attractive. For one, it’s the first credit card from Apple, so privacy plays a huge part in the company’s marketing for the product. Then there’s the easy way of signing up, allowing you to see whether you’ve been approved for a card in “under a minute,” according to the company. Plus, it looks like it’ll be easy to use since you’ll be interacting with what appears to be a pretty barebones UI. That’s okay though, because credit cards can be complicated in themselves.
That’s what Apple wants to avoid, and its policies surrounding how the card works play a large role in its ease of use. There are no late fees, no international fees, and no annual fees. You get three percent cash back on Apple transactions (via the App Store, iCloud, Apple stores, etc), two percent back on Apple Pay transactions, and one percent back on purchases made with your physical Apple Card. Goldman Saches is the bank behind the card and it controls the monetary elements Apple simply can’t manage themselves.
Set up is also easy. After you’re approved, the card is loaded into your Apple Wallet where you can track your spending history, view Apple Cash credit, make payments on your card, and more. You can also request a physical credit card made out of metal that will be delivered to your home free of charge. Once you receive the card, you can simply tap your phone to the card thanks to NFC and the card will be activated.
Even the privacy policies are simple. Apple gives you random credit card numbers that vary between your physical card, your digital card, and records from purchases you make. These numbers can change with any transaction if you want. Neither Apple nor Goldman Saches track your spending and won’t sell off your data to third parties. In addition, no sensitive information gets printed on your physical card – only your name does.
With all this simplicity in place, there won’t be very much to get excited about. Sure, you can finally do a portion of your banking through Apple and yes, the physical credit card they give you looks like you’re made of money, but unlike many other competing cards, you won’t get discounts on hotels or collect airline miles or even receive any third-party rewards. In other words, you’re gonna have to be complacent with what Apple gives you, and whether that’s enough to convince people that the Apple Card is right for them is up for debate, at least until it starts rolling out to more people.
Then there’s the fact that you need an iPhone in order to keep your Apple Card. Don’t get me wrong, many folks are used to iPhone-exclusive features (iMessage and FaceTime are two of the most well-known iPhone-only constraints), but this is a credit card we’re talking about. If you sign up for the card and plan to keep it for years down the road, that also means you’re gonna have to stick with the iPhone for years down the road, no matter how tempting the latest Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel seems.
Maybe Apple will expand the Apple Card’s availability. Maybe they’ll add more perks for signing up. Heck, maybe their cash-back rewards will get better. But we don’t know if anything of that is true, and it’s way too early to make any predictions. All we can do is sit, wait, and see what Apple’s next move is because, until Apple Card is widely used by the general public, there will be no definitive way to say whether the card is worth it or not.