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The much-hyped Apple Card is now open for application to all customers in the United States. Plus, Apple is expanding the card’s cashback offerings.
From its integration with the iPhone to its simple cashback rewards, this card was designed to appeal to Apple fans with its simplicity and high-tech features. You can either use the card in the Wallet app for Apple Pay or as a minimalist titanium card that has a chip, but no expiration date, card numbers or a CVV code.
Initial reaction to the card was mixed, so if you’re on the fence about what exactly the Apple Card has to offer compared to other credit cards, we’ll look at three close competitors — the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever and the Uber Visa Card — as alternatives.
Read our post on the new Apple Card announcement.
Where the Apple Card stands out
The card, like Apple itself, is all about simplicity. The annual fee is $0, and you won’t pay late fees or over-the-limit fees. The foreign transaction fee is None. You sign up for the card right on your iPhone. Once approved, you can start charging via the Apple iPhone’s Wallet app.
Earn 2% Daily Cash every time you use Apple Card with Apple Pay, 3% Daily Cash on all purchases made directly with Apple, including at Apple Stores, apple.com, the App Store, the iTunes Store and for Apple services, and using Apple Pay for Uber and Uber Eats. Apple announced in August 2019 that additional merchants would be added at the highest Daily Cash rate in the coming months. All purchases put on the physical, titanium Apple Card earn 1% Daily Cash.
The categories for Uber and UberEats are new, added when Apple made the card available for application to U.S. customers. Expanding the rewards beyond Apple-specific purchases adds value for customers who might be interested in the Apple Card, but who might not spend enough in the original categories to justify applying for the card.
There are no limits on the Daily Cash you can earn as long as you don’t spend more than your credit limit. That Daily Cash goes right back onto the Apple Card. You can view account information including card balance, the number of days until your bill is due and your spending activity on your iPhone.
Whenever you use the card, your charges are assigned to a spending category with specific colors, so you have a visual detailing where your money is going. Every time you make a purchase, you’ll also get an instant notification on your iPhone.
See a charge you don’t recognize? Tap it on a map, and you’ll see the retailer, the location address and how much was spent. If you still don’t recognize the charge, tap it or send a text via Messages to Apple and Apple Card will immediately start an investigation. You’re instantly notified of any unusual card activity.
The card comes with a built-in calculator that estimates your interest costs based on how much you pay on your balance every month. You’ll also get suggestions on how to pay off your balance faster and save on interest. And the card’s payment due date is always the last day of the month.
The Apple Card generates a unique card number created on an iPhone and is then stored safely in its Secure Element, a special security chip used by Apple Pay. Every purchase is authorized with Face ID or Touch ID and a one-time unique dynamic security code, which mirrors Apple’s ongoing commitment to online privacy and security.
Where the Apple Card falls short
You need excellent/good credit to apply for this card. There is no sign-up bonus for new cardholders. Apple and Goldman Sachs Bank USA are banking on Apple fans to flock to the card because they are so invested in the brand.
While the card has no fees, additional interest will accumulate on your balance for late or missed payments. There’s no intro purchase or balance transfer APR with this card; instead, you’ll pay a purchase APR of 12.74% to 23.74% Variable.
If you want to spend the Daily Cash earned on the card, you’ll need to have an Apple Cash account. Otherwise, you’ll only receive a statement credit. While Apple notes that while there’s “no limit” on Daily Cash back, you only receive it as long as there’s room on your card’s credit limit.
The Apple Card encourages cardmembers to use Apple Pay to receive higher Daily Cash back. But while Apple touts “millions of stores” that accept Apple Pay, a commenter on Reddit noted that using Apple Pay “sounds great until you realize how few [places] take Apple Pay, so that 2% can’t be really utilized to its fullest extent.”
It’s not necessary to have an iPhone in order to use the Apple Card, but you’ll get more from it if you do. For example, If you don’t have access to Apple Pay, you’ll miss out on the higher Daily Cash earned on those purchases. You’ll still earn the highest cash back on Apple-related purchases if you use the physical card, but you’ll be stuck earning the lowest rate for everything else.
Other cards offer higher points in the top spending categories of travel, dining, gas and groceries. Plus, the Apple Card doesn’t come with any purchase protection perks.
Check out these cards before applying
If you’re not an Apple fan, want higher rewards on non-Apple spending or are interested in a simple, no-fee card, other options are worthy competitors.
Uber Visa Card
This $0 annual fee card is similar to the Apple Card in that it offers higher rewards in select spending categories. It’s the only one in this review to offer a sign-up bonus — Earn $100 in Uber Cash after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. The cashback bonus is applied to your card as soon as you complete the spending required.
Cardmembers earn 5% back in Uber Cash on Uber rides, Uber Eats, and JUMP, 3% in Uber Cash on restaurants, bars, hotels, and airfare, and 1% back in Uber Cash on all other purchases. This is better than what’s offered by the Apple Card in some of the more popular spending categories — though the Apple Card’s addition of UberEats as a 3% rewards category makes it more competitive than the card was when first announced.
Dining on the Uber Visa Card covers restaurants, bars and UberEats, hotels and airfare include home-sharing and vacation rentals and online purchases include Uber rides, online shopping and music streaming services, including Apple Music.
Rewards can be redeemed for Uber Cash, cash back or gift cards. But you have to add the card to your Uber account to take advantage of this feature. As long as the account is active and in good standing, your points never expire, although cash back redemption is capped at $500 a day.
Media lovers who spend at least $5,000 a year on the card get up to a $50 credit to cover the cost of online digital music, video or shopping subscription services. Get $600 worth of protection for mobile phones in case of damage or theft when you pay the bill with your card. You also have access to invitations to exclusive events and offers in select U.S. cities like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay.
0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
- Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
- To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
- Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.49% – 25.49%, based on your creditworthiness.
- Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
- The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.49% – 25.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
See additional details for Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
If you prefer a flat-rate cashback card that is more generous than the Apple Card, this $0 annual fee card is a good option.
There isn’t a sign-up bonus, but the reward on this card is simple: Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. There are no caps on the total amount of 2% cash back you earn when both spending and making payments with the card as long as you make your minimum payments. The cash you earn can be redeemed for checks or statement credits. Don’t take this card out of the country because it comes with a 3% foreign transaction fee.
While the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer doesn’t have a purchase intro rate, it does have an intro 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers (after, 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable) APR). The card’s regular purchase rate is 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable) APR.
Make your payments on time every month. While you do get a pass on your first late fee, after that, you’ll face a penalty APR of up to 29.99%, based on your creditworthiness, if your payment is late or returned. And that higher APR could be applied indefinitely.
The card comes with Citi® Concierge and Citi® Private Pass®, which gives cardholders special access to pre-sale tickets and VIP packages to concerts, sporting events, dining experiences, plus free movie screenings and more. You can also use the card to check out with Apple Pay. The card isn’t flashy, but it gets the job done.
Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
0% for 12 months on Purchases
0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers
16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
- No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee... Ever
- 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months from date of first transfer. All transfers must be completed in first 4 months. After that, the variable APR will be 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
- 0% Intro APR on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening. After that, the variable APR will be 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
- If you transfer a balance with this offer, after your 0% Intro purchase APR expires, both new purchases and unpaid purchase balances will automatically accrue interest until all balances, including your transferred balances, are paid in full
- The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
- Stay protected with Citi® Quick Lock and $0 liability on unauthorized charges
See additional details for Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
The attraction of this $0 annual fee card is in its name: simplicity. Like the Apple Card, this card has no late fees and no penalty rate. And it also doesn’t have a sign-up bonus, nor can you earn rewards.
This card’s main attraction is its generous intro 0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers (after, 16.24% - 26.24% (Variable) APR). That’s one of the longest intro periods to transfer a balance from a higher APR card and pay it off without interest. But you will pay 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum. There’s also an intro purchase APR of 0% for 12 months on Purchases (after, 16.24% - 26.24% (Variable) APR).
Like the Apple Card, this card has no perks, although you can choose your payment date and it’s also an Apple Pay partner.
|Apple Card||Uber Visa Card||Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer||Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever|
|Regular purchase APR||12.74% to 23.74% Variable||17.24%, 23.24% or 27.99% variable||15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)||16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)|
|Rewards||2% Daily Cash every time you use Apple Card with Apple Pay, 3% Daily Cash on all purchases made directly with Apple, including at Apple Stores, apple.com, the App Store, the iTunes Store and for Apple services, and using Apple Pay for Uber and Uber Eats||5% back in Uber Cash on Uber rides, Uber Eats, and JUMP, 3% in Uber Cash on restaurants, bars, hotels, and airfare, and 1% back in Uber Cash on all other purchases||Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay.||None|
|Sign-up bonus||N/A||Earn $100 in Uber Cash after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening.||No bonus||None.|
|Foreign transaction fee||None||None||3%||3%|
The bottom line
The Apple Card opened to public application (within the U.S.) in August 2019, so only time will tell on how it will be received. Apple fans are sure to love its integration into the iPhone and how simple it is to earn and spend Daily Cash. And the titanium card, which fits the sleek Apple aesthetic, is sure to be a coveted design.
But if you’re not an Apple user, you’ll miss out on the most important benefits — higher Daily Cash when using Apple Pay via the Wallet app, the spending and interest trackers, and the iPhone integration. There are other cards on the market that offer higher rewards — and a sign-up bonus — in popular spending categories including travel, dining, gas and groceries. It remains to be seen if the Apple Card will expand to include more merchants in these categories.
Although not as flashy as the Apple Card, the no-fee Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever and the Uber Visa Card have their own pros and cons.
The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer offers simple rewards for earning and paying on the card, redemption for cash or a statement and a generous intro balance transfer APR. And it comes with a few purchase perks. But pay your card on time to avoid a higher penalty APR.
The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever has one of the longest intro balance transfer APRs on the market, although you won’t receive a sign-up bonus or rewards. The Uber Visa Card comes closest to the Daily Cash offered by the Apple Card, but in more popular spending categories.
Which card you choose is based on what’s most important to you. If you have an iPhone, spend regularly on Apple products, like receiving Daily Cash, love the spending tracking and tech features, use Apple Pay and don’t mind receiving less-than-average cash back, then the Apple Card is worth considering.