Apple Card vs the best credit cards, benefit rewards and APR comparison

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In a first for both Apple and Goldman Sachs, the two companies joined forces on a new type of credit card that doesn't really require a physical piece. The Apple Card was a long time in the rumor mill as a way for Apple to explore alternative usage for its $250+ billion cash pile better, and materialized when the Apple Pay chief took the stage at what was otherwise a media-centric event.

When it gets released in the summer, the Apple Card will actually be a virtual number in your Wallet app, while the accompanying piece of titanium cutout doesn't have any of the traditional card paraphernalia to worry about if it is lost or stolen, like account numerals, expiration date or CVV digits. Here's how it works:

  • From the get-go, the Card is associated with a unique device number stored in the Secure Element enclave on your iPhone; 
  • Your account number is virtual and stored in your phone's Wallet app, it will be auto-filled in apps and when you do web shopping in Safari;
  • Purchases are authorized with Face ID or Touch ID, while a unique code identifier is created for each transaction, or, as MasterCard's boss puts it: the future.

Apple's Card, however, has to live among a sea of reward and benefit credit cards that are vying for attention. It's Goldman Sachs's first foray into the wild seas of consumer financing, too, and perhaps this is why Apple introduced cashback and no-fee incentives together with the Card. How good are those compared to some of the current popular reward cards? Let's stack them up, bearing in mind that the average interest rate for 2018 according to the Federal Reserve has been 13.64%.

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So, is Apple Card the best rewards card?

Goldman Sachs, the issuer of the Apple Card, estimates it would sign up at least 21 million users with roughly $1,000 a month average spending, for about $882 million in total revenue or 1% of Apple's expected 2020 earnings. Even the Goldman Sachs analysts admit that Apple's Card is far from offering the most enticing rewards:

On the other hand, while not offering the highest cashback percentage, the Apple Card brings other perks with it:

  • Immediate registration and real-time Daily Cash rewards accruement
  • Accepted everywhere MasterCard is accepted
  • Apple doesn't care about targeted advertising, so it doesn't track what and where you purchase
  • Goldman Sachs won't comb Card user data for marketing purposes
  • The unique iPhone-as-a-credit card arrangement lets you tap on a transaction and see exactly in which coffee shop it's been made on Apple Maps
  • The Wallet app lets you track and categorize expenses, or choose tailored installment payments
  • Clear end-of-month due date that's not made to be missed

When you add the comparatively decent interest rate range, especially if you have a good credit history, the unique privacy and fraud-prevention advantages that come with dynamic numbers, and the lack of foreign transaction fees when you travel, the Apple Card becomes a good option to have in your payment arsenal. Plus, flexing it in Starbucks.

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