Pin It
Apple Card

Apple likes to think of itself as a re-imaginer.  The most recent paradigm changing product, the Apple Card, was introduced in August.  While there is a physical credit card, the Apple Card is mainly a virtual card, and while it can be used in traditional ways, it offers new ways to pay for things and manage your credit card account... if you have an iPhone with fingerprint or face recognition.  Like most people, I suppose, I have more credit cards than I really want to have, but curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to see what this newfangled credit card is all about.

To apply, open the Wallet app, and click on the plus sign (+) to add a card to your wallet.  Apple Card is a choice.  Tap that.  Click the Continue button.  Most of your information is pre-filled from your AppleID. A screen shows what your credit limit will be, APR and fees.  Click Accept Apple Card.  There is a slight delay while your application is considered by the issuing bank (Goldman Sachs) and (one hopes) you see that you have been approved.  You can immediately begin using your Apple Card, assuming it was approved, of course.

Now there are two cards in the Wallet app: your Apple Card and an Apple Cash card.  When you use your card to purchase from Apple you get 3% back on the cash card.  If you use Apple Pay you get 2%.  If you use it with any other store or service you get 1%.  The money just appears on your cash card after about a day's delay.  This is different from picking out credit card rewards, and I have to admit I am partial to getting 'free' Amazon gift cards that almost entirely pay for my reading habit.  But I suppose I could buy gift cards with my Apple Cash.  I'll have to use the card for a bit longer to see how that shakes out.

Within about a week you get a physical card, which is made of titanium and laser-etched with your name and the apple logo and nothing else on the front, and very little else on the back.  It is a chip card that you can use like any other credit card, but without worrying that your card number or that three digit code can be seen by anyone.  For online sales you can open the card in Wallet, and after using fingerprint or face recognition you can view your card number, expiration date and that three digit card.  When you get it you put the top of your phone near the bottom of the card, and presto! the card is activated.

Apple Pay in MapsIf you want to try out your new card right away, type "Apple Pay" in the search bar of the Apple Maps app, and it will show you c map of nearby businesses that accept Apple Pay.

Much has been made in the press about how elegant the titanium card is.  Well,  it is elegant, though I have to admit that most of its life is going to be spent in my (physical) wallet where no one can see it.  It is thicker than a regular credit card, but not too thick for card swipers and chip readers.  I haven't used the physical titanium card yet, but I have made five purchases using Apple Pay and online, plus through Walmart Pay.  I have read that it scratches easily, so the jury is out on how well it maintains its elegance.

Walmart Pay is a competitor to Apple Pay that makes paying for Walmart purchases quick and simple.  At the checkout counter you open the Walmart App on your phone and scan a QR code.  The transaction is instant, and charged to whatever credit card you have set up in Walmart Pay.  I thought it would be amusing to use my Apple Card for Walmart Pay and see what happened.  So on my Kitty Litter/Coke Zero run the other day I paid at the 'you scan' area, then clicked the button on the touch screen for Walmart Pay.  The screen displayed the QR code, I pointed my phone camera at it and before I could blink the sale was complete, with the virtual register printout in the Walmart App.  I checked Wallet, and the transaction was also listed on my Apple Card. So that worked!

I paid a service provider who uses the Square reader - she recently got a reader that accepts Apple Pay.  On my iPhone Xr I double clicked the side switch and placed the top of my phone near the reader.  After suitable beeps the sale was confirmed on my screen, and I was done.  The transaction immediately showed up in Wallet and a notification was sent to my phone confirming the sale. In the Wallet app I can see confirmation of the sale, see on a map where I paid (if Apple Pay was used) and can report an issue with the charge.  Support is also available using the app, which has buttons for text messaging, calling, and a link to the Website.

I used the card on a Web site by just typing in the numbers, and the transaction was denied for suspected fraud.  The Apple Card instantly told me what had happened and asked me to either confirm I was the one who made the purchase (and then try a second time) or tell Apple it wasn't me.  it also sent me an email saying I should confirm that it was or wasn't me, and assuring me that I won't be double charged when I run the transaction the second time.  I confirmed it really was me, and the second time I tried the sale went through just fine (and I was not double charged).

I have to admit that one of my regular credit cards seems a bit quick on the fraud trigger (although one time it actually was someone trying to use my card), and the phone call telling me my card has been deactivated is annoying.  Sure it's better to be safe than sorry.  But the delay in receiving the call (or not being available when they call) usually results in my next purchase being denied, which is confusing and embarrassing.

The Apple Card's instant response was a lot more satisfying, and was instantaneous.  No discovering at the next store that your card doesn't work.  And if you do think your card has been compromised you can request a new credit card number in the app.  No muss, no fuss.

Attaching the card to my iTunes account makes those sales easy.  My big purchase of the day, an app purchased from the App Store was instant, seamless, and generated a whopping 6 cents on my Apple Cash card.

Reporting in the Wallet App is straightforward, showing the total balance, monthly or weekly activity, and the latest transactions.  It tells when payment is due, and has a button to pay early if you want to do that.  When you are ready to pay, a circular slider allows you to choose the amount to pay and displays whatever interest is due, based on the amount you choose and your past payments.  Your statements are also available in the app.  Apple says it has no fees and the app design encourages you to manage your card so you pay less interest.  Time will tell, but I have to think that having such clear, real-time data on my spending will have a positive impact on managing my spending with this card.

Apple CardFrom left, activating your titanium card with your phone, viewing details of a transaction including where you paid, your total and other data clearly displayed in the Wallet app, and statistics on how you are spending on a weekly or monthly basis.

I'm a bit old fashioned when it comes to paying bills.  I like paying by check.  I can't do that with my apple card.  Instead I attached my bank account to the app, and when I use the app to pay my monthly bill, it will transfer the money from my account.  I am mildly anxious about attaching things to my bank account, but this is pretty much the only way to pay using this card.  Evidently you can pay with Apple Cash, but that would mean putting money into that card so you can pay this card.  In general Apple puts a premium on privacy, and it's not like there is ever a ton of money in my checking account, so I went ahead and attached it.  If I don't like it I can always unattach my account later.

And paying was easy and instant.  You click a button or two and it is done.  I do worry that the only way to pay is using the app on my iPhone.  What if I lose the phone?  I may end up paying interest not because I didn't want to pay, but because I have no way to pay.  That is one of the 'what ifs' Apple has yet to address.

But I must say that of all the years I've had iPhones, this is the first time I have actually enjoyed using the Wallet app.  Apple really did re-imagine what a credit card could be, and so far the instant feedback and transparency make using this credit card a much better experience.  If I am worried I am spending too much I don't have to wait for the next statement or slog through transactions on a Web site.  The information is right there on my phone, quickly and easily accessed.  The easy and the instant parts are what makes using this card a joy.  When Apple says its card is "a new kind of credit card created by Apple"... it actually is.

Pin It