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Apple Card review: Decent cash back if you can leap through the hurdles

Good cash back rates for Apple enthusiasts but lacks value for everyday cardholders.

 /  13 min
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At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for and how we rate our cards. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

Snapshot

3.5

Bankrate rating
Info
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Bottom line

The Apple Card is ideal for dedicated Apple enthusiasts but lacks a tremendous amount of value and convenience for everyone else. Its limitations, like not allowing balance transfers, and its stringent cash back restrictions hold it back from landing in the list of the best cash back credit cards.
Image of Apple Card

Apple Card

*
3.5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Bankrate score
Info
N/A

N/A

Intro offer

Info

2% - 3%

Rewards rate

Info

$0

Annual fee

19.24% to 29.49% Variable

Regular APR

Apple Card overview

The Apple Card is one of the most unique cash back credit cards on the market today, but it’s also geared specifically toward consumers who already own Apple devices. This rewards card works with the Wallet app on your iPhone or Apple Watch, as well as with Apple Pay, to streamline purchases and help you earn boosted cash back on everything you buy.

It compares well with a handful of other cash back cards, but you can only make the most of this card if you have an iPhone or other iOS device.. However, if you’re an Android user, this might not be the best option since you won’t earn more than 1 percent cash back with this card unless you use Apple Pay, which is only compatible with iOS devices, like iPhones and Apple Watches.

  • Credit Card Cash Back

    Rewards

    • 3 percent back when you shop with Apple and select retailers when you use your Apple Card with Apple Pay
    • 2 percent back on other spending when paying with Apple Pay
    • 1 percent back on all other purchases in-store and online

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Search

    Rates and fees

    • APR: 19.24 percent to 29.49 percent variable
    • Annual fee: None
    • Late payment fee: None
    • Penalty fee: None
    • Foreign transaction fee: None
    • Other fees: None

    Expert Appraisal: Exceptional
    See our expert analysis

  • Congrats

    Other cardholder perks

    • High-yield savings account
    • Mobile expense tracking

    Expert Appraisal: Unimpressive
    See our expert analysis

Apple Card pros and cons

Pros

  • Checkmark

    Generous cash back rates on all purchases let users earn a fair rate of cash back just about anywhere.

  • Checkmark

    You earn cash back as you make purchases every day, as opposed to lump-sum earnings at the end of billing cycles.

  • Checkmark

    This card is free of annual fees, foreign transaction fees and late fees, making it one of the most affordable, low-risk cards available.

  • Checkmark

    With this card, you can enjoy unique benefits like special introductory rates for eligible Apple purchases or automatically depositing your rewards in a high-yield savings account.

Cons

  • You’ll only earn the top cash back rate when you shop with Apple and use Apple Pay at select merchants.

  • This card is designed for Apple users and is not really useful for people who own other types of devices.

  • You won't be able to transfer your balance to another card and this card does not support balance transfers either, unusual for a cash back card.

Why you might want the Apple card

Cardholders can earn generous rewards for their spending at Apple stores, select retailers and on all other purchases. It also has a low-fee structure that makes it a safe option for anyone wary of added charges.

Rewards: Decent cash back rates for loyal Apple customers

You’ll earn 3 percent back when you shop with Apple and select merchants using Apple Pay, 2 percent back on other spending when paying with Apple Pay and 1 percent back on all other purchases. While the 3 percent cash back rate is very generous, it’s worth assessing how much you actually spend with Apple and other eligible retailers each year. It could be worth holding onto if you frequently upgrade your iPhone, buy a new MacBook or make Apple purchases for the whole family every few years. But this card lacks ongoing value for everyday purchases like dining, groceries and gas, especially if merchants you shop at don’t accept Apple Pay.

The card’s 2 percent cash back rate is competitive with some of the best flat rate cash back cards, but you’ll need to pay with your Apple Card and use Apple Pay on a device like your iPhone or Apple Watch. Though support for the mobile wallet has grown considerably in recent years, not all merchants accept Apple Pay. If Apple Pay isn’t an option, you’ll only earn 1 percent back on non-Apple purchases made with your physical card.

There are plenty of restrictions that could limit your cash back potential and these restrictions are particularly glaring in a landscape saturated with valuable cash back cards. However, this card’s rewards structure can be quite beneficial to cardholders poised to make the most of it, like iPhone users, so it certainly could work as a strong cash back card. 

Rates and fees: Fee-free structure makes it affordable

The Apple Card doesn’t charge an annual fee, foreign transaction fees or late fees. This fee-free structure helps the card stand out to users wary of hidden credit card fees stacking onto their card balance.

By not charging any fees, the Apple Card might appeal to users who may want a reprieve from worrying about extra costs. The lack of fees also makes it a great card for international travel.

However, although the card won’t charge you a late fee, your balance will continue to accrue interest at your card’s ongoing APR, which can be relatively high. And increased credit card debt can negatively affect your credit score.

If you aren’t a seasoned credit card user, then this might not be the best card because it doesn’t provide a sturdy framework for maintaining good credit habits. If you can stay on top of your payments, then you can use this card worry-free of added costs.

Why you might want a different cash back card

If you aren’t an Apple customer and don’t plan on becoming one, the Apple Card is really not for you. Although it can offer great value for dedicated Apple consumers, it falls short in several areas that other cards do really well in.

Welcome offer: Lacks first-year cash back value

Unfortunately, the Apple Card does not have a welcome offer, which is something that many issuers offer on the best cash back credit cards. Without a welcome offer, cardholders are missing out on a substantial amount of cash back for their initial spending. Many cash back cards have welcome offers valued around $200, and you can earn these offers by spending as low as $500 in your first three months.

If you’d like to earn a welcome offer on your next credit card, the Apple Card can’t help you. However, several cash back cards available from our partners have generous sign-up bonuses that can put a lump sum payment in your pockets.

Perks: Offers very few benefits

There aren’t many remarkable perks that come with this card other than the chance to deposit your cash back earnings into a high-yield savings account with the card’s issuer, Goldman Sachs.

Many competitive, no-annual-fee cash back cards carry perks like cellphone protection, intro APRs and boosted rewards rates for purchases made using issuer portals. This card lacks several benefits that are widely available on some of the best credit cards, many of which have comparable rewards rates. Although perks shouldn’t make or break your decision, you should consider them as you weigh your options. Many perks have a monetary value that can add to your overall savings. For instance, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express carries a statement credit for the Disney Bundle valued at $84 for the year. 

Balance transfers: Poor choice for debt consolidation

If you’re hoping to consolidate your other card debt onto this card or transfer this card’s balance to another card, you’re out of luck. The Apple Card does not offer balance transfers.

It’s uncommon to find a card that won’t permit a balance transfer of any kind. You’ll typically be allowed to transfer your balance from one card to another by paying a small fee, usually 3 or 4 percent of the amount you transfer. This limitation makes the Apple Card a poor choice for people currently paying down card debt who would benefit more from a good balance transfer credit card.

For instance, if you were to rack up a balance on this card, you wouldn’t be able to transfer that balance to another card with an intro APR. Intro APRs can be a lifeline for people trying to escape mounting interest charges. The Apple Card places a hefty restriction on debt management, making it a risky choice for people prone to accruing credit card debt.

We tried it: Here’s what our experts say

While the hyped Apple Card offers minimal perks and lacks a sign-up bonus, our senior editor Nouri Zarrugh found a spot for it in his wallet:

"It may not have the best rewards rates, but as an iPhone user, I've found the Apple Card makes tracking spending and paying my bill very convenient. The Wallet app's notifications and interface ensure I always know exactly how much to pay and always pay on time." 

—Nouri Zarrugh, Senior Editor, Credit Cards

 

How the Apple Card compares to other cash back cards

Before you sign up for the Apple Card, you should compare it to a few other cash back credit cards with different features and rewards that also offer sign-up bonuses and more versatility. 

Image of Apple Card

Apple Card

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

2% - 3%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

N/A
Info
Image of Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Bankrate Score
Rating: 4.8 stars out of 5
4.8

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$200
Info

Rewards rate

1% - 5%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Wells Fargo's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$200 cash rewards
Info

Rewards rate

2%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Best cards to pair with the Apple Card

Since the Apple Card only gives the 2 percent back rate on everyday purchases made with the card through Apple Pay and your Apple device, you may want to pick up another rewards card to use  where Apple Pay isn’t available. 

Who is the Apple Card right for?

Since this card’s best rewards rate outside of Apple stores and eligible merchants is only 2 percent back (Apple Pay required), anyone who is a fan of Apple products or uses Apple Pay often would find this card worthwhile. If you don't use Apple Pay, you might be better off with a different card.

Bankrate’s Take — Is the Apple Card worth it?

If you use Apple devices and spend a lot on Apple products already, the Apple Card may be well worth signing up for. This is especially true if you spend a lot at other merchants the Apple Card offers 3 percent back in, such as T-Mobile, Nike, Walgreens, Exxon, Mobil, Panera and Uber Eats. If you make the most of your purchases with Apple Pay and your phone already, then you’re already primed to earn 2 percent back on most of your non-Apple spending as well.

Still, there are plenty of other rewards cards that offer a lot more flexibility, meaning you’ll earn the rewards rate no matter whether you pay with a physical card or through an app. With that in mind, you should compare the top card options before you decide.

The information about the Chase Freedom Flex℠ has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

How we rated this card

Document
150+
cards rated
Congrats
50+
rewards programs valued
Search
1800
data points analyzed
Credit Card Search
40+
perks evaluated

We rate credit cards using a proprietary card scoring system that ranks each card’s estimated average rewards rate, estimated annual earnings, welcome bonus value, APR, fees, perks and more against those of other cards in its primary category.

Each card feature is assigned a weighting based on how important it is to people looking for a card in a given category. These features are then scored based on how they rank relative to the features on other cards in the category. Based on these calculations, each card receives an overall rating of 1-5 stars (with 5 being the highest possible score and 1 being the lowest). 

We analyzed over 150 of the most popular rewards and cash back cards to determine where each stacked up based on their value, cost, benefits and more. Here are some of the key factors that influenced this card’s overall score and how the score influenced our review:

Frequently asked questions

Written by
Brendan Dyer
Associate Editor, Credit Cards
Brendan Dyer holds a Master of Fine Arts in Journalism from Western Connecticut State University and worked previously as a content editor for Regional News Network, a hyper-local TV news station contracted by Verizon FiOS1 News. As a national service volunteer, Brendan exercised a passion for helping underserved communities and demographics through direct, community service. He constantly seeks to apply his expertise as a journalist to the field of personal finance with the goal of helping people navigate the complexities of the credit card industry.
Edited by Editor II, Credit Cards

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.