- With the Apple Card, Apple has created a credit card that lives entirely on your iPhone — a move that has both benefits and drawbacks.
- While the Apple Card’s close ties to the iPhone may make it more secure and convenient than a traditional card, it also makes it more limiting.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
If you perform a Google search for "Apple Card," the top result will be a link to Apple’s website telling you the card was "created by Apple, not a bank."
That might leave you wondering why Apple so badly wants you to know that its credit card was designed by a technology company and not a financial institution, especially during an era in which public distrust of large tech firms seems to be higher than ever.
But if there’s one thing Apple wants you to know about the Apple Card, it’s that it was designed by Apple, a company that knows a thing or two about mobile software design and how people interact with apps. A company that was credited with inventing the modern smartphone back in 2007 — and whose business most certainly relies on making sure you continue using that smartphone and all of the features, accessories, and services that go along with it. That undoubtedly is a large part of Apple’s motivation to enter the personal finance space to begin with.
That approach is also what gives the Apple Card an edge over some rivals — the notion that anyone who has ever signed up for an email account can probably figure out how to apply for and use an Apple Card. Everything from activating your physical card to paying your balance relies on your iPhone, making the card feel as secure and familiar to use as any other Apple device.
But that’s also the Apple Card’s biggest hindrance. Sure, having a credit card that lives on your phone in a digital wallet is ideal for convenience and security. Yet it also makes the experience of using the Apple Card more limiting than other options, especially when it comes to paying your balance, managing your card, and the rewards you get.
The Apple Card’s tight integration with the iPhone yields plenty of benefits, among the biggest being the heightened level of security it offers.
As much as you might want to show off your sleek, titanium physical Apple Card, that card is really intended to be a backup to the digital version. That’s presumably why Apple provides 2% in Daily Cash when you use the virtual card through Apple Pay and just 1% when you use the tangible card.
As such, using the Apple Card encourages you to use Apple Pay more frequently, which means you’re likely giving away critical details like your credit card number, security code, and expiration date much less frequently. Getting into the habit of using Apple Pay to make purchases with your Apple Card could push you to use your iPhone for non-Apple Card transactions too, which can be more secure than inserting a chip or swiping a card because your actual payment information isn’t shared with the vendor.
Apple also creates three different card numbers for your Apple Card that work independently of one another, making it more difficult for thieves to use your card should they get ahold of your information. There’s one specific device number for Apple Pay, another number for the physical card, and then a virtual card number that you can use for digital purchases outside of Apple Pay.
Other than that higher level of security, having a credit card that was created with a digital-first mentality also results in other small but useful conveniences. To activate your physical card, you simply hold it near the packaging, much like pairing a new set of AirPods for the first time.
Contacting Apple’s support team is also as easy as sending a text message.When you pay your bill, your balance is displayed in a circular graphic that will feel familiar to anyone who has agonized over closing their move, exercise, and stand rings in Apple’s activity app.
And the instant you make a transaction with your physical card, you receive a notification on your iPhone by default.
Lisa Eadicicco/Business Insider
But there are ways in which the Apple Card’s reliance on the iPhone can detract from the card’s usefulness and convenience.
The Apple Card seems to have been created with the assumption that you’ll always have an iOS device at your disposal to manage your account. If you happen to lose your iPhone, you won’t be able to pay your balance or access your account unless you have another iOS device available for use, like an iPad. If you don’t have an iPad or another iOS device, you’ll want to call the Apple Card support team to help remedy the situation.
What happens if you haven’t ordered a titanium Apple Card and your iPhone loses power or malfunctions? In that case, it doesn’t look like you’ll be using your Apple Card until you find a charger.
Other major credit card holders offer iOS and Android apps as well as web portals for managing your account, giving users the flexibility to pay their bills or keep track of their transactions any way they choose, whether it be online, in an app, or even through the mail.
That all makes the iPhone feel like more of a necessity to me than ever before, which is probably exactly what Apple wants.
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