Photo: Apple

The Apple Card Is Coming in August. Here's What Travelers Should Know

Technology + Gear Business Travel
by Tim Wenger Jul 31, 2019

Late this summer, Apple will drop a major bomb on the credit card landscape. CEO Tim Cook announced via the company’s quarterly earnings call that the tech company will release its first credit card, aptly titled the Apple Card, this August. Apple enters the credit card space with the mantra that this is a card “created by Apple, not a bank.” The card’s features and shiny aesthetics are certain to appeal to the modern spender. (Note that you can use the physical card or pay via your iPhone), but is it worth having it in your wallet if you’re a travel-credit-card enthusiast? Here’s everything you need to know to be prepared on release day.

The basics

In true Apple fashion, the Apple Card looks as though it will work seamlessly with other Apple products and horribly with everything else. Similar to Apple Pay, iPhone users will be able to store card details and manage their account in the Wallet app, and buy something in about as much time as it takes to make a fingerprint or scan your face. Balance and payment details are displayed right in the app, which also hosts a nice big payment reminder, so you won’t be hit with unexpected late fees.

In fact, there are no late fees, and according to Apple, there won’t be any fees at all. They’ve tossed the annual fee, cash advance fee, and over-the-limit fee out the window as well. They’ve even ditched the expiration date. According to the card’s website, “Our goal with Apple Card is to provide interest rates that are among the lowest in the industry,” though exact interest rates have yet to be disclosed, and you likely wouldn’t know yours until after the application process. The fine print reveals that in the case of missed payments, they’ll hit you with added interest instead of a fee, though, so you’re not totally off the hook.

Most ubiquities of modern credit cards are found on the Apple Card. For example, purchases are categorized, so you know how much went to productive purposes and how much you should rightfully cringe over. The balance statement promises to be straight forward about how much interest you’ll pay based on your desired payment amount, which won’t have any actual impact on your rate or what you’ll pay but is at least a step forward from most cards in terms of transparency.

Apple also addresses the issue of the forgetful spender. Each time you make a purchase, the business location will be stored on a map in your account so that before you get all up in a tizzy thinking your account was hacked, you can view the purchase details and remind yourself that it was, in fact, you who spent $500 on Amazon after a few too many glasses of wine last month.

Rewards program

No matter how much you spend with the Apple Card, there are no points or miles logged and no free portable Bluetooth speakers showing up at your door. Instead, the company offers rewards in the form of what it calls Daily Cash, a somewhat misleading moniker given that there is no actual cash involved. A percentage of each purchase will be loaded onto your Apple Cash card, which effectively works like a debit card, and you can then spend that toss back on whatever splurge suits your fancy. The exact “cashback” percentage is set to be between 2% and 3%, above the typical travel rewards credit card of around 1%. But for rewards enthusiasts swayed by sign-up bonuses, airline perks, and free hotel stays, this is not the credit card for you — you should check out the Marriot Bonvoy card, instead.

How about security and user experience?

Two factors give us hope that your experience with the Apple Card will, at least on Apple’s side, be seamless. The first is their experience. Apple introduced Apple Pay in October 2014, giving the company nearly five years of trial, error, and innovation in the digital money-processing space. And because the card primarily operates digitally, their encryption and safety technology will be employed on most, if not all, of your purchases.

Because of its digital-first approach, the Apple Card employs the same Face ID and Touch ID that iPhone users are accustomed to. Apple ditched the strip of numbers that adorn the front of traditional credit cards (along with the CVV, expiration date, and signature), deeming it unnecessary for a customer who makes a high percentage of their purchases online. That also makes it impossible for a thief to simply copy your digits and go on their merry spending way, so transactions are set to be more secure than with typical cards. For any traveler that’s had their card stolen abroad, that’s potentially a huge draw.

The second is the fact that, historically, Apple’s customer service is impressively streamlined and consistent. Ship your MacBook off for repairs and they’ll overnight it right back to you, sometimes in as little as 48 hours. Apple claims that cardholders will be able to text a customer service line for help in an instant, saving the headache of waiting on hold on a customer service line. However, just as Apple Pay was slow to catch on at most businesses, it’s possible that brick-and-mortar purchases may prove more difficult than the average Visa, especially if they’re not the sort of places that use iPads to complete transactions.

It does look pretty cool though…

Apple has always been about style, and the sleek Apple Card does not disappoint. The titanium card is super thin and minimalistic in design, and looking at your name etched into its shiny face is guaranteed to make you feel pretty cool. And at the end of the day, that’s probably who this card is going to appeal to most: Apple stans, tech bros, and anyone who sees brand new cards as a status symbol.

This article was updated on July 31, 2019.

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