How the new Apple Card compares to top rewards credit cards from Amex, Capital One, and more

The Apple Card has some standout features, but it doesn’t offer purchase protection or a sign-up bonus. Apple
  • The Apple Card is now available to iPhone users. You can apply for the card directly from your phone.

  • From a titanium card design with no card number on it to no fees to almost instant rewards, the card has several unique features.

  • While the Apple Card has several unique features, many of which involve its integration with the iPhone, when it comes to earning cash back and coverage like purchase protection, several other credit cards have a leg up.

For many people, Apple’s first iPhone changed their idea of what a mobile device could be, instantly making all other phones seem obsolete. Apple has just released its new credit card, and it’s taking the same revolutionary approach, with a titanium card design that doesn’t even include a card number and strong integration with the iPhone.

But the Apple Card is joining a crowded space – there are already plenty of credit cards that earn cash back with no annual fee, not to mention premium rewards cards with perks that can easily get you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in value. So, how does the Apple Card compare to cards from Amex, Citi, and other issuers?

How the Apple Card works

Let’s start with the basics. The Apple Card is a cash-back credit card with no annual fee. In fact, the Apple Card has no fees of any kind, including annual fees, foreign transaction fees, cash advance fees, and even late fees. But don’t expect a generous welcome bonus or a valuable introductory financing offer, because it doesn’t offer either.

Instead, the Apple Card offers 3% cash back on all purchases made through an Apple Store or the Apple App Store, and 2% cash back every time you use Apple Pay, either online or through contactless payments. And you earn just 1% cash back when using the physical Apple Card. And unlike most cards, you receive your rewards the day after a purchase, when it’s loaded to your account as Apple Cash.

The standard APR for purchases is 12.99% to 23.99%, depending on your creditworthiness when you apply. This might seem a little high compared to the industry average of about 15%, but it’s still competitive with other rewards credit cards, which usually have higher interest rates compared to credit cards that don’t offer points, miles, or cash back. And there’s no penalty APR that’s applied when you make a late payment.

Unique features of the Apple Card

Examining the rates and fees of the Apple Card is like evaluating the iPhone based on how well it makes plain old phone calls. The real point of the Apple Card appears to be its additional features that aren’t available on other credit cards.

For example, you can apply for a new account from within the Apple Wallet tab, and the card itself is a sleek, titanium monolith with your name engraved on it, but not an account number (the account number is available in the Wallet app).

The Apple Card is also tightly integrated with the iPhone. You see your purchases instantly, and you can even locate where each charge was processed by using Apple Maps. Each transaction is authorised by either Touch ID or Face ID, and you can have your lost or stolen card information replaced instantly in Apple Pay while a new physically card is being sent.

Apple also wants its new card to help you manage your money. It features weekly and monthly spending reports that you can access with a single tap that breaks down all of your spending by categories. And when it comes time to pay your bill, it shows you the interest you’ll incur if you fail to pay your entire balance.

How does the Apple Card stack up against its competitors?

No fees

Many features of the Apple Card are already available on other credit cards. For example, both the PenFed Promise and the Petal Card already have no fees at all, just like the Apple Card. And the Citi Double Cash effectively offers 2% cash back on all purchases, not just those paid through a mobile wallet service (you get 1% cash back at the time of purchase and another 1% cash back when you pay for your purchases, for a total of up to 2% with no limits).

Cash-back earning

Other cash-back credit cards can offer more generous bonuses on certain purchases. For example, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers 6% cash back at US supermarkets (on up to $US6,000 per year, then 1%) and on select US streaming services. And when it comes to buying Apple products, both the Best Buy credit card and the Amazon Prime Visa Signature Credit Card offer 5% back on all purchases with Best Buy and Amazon respectively, and you can buy many Apple products from those retailers.

And nearly all credit card issuers offer an app that helps you track purchases, and most will feature some way to categorise and track your purchases. But none of them integrate so closely with the iPhone.

Metal design

Finally, if it’s the titanium design of the Apple Card that intrigues you, there are other cards with metal designs, from the Chase Sapphire Reserve to the Capital One Savour Cash Rewards Credit Card to the American Express® Gold Card, which was even available in rose gold for a limited time. Of course, most of these cards have annual fees, unlike the Apple Card.

Benefits missing from the Apple Card

Purchase protection

One important credit card benefit that’s missing from the Apple Card is purchase protection. If you’re making a large purchase – such as an Apple product – using a credit card that protects you against damage or theft for a period after the purchase can grant you some extra peace of mind. Purchase protection is available on cards like the Platinum Card® from American Express – with that card, you get up to $US10,000 in coverage per claim.

Sign-up bonus

Other cards offer new account holders generous sign-up bonuses and promotional financing offers, both of which the Apple Card lacks. For instance, the Capital One Savour Cash Rewards Credit Card offers $US300 in cash back to new applicants who spend $US3,000 within three months of account opening. And the Citi Double Cash offers 18 months of 0% APR financing on both new purchases and balance transfers (then a variable rate of 15.99% to 25.99%).

Bottom line

Every credit card issuer hopes that its customers will use its credit card for all purchases, while ignoring other competing products that feature welcome bonuses, increased rewards for certain purchases, or a 0% APR financing offer for opening a new account. The Apple Card leverages its massive user base of loyal iPhone users, and it does offer some appealing perks like no fees and access to card info from the Wallet app.

But if you don’t have an iPhone, or if you’re less interested in its unique features like the card design and Touch ID integration, you have plenty of other strong credit card options, from no-annual-fee cards that can help you build credit like the Petal Card to compelling cash-back options like the Capital One Savour. And in some cases, like when you want purchase protection, other credit cards have distinct advantages.