Apple Card has been making headlines for the last few months since it was announced at Apple’s special event in March 2019. It’s just a credit card like any other credit card, however, it comes with some cool security and privacy features that make it stand out from the crowd.
Despite the tech juggernaut doesn’t plan to compete directly against credit banks and credit card issuers, it already has them quaking in their boots.
Although it feels like a threat to their businesses, it can be beneficial for credit card consumers with Apple entering financial services. The iPhone maker is about to disrupt the credit card market with its new Apple Card.
Credit Card Profitability Model
Credit card companies make billions of dollars every year from you in the form of annual fees, interest, and transaction fees where you use your card.
For consumers, in particular, it’s due to how credit card companies bury deep those fees in the fine print of your cardholder’s agreement. You won’t know about them until you’ve been charged. It’s an awful feeling to get hit by a hidden fee.
We all can agree that credit card companies make it hard for their customers to stay on top of their credit card habits. Most of their websites are hard to navigate, their dull banking apps with limited card functionality are a nightmare for consumers.
Their shady practice businesses will maximize profits from their customers, even if that means taking advantage of people’s behavioral weaknesses.
Did you know that most U.S. consumers are either unsure or unaware of their cards’ APRs?
We’re not saying either that they force us to rack up debt that we may not be able to pay off. They just use our irresponsibilities with credit cards as leverage to make profits.
If credit card consumers use credit cards wisely and responsibly, which means paying them in full each and every month, it’s a lose-lose game for credit card companies. Most of their revenue comes from interests charged on unpaid credit card balances each month.
If you take a glance at the Apple Card you’ll quickly notice that it doesn’t look like a mainstream credit card. The card looks exactly like a piece of hardware you’d expect to come from the California-based giant tech. It has no number, signature, expiration date, or security code – and that’s it.
The card only has your name imprinted on it. When you flip it over, on the backside of the card you’ll find Goldman Sachs and Master Card logos along with the magnetic stripe. That’s pretty much it. All your Apple Card information lives inside the Wallet app on your iPhone.
The activation couldn’t be any simpler. To activate your titanium card, open up the envelope that came with the card, open the Wallet app, tap activate and hold your iPhone close to the packaging.
You could also just hold your iPhone next to the envelope and a prompt will show on the screen to activate the card. That’s it. No waiting in line to speak to someone or to visit the bank’s website.
Of course, that’s nothing cutting-edge. It’s just an NFC chip reader that’s underneath the packaging. It allows you to activate the card when holding your iPhone next to it.
But the experience really feels novel. After using it, you’ll find it a hassle to activate mainstream credit cards. You’ll either need to call or go online to activate your card.
Privacy and Security Features
Believe it or not, Apple Card is primarily designed to be used with Apple Pay, which is Apple’s preferred payment method since the company makes money when you use its contactless payment system.
That’s why the physical card is optional at the end of your application. Who wouldn’t want to carry that status symbol? After all, that’s why people apply for this card in the first place.
For merchants that don’t accept Apple Pay, you can use the titanium Apple Card. It works like any other credit card, but you do need your iPhone to authenticate with Face ID, Touch ID, or passcode.
If you’re shopping online and do need to manually enter your credit card, you can find your card number in the Wallet app, which is different than the physical Apple Card number.
What truly sets the Apple Card apart from traditional credit cards, besides its look, is the range of security and privacy features it has. Apple doesn’t know where you shopped, what you bought, or how much you paid.
But you know who does? Goldman Sachs. They are the ones processing those payments, therefore they will have a record of every purchase and payment you make with your Apple Card.
According to Apple, Goldman Sachs has agreed to “never share or sell your data to third parties for marketing or advertising.” But they can use your data for themselves.
God knows what their intention is with your data. It could be personalized loan offers. Be wary of them due to their role in the 2008 financial crisis. But rest assured, Goldman Sachs will use your data to its ultimate benefit.
Moving on to the interface, the Wallet app is far ahead and has an all-around sophisticated visual interface, the cleanest you can find on any other equivalent credit card app.
Its interactive and dynamic interface has a beautiful design and gives you the right tools to have control of your credit card. There’s a slider that allows you to see how much you can save on interest by paying more toward your card balance.
It’s nothing groundbreaking as you can find online calculators that will show you how long it will take to pay off your credit card debt. However, it’s more convenient to have everything in one place in the case of Apple Card.
This was well thought out with user experience at the center. In terms of payment, whatever you pay will be automatically reflected in your available credit line.
The lack of numbers and other important information on the card doesn’t only give it that clean and minimalistic look but also takes a big step toward credit card security.
Apple Card comes with a dynamic credit card and security code number. When you have to use your card number to make a purchase, your iPhone uses the virtual one and generates a one-time security code from the Wallet app. That way, your real card number, your physical card, never get revealed.
This will protect your card from prying eyes and prevent credit card fraud big time. If you suspect your credit card number is compromised you can generate a new card number right from the Wallet app.
In case your card got lost or stolen you can freeze it and request one within the app. There’s no need to contact your bank, Goldman Sachs in that case, you’re in control of virtually everything.
Take a look at the pictures above, it’s a screenshot of the Chase credit card app user interface by the way. The differences are quite significant. There’s no joy in paying for a credit card, but Apple makes the user experience seamless and painless.
The user-centric approach, simple application, easy budgeting tools, no fees will be a big incentive to a crowded market to sign up for the Apple card vs any traditional credit card.
It will not certainly be easy for financial institutions to adopt the Apple Card features since they don’t have the technology built around the iPhone. They also cannot afford to go the no-fees approach that Apple took as they heavily depend on those fees to stay profitable.
But what we know for sure, is they’ll be more transparent with their business, more customer-centric and their mobile apps will have better customer interfaces.
If you have good credit and have been using credit cards for years, you’ll be better off with another credit card that has better perks than the Apple Card. It offers 3% cash-back on purchases made directly from Apple, 2% cash-back on all purchases when you pay with Apple Pay, and 1% cash-back when you pay using the physical card at merchants that don’t accept Apple Pay.
Basically, you’re getting 1% cash-back on your purchases. Unless you’re a die-hard Apple fan who would buy Apple products out of impulse. Hold up, are you really going to the Apple store shopping all the time with this card?
To get that 2% cash-back you’ll have to pull your phone each time you make a payment if, of course, they accept Apple Pay. If you pull out the sleek laser-etched titanium card you get 1%.
While Apple Card blows out of the water other banking apps in terms of consumer-friendly approach and features there are some serious drawbacks.
If you use budgeting apps like Mint or Personal Capital, they won’t be able to track your Apple Card spending since Apple has not allowed data transfer to third-party apps at the moment.