Apple Card invitations are launched for those who signed up for the preview of Apple's new credit card. Coverage has been intense – Macworld has a FAQ that covers all the details, and Jeff Porten wrote about the implications earlier this year for TidBITS in "Apple Card: More Than Just a Credit Card" (March 28, 2019). Instead of covering so heavily drawn ground again, I wanted to explain how to maximize your Apple Card benefits.
The Apple Card's signature rewards are daily cash rewards, which vary depending on what you buy and how you buy it. You receive:
- 3% back on purchases made directly from Apple, including Apple Store, App Store, iCloud storage and iTunes
- 2% back on Apple Pay purchases made from non-Apple retailers [1
Use the Apple card for your Apple services
An easy way to get the 3% cash back is to use the Apple card for all Apple services . Apple offers a shortcut in Apple Card settings to do just that:
- Open the Wallet app.
- Touch Apple Card.
- Press the •• button in the upper right corner.
- Scroll down and touch Make default with Apple.
These steps will make your Apple Card the default payment method for all of your Apple transactions, including App Store purchases, Apple TV subscription, iCloud storage, your Apple Music plan, and even AppleCare if you choose to pay per month.
You can double check that your Apple Card is your default by going to Settings> Your Name > Payment and Delivery. Your Apple card should appear as your first payment method.
If you have an Apple Watch, you can check if the Apple card is the default payment method by opening the Watch app and touching My Clock> Wallet and Apple Pay> Standard Card.
Use Apple Pay
Of course, Apple wants to encourage you to use Apple Pay, which is why the company gives you 2% cashback on every purchase you make with it through the Apple Card. Apple Pay is well established at this point that I don't want to bore you with a complete guide, but here are some quick tips to use it:
- To make sure the Apple Card is the default Apple Pay method, go to Settings> Wallet and Apple Pay and scroll down to Standard Card. If it is not an Apple card, press it and select Apple card.
- To use Apple Pay in a store, double-tap the iPhone or Page button and confirm with Touch ID or Face ID. Alternatively, you can enable it from Apple Watch by double-clicking the side button. After enabling Apple Pay, you can keep your device near the card reader.
- Finding out what stores take Apple Pay can be tricky. Apple has a list of Apple Pay partners, but the best option is to look for one of these symbols around the registry. If you are not sure, ask the cashier.
- Remember that you can use Apple Pay in some iOS apps like Lift and on some websites when you see it in Safari, such as the new enhanced Take Control site. You don't absolutely need to use Safari to use your Apple card online, but you only get 1% cashback instead of the 2% that comes with Apple Pay purchases. Look for the card number, date, and security code in the Apple Card settings under Card Information (remember, press the ••• button on the card's list in the Wallet app.)
- If you suspect your Apple Card number has been compromised, you can request a new card number from the card information screen.
Use Apple Card with iPhone Upgrade Program
If you subscribe to Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program, you can switch your payment method to Apple Card to get that 3% cashback with each monthly payment. But how to change the payment method is not obvious, and Apple does not explain it.
The iPhone upgrade program is managed by Citizens One, so if you need to do something other than buy or shop on an iPhone, you need to create a Citizens One account. As I discussed in the "iPhone Upgrade Program: A Year in Review" (November 30, 2017), the hardest part is creating a password that matches all Citizen Wed's Byzantine requirements. You'll also need your loan number, which you can find in one of your monthly Citizens One email receipts.
Once you have created your account, log in and click Change Payment Account under the current balance. Click the drop-down list labeled Change payment account and select Add a new payment account.
Again, you can find your Apple card number and other information by opening Wallet, pressing the Apple card, then the ••• button, and finally Card information. After clicking Confirm, your Apple Card should be the default payment method for your iPhone Upgrade Program subscription.
Claim Your Cash
One of the unique benefits of the Apple Card is that Apple credits you with cashback payments every day, but it is not immediately obvious how to access the cash. Apple pays you through the Apple Pay Cash system and puts the money on the virtual card.
If you look at your cards in Wallet, you should see Apple Pay Cash in the stack, along with the current balance if you have one. Touch that card to see the latest transactions, including the Apple Card's daily cash rewards.
You can use Apple Pay Cash to send money to friends (see "How to Use Apple Pay Cash for Person-to-Person Transactions, 7" December 2017), but if you want to spend the money elsewhere, you must draw them first. While looking at the Apple Pay Cash card, press the ••• button and then Bank Transfer. You must have a bank account tied to Apple Pay Cash if you have not already done so.
Avoid Interest Costs
There are no fees associated with the Apple card, which is good, but that doesn't mean it's free to use. If you have a balance, you pay an annual percentage rate of between 12.99% and 23.99% on the balance. Your payment is due on the last day of each month, and even if you want to receive a payment notification, it's too easy to miss or not complete the transaction. For example, if you lose your iPhone, there is currently no way to pay the bill otherwise!
Fortunately, you can set up automatic payments so you'll never be charged interest:
- Go to Apple Card settings by opening Wallet, tapping your Apple card, pressing the ••• button, and tapping Scheduled Payments .
- Touch Continue.
- Touch Pay my bill.
- Touch Next.
- Keep “When Payment To Pay” selected and press Next.
- Authorize with Touch ID, Face ID or your Apple ID password.
You must also have a bank account set up in Apple Card Settings> Bank Accounts. If you already have a bank account linked to Apple Pay Cash, you can connect it to your Apple card with just a few taps.
What are your thoughts or first impressions about the Apple Card? Let us know in the comments and let us know what your plans are in our quick survey.