Apple Card invites are rolling out 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 its implications earlier this year for TidBITS in “Apple Card: More Than Just a Credit Card” (28 March 2019). Rather than cover such heavily trodden ground again, I wanted to explain how you can maximize your Apple Card benefits.
The Apple Card’s signature perk is daily cash rewards, which vary depending on what you buy and how you buy it. You’ll receive:
- 3% back on purchases made directly from Apple, including the Apple Store, the App Store, iCloud storage, and iTunes
- 2% back on Apple Pay purchases made from non-Apple retailers
- 1% back on all other purchases, including those made with the physical Apple Card
Use Apple Card for Your Apple Services
An easy way to get that 3% cash-back is to use your Apple Card for all of your Apple services. Apple provides a shortcut in the Apple Card settings to do just that:
- Open the Wallet app.
- Tap your Apple Card.
- Tap the ••• button in the upper-right corner.
- Scroll down and tap Make Default at Apple.
These steps make your Apple Card the default payment method for all of your transactions with Apple, including app purchases from the App Store, Apple TV subscriptions, iCloud storage, your Apple Music plan, and even AppleCare if you choose to pay per month.
You can double-check that Apple Card is your default by going to Settings > Your Name > Payment & Shipping. Your Apple Card should be listed as the first payment method.
If you have an Apple Watch, you can check to see if the Apple Card is its default payment method by opening the Watch app and tapping My Watch > Wallet & Apple Pay > Default Card.
Use Apple Pay
Of course, Apple wants to incentivize you to use Apple Pay, which is why the company gives you 2% cash-back on every purchase you make with it through Apple Card. Apple Pay is well-enough established at this point that I won’t bore you with a complete guide, but here are some quick pointers on using it:
- To make sure your Apple Card is the default Apple Pay method, go to Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay, and scroll down to Default Card. If it’s not Apple Card, tap it and choose Apple Card.
- To use Apple Pay in a store, double-press your iPhone’s Home or side button and authenticate with Touch ID or Face ID. Alternatively, activate it from your Apple Watch by double-pressing the side button. Once you’ve activated Apple Pay, hold your device near the card reader.
- Figuring out what stores take Apple Pay can be tricky. Apple has a list of Apple Pay partners, but your best bet is to look for one of these symbols around the register. If you’re not sure, ask the cashier.
- Remember that you can use Apple Pay in some iOS apps like Lyft and on some Web sites when viewed in Safari, like the new, improved Take Control site. You don’t have to use Safari to use your Apple Card online, but you’ll get only 1% cash-back instead of the 2% that comes with Apple Pay purchases. Look for your card number, date, and security code in Apple Card settings under Card Information (remember, tap the ••• button in the card’s listing 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 the iPhone Upgrade Program
If you subscribe to Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program, you can switch your payment method to the Apple Card to get that 3% cash-back with every monthly payment. But how you change your payment method isn’t obvious, and Apple doesn’t explain it.
The iPhone Upgrade Program is managed by Citizens One, so if you need to do anything with it other than buying or trading in an iPhone, you’ll have to create a Citizens One account. As I discussed in “The iPhone Upgrade Program: A Year in Review” (30 November 2017), the hardest part is creating a password that conforms to all of Citizen One’s byzantine requirements. You’ll also need your loan number, which you can find in one of your monthly email receipts from Citizens One.
Once you’ve set up your account, log in and click Change Payment Account under your current balance. Click the dropdown list labeled Change My Payment Account, and choose Add a New Payment Account.
Again, you can find your Apple Card number and other information by opening Wallet, tapping your Apple Card, then the ••• button, and finally Card Information. After you click 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 your cash-back payments every day, but it’s not immediately obvious how you access that cash. Apple pays you through its Apple Pay Cash system and puts the money on that virtual card.
If you look at your cards in Wallet, you should see Apple Pay Cash in the stack, along with its current balance if you have one. Tap that card to see your latest transactions, including your 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 that money anywhere else, you’ll have to withdraw it first. While viewing your Apple Pay Cash card, tap that ••• button and then Transfer to Bank. You’ll need to have a bank account tied to Apple Pay Cash if you don’t already.
Avoid Interest Charges
There are no fees associated with the Apple Card, which is great, but that doesn’t mean it’s free to use. If you carry a balance, you’ll be paying an annual percentage rate of anywhere between 12.99% and 23.99% on the balance. Your payment is due on the last day of every month, and although you’ll receive a notification to pay it, it’s all too easy to miss or be unable to complete the transaction. For instance, if you lose your iPhone, there’s currently no way to pay your bill otherwise!
Thankfully, 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, tapping the ••• button, and tapping Scheduled Payments.
- Tap Continue.
- Tap Pay My Bill.
- Tap Next.
- Keep “When Payment Is Due” selected and tap Next.
- Authorize with Touch ID, Face ID, or your Apple ID password.
You’ll also need to 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 link that to your Apple Card with just a couple of taps.
What are your thoughts or first impressions about Apple Card? Let us know in the comments, and tell us what your plans are in our quick one-question survey.