David Heinemeier, creator of the popular Ruby on Rails developer framework, set off a firestorm when he tweeted about getting an Apple Card credit limit that was 20 times higher than his wife’s, even though they file taxes jointly. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak chimed in with a similar experience. That tweet kicked off an investigation by the New York Department of Financial Services into Goldman Sachs, which administers the Apple Card. Goldman Sachs has responded publicly, claiming that it doesn’t even see gender or marital status during the application process. However, others, like Heinemeier, have argued that Goldman’s algorithm is inherently sexist.
We’ll leave such judgments to the authorities, but we see a few takeaways:
- Carey Halio, CEO of the Goldman Sachs retail banking business, said that anyone dissatisfied with their credit limit should contact Goldman Sachs for a re-evaluation. We’ve heard complaints from many readers, male and female, who felt that their limits were absurdly low. If that’s you, contact Goldman to request a higher limit. (In Wallet, tap the Apple Card, tap the ellipsis button, and then tap Message or Call.)
- Apple Card not offering joint accounts is a real liability that’s blowing up in Apple’s and Goldman Sachs’ collective faces. Goldman Sachs has said that the low-limit problem is due to applicants with a “limited credit history,” like people who piggyback on their spouse’s credit lines. It’s likely this wouldn’t have made the news at all if the Apple Card had simply offered joint accounts from the beginning, like nearly every other credit card.
- We need more transparency in the credit scoring and application process in the US. Who gets more credit and why is often inscrutable, leading to distrust of the process. And yahoo companies like Equifax don’t help (see “You Can’t Protect Yourself from the Equifax Breach,” 13 September 2017, and “Equifax Cash Settlement Backtracking Leaves a Bad Taste,” 5 August 2019).