The new Apple Card, announced today, seems fine. But only fine. There’s no annual fee, and assuming you never pay interest on it, signing up for it won’t cause you any harm. But there are better credit cards out there. Lots of them.
The Apple Card seems to be a straight cash back card, meaning that unlike travel rewards cards, you can’t potentially use your points for valuable redemptions worth multiple cents per point. The card’s 1% to 3% cash back really does mean 1% to 3% back; nothing more, and nothing less. That’s how a lot of no-annual-fee cards like this one operate, but many others offer higher rates of return, better bonus categories, and lucrative welcome bonuses.
With the Apple Card, you’ll earn 3% back on Apple purchases, 2% back on Apple Pay purchases, and 1% back on all other purchases. And just so you know, 1% cash back is not good, even on a free card, and should be avoided at all costs. The 2% back on Apple Pay purchases isn’t terrible, but even though Apple claims 70% of U.S. merchants accept Apple Pay, in my experience at least, it still feels fairly rare. Finally, 3% back on Apple purchases is a unique selling point, but most Apple products can be bought from other retailers like Amazon and Best Buy for below MSRP, with even higher potential returns in addition to lower prices (like, for example, the Amazon Prime Visa and its 5% back on Amazon purchases).
Again, the Apple Card isn’t actively harmful or anything, but it’s probably not what you should use for most purchases, if you want to maximize returns. For example, the Discover It Miles card has no annual fee, earns 1.5% back on all purchases, and matches all of your cash back for your first year. The Wells Fargo Propel Amex also has no annual fee, earns 3% back on travel, dining, gas, and streaming services like Netflix, and has a welcome offer worth $300, if you spend $3,000 on it in your first three months. Our readers also identified several other great no-annual-fee cards here.
Granted, none of these cards will give you a fancy spending dashboard on your iPhone, a (frankly quite sexy) laser etched titanium card, or deposit your cash back into your Apple Pay Cash balance once per day. But give me higher returns and sign-up bonuses over whiz-bang features every day of the week.