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Everything you need to know about how to get and use the Apple Card


It’s not out yet, but we already know how you can —and how you should —use it in practice. Or rather, we know a lot, but there are still significant questions about how you use a card that apparently has no credit card number.

The titanium Apple Card has no number on it

The titanium Apple Card has no number on it

Going by how much debt we’re all carrying, we’re at least familiar with how to spend on credit cards. Apple already says that it’s going to be better at helping us manage that debt with the Apple Card and related software. But, there are important issues the company hasn’t explained, such as how Apple Card is supposedly a credit card without a number, and so many online stores that don’t take Apple Pay may struggle with that.

While the card won’t be out until the summer, we do know already that the sign-up process is going to be quick. It’s not clear how long the credit approval process will take, but it’s presumably going to be the same as with any other card. What happens so much faster is that if you are approved, then you have the card immediately.

Or rather, your new Apple Card will appear immediately as an entry in the Wallet app on your iPhone. The physical credit card, the titanium one that is already a reason people want this service, will be mailed like always, and does have to be carved out of that metal, so that’s going to take a least a couple of days.

Nonetheless, you will have it in your Wallet app and the account will be open so you will be able to use it immediately.

Before you buy anything

Your new Apple Card will be in your Wallet app. It’s not clear yet, though, whether that will also mean that it’s immediately available to use in Apple Pay on your iPhone and Apple Watch.

It’s possible now to have different cards on your phone and Watch, though, so it’s likely that there will at least be a confirmation step before you can wave either device at a cashier machine and pay.

If this will be the first time that you’ve had more than one card on your Watch or iPhone, you need to know how to choose the one you want to pay with. On either device, double-press the side button to launch Apple Pay. You’ll see an image of one card but you can swipe to the right to get any other one.

Whichever card is being shown on the screen is the one that the next purchase will be charged to.

Using Apple Card to pay via Apple Pay on your Apple iPhone

Using Apple Card to pay via Apple Pay on your Apple iPhone

How to buy

There are really three ways to pay for anything with an Apple Card —and an important fourth method that we simply don’t know about yet.

Out in the real world, you are best off waving your iPhone or Apple Watch wherever possible and thereby paying with Apple Card via Apple Pay. If you are somewhere that doesn’t accept Apple Pay, get out your titanium Apple Card and swipe it through the reader.

If there’s anywhere left that uses the ancient idea of taking an impression of your card using carbon paper, well, shop somewhere else. You could go back to paying by cash, but that raises another issue we don’t know about Apple Card. You will surely be able to withdraw cash from an ATM with your Apple Card and Apple claims there are no fees for anything.

However, traditionally, it’s an atrocious idea to use your credit card to draw out cash because companies have penalized people by altering your interest rate. The rules vary, but it can be that you don’t just get charged more about the amount of cash you withdraw, but rather for all your purchases to the end of the billing period.

Apple may have said that it’s giving low interest rates, but it isn’t yet. So far the quoted rates are pretty much in line with other credit card firms so it’s fair to assume that a bad idea on one of those will be a bad idea on Apple Card too.

Paying online

While we may think of Apple Pay as being good for buying goods with our Apple Watch, you can also use it for shopping online. It’s not accepted everywhere, but it is increasingly common to get Apple Pay listed alongside options such as PayPal.

A typical online store's checkout options when it accepts Apple Pay

A typical online store’s checkout options when it accepts Apple Pay

If that’s the case, you just right ahead and use Apple Pay. You’ll have to authenticate that it’s you making the purchase so if you’re on a new MacBook with the T2 security chip, you’ll be able to touch your thumb or finger against the reader. If you’re not, if your Mac doesn’t support this Touch ID, you’ll have to enter your Apple ID and password.

Only, there are many online stores that do not accept Apple Pay and one of them is Amazon.

Ordinarily, you would just add your new credit card’s details into your Amazon account once and then select it whenever you wanted to pay with it. However, you may have seen that there isn’t a printed number on the titanium Apple Card. That’s because Apple is working to get away from these numbers. In truth, your Apple Card will actually have a regular credit number but so far it looks as if Apple won’t rush to let you know what it is.

If that’s the case, you simply won’t be able to use Apple Card on Amazon or other sites. You won’t be able to record its details in an app like 1Password because there won’t be any details.

Hopefully, though, Apple will make the actual credit card number available to you for cases like this.

When you’ve bought

One of the Apple Card features that the company is championing, is what happens when you actually buy something. As is the case with many other credit cards, you get some money back.

That money comes out of the fee that the credit card company charges the vendor. And Apple is using it to incentivize you to buy everything via Apple Pay.

Should you ignore that and just buy something using your physical card, Apple will pay you back 1 percent of the purchase price. If you instead buy anything on the card via Apple Pay, then you’ll get 2 percent. And if that purchase is of any Apple product or service, you’ll get 3 percent.

It’s not clear yet what happens if you, say, buy an LG UltraFine 5K Display from an Apple Store. It’s not an Apple product, but it is being sold to you by Apple.

What is clear is that Apple’s money back rate is nothing special. However, the way you get it is. In every other credit case that we can find, you get this percentage cash back at the end of the current monthly billing cycle. With Apple Card, you get it back daily.

Apple's details about its daily cash back payments

Apple’s details about its daily cash back payments

Consequently, Apple calls it Daily Cash. And, again unlike some cards, it imposes no maximum limit on how much you can get each day. Significantly, that Daily Cash does not get paid onto your Apple Card. If you buy something, then you have a balance on the card that you owe and the Daily Cash amount does not reduce that.

Instead, you’ll have what amounts to a second card in your Wallet. Apple Pay Cash has been available to customers for a while now, and the Daily Cash is paid into that. If you choose, you can then use that amount to pay off your Apple Pay card, but it’s up to you.

Speaking of paying off

Apple makes a big deal out of how it wants to train people to carry less debt. As it currently stands, Apple will make most of its money out of Apple Card via its interest rates. It does have some income via your use of Apple Pay, but primarily the business is the same as with any other credit card.

Apple’s rates are fairly consistent with the credit card industry, ranging from 13.24 to 24.4 APR depending on credit rating, so it’s in your best interests to clear any outstanding balance as quickly as you can.

You can get overview charts or per-item details about your spending

You can get overview charts or per-item details about your spending

That’s somewhere that Apple Card does help, though, and it does so through several ways. The simplest is just that your iPhone will remind you ahead of any payment due date so that you don’t miss it.

Then at any point, you can tap on the card in your iPhone’s Wallet app and see details of your spending. There are overview summaries, color-coded into types of different spending, or there is as much detail as you want, right down to specific items.

As Apple said at the March 25 presentation, we have all had entries on our credit card bills where we simply could not identify the vendor. You understand that it’s because vendors use different payment processing firms or are simply owned by larger companies you haven’t heard of. Whatever the reason, though, if you aren’t sure what a payment is for, you can tap to learn more.

Such a good touch. If you can't remember a purchase, you can see a map of where you made it.

Such a good touch. If you can’t remember a purchase, you can see a map of where you made it.

If the greater detail doesn’t clarify it, then there’s one more step that will. You can tap on a payment to call up a map showing where you were when you made it.

Nice touches

It’s the little details like that map of where you made the purchase that make this typical of Apple. They have indeed taken something we all use and found ways to make it more useful.

Apple has also designed the software very well, so far as we can tell until the card is launched and we can all use it extensively.

So it’s easy to use, which will mean we use it more both to monitor our financial state and just to buy more things with it. Apple Card is well-thought out and fits particularly neatly into all our Apple Pay options. Plus the lack of typical fees is definitely a bonus, as is the titanium card.

Then there’s the amount of cash you get back. It’s excellent that we’re paid daily, but American Express, for instance, pays back 5 percent —although only during your first three months of use.

So there’s a lot to like about Apple Card, there’s plenty that’s average —and there are still some key facts we don’t know yet.

Keep up with AppleInsider by downloading the AppleInsider app for iOS, and follow us on YouTube, Twitter @appleinsider and Facebook for live, late-breaking coverage. You can also check out our official Instagram account for exclusive photos.

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