Posted by William Charles on March 26, 2019
Credit Cards

Published on March 26th, 2019 | by William Charles

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Five Better Alternatives To The New Apple Credit Card

Yesterday saw Apple release details of the new co-branded credit card it’s launching with Goldman Sachs. As with most Apple products this card is getting a lot of hype and attention, I thought it would be worth pointing out several cards that are better than this card and the reasons why. Before we get started let’s take a look at the basics of the new Apple card:

  • Card earns at the following rates:
    • 3% cash back on Apple purchases and services (including the app store, Apple Music payments, etc.)
    • 2% cash back on all Apple Pay purchases
    • 1% cash back when using the physical card
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Will run on the Mastercard payment network

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve

Read our full review of this card

One of the key selling points for the Apple card is that it earns 2% cash back on all Apple Pay purchases. The altitude Reserve earns 3x points on all mobile payment purchases (including Apple Pay). These points are worth 1.5¢ each when using the real-time mobile rewards future. This means this card effectively earns 4.5% cash back on all mobile payment purchases, more than double what Apple is offering.

The downside to this card is that the annual fee is $400. Keep in mind there are a few things that come with this annual fee:

  • Sign up bonus of 50,000 points after $4,500 in spend within the first 90 days
  • $325 in annual travel credits
  • Priority Pass select membership

The second two benefits you receive on an annual basis and will at least partially offset the annual if not offset it entirely. If you don’t value those benefits at $400 or more then it’s a matter of working out how much you’d spend annually on the Apple card to determine if the Altitude Reserve card is better. For example let’s say I value the travel credits at $260 (80% of face value) and the Priority Pass select membership at $50, the annual fee I’d effectively be paying on this card is $90. This card earns 4.5% cash back vs the 2% on the Apple card. My break even point would be $3,600 in spend, if I spent more than that the Altitude Reserve card would be better than the Apple card. Keep in mind I’m not even factoring in the sign up bonus worth $750.

Fidelity 2% Cash Back Card

Fidelity offers a card that earns 2% cash back on all purchases, this card is issued by Elan services (subsidiary of U.S. Bank). The card also has no annual fee, but it does come with a 1% foreign transaction fee. The upside to this card over the Apple card is that it earns 2% on all purchases (rather than just Apple Pay purchases), comes with a sign up bonus of $100 and also has frequent targeted spending bonuses. You’ll need to ask yourself how many transactions you’ll actually be completing overseas using Apple Pay to determine what card is better.

Citi Double Cash Card

Similar to the Fidelity card listed above but without the sign up bonus. The real value of the Citi Double Cash card over the Apple card is the fact that the Citi DC offers price protection. This means if you make a purchase and then see the same identical item on sale for less within 60 days of purchase Citi will refund the difference. Citi also offers an extended warranty benefit on this card as well.

Alliant Cashback 3%/2.5% Cash Back

The Alliant cashback card earns 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year of being a card member and then 2.5% cash back on purchases from the second year onwards. The card does have a $59 annual fee that is waived the first year. This card also has no foreign transaction fees. From the second year onwards you’d need to spend more than $11,800 on this card to make up for the $59 annual fee compared to a flat 2% cash back card.

PayPal Cashback Card

This card earns 2% cash back on all purchases with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. Very similar to the Apple card but earns 2% back on all purchases rather than just Apple Pay purchases.

Our Verdict

For the vast majority of people the Apple credit card will not be the best option out there, there are obviously some fringe use cases but the majority of people that sign up for this card will be doing it due to the Apple branding. There is nothing wrong with that, but you should at least be aware that better options exist. If you’re thinking about getting this card I urge you to track how often Apple Pay is actually accepted before applying when it eventually launches.

For a lot of people none of the above cards will even be the best option. To get the most bang for your spend in general you’ll want to focus solely on using your credit card spend to meet minimum spend requirements. We list the best credit card bonuses here. Unlike other sites we do not use credit card affiliate links so we can remain unbiased and recommend the best cards/offers rather than the ones that pay us the most. The other thing worth remembering is that credit cards have very high APRs, so you’ll want to make sure you always pay your credit card in full. If that’s something you don’t feel like you’d be able to do comfortably then you’ll be better off with no credit card at all.



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Dan - Legal Bank Robber
Dan - Legal Bank Robber

Imagine if this went into r/apple the apple warriors would want Will’s head

Dheeraj
Dheeraj

Hahah. Does somebody want to take a shot?

Dan - Legal Bank Robber
Dan - Legal Bank Robber

Ignorance is Bliss.

LC
LC

post it there its relevant lol

sevillada
sevillada

we can still deliver it as a sign of good gesture

Thomas
Thomas

dphili?

Dan - Legal Bank Robber
Dan - Legal Bank Robber

Ya? Thomas

Ryan Goldstein

You might also want to mention the US Bank Cash+ card. Electronics Stores is one of the selectable 5% categories, and ‘Apple Store’ is specifically mentioned in the list of merchants as a part of that category.

LC
LC

this alone destroys the apple card.

Brandon
Brandon

Apple store is the physical store. Doesn’t include iTunes, App store, etc. Not 100% better. And there is a cap on the Cash+.

Celia
Celia

If you’re buying at iTunes or the App store at full price, you’re doing it wrong. iTunes cards are routinely 10-15% off, sometimes even 20%.

Scott Sieron
Scott Sieron

Also an Apple Music subscriber could select TV, Internet, Streaming Services as their other 5% category, if they weren’t so inclined to buy discounted iTunes gift cards.

LC
LC

actually if you use this for apple branding there is something wrong with that, as this is very dumb.

But i would say these same people are probably the ones that like to carry interest and fund this game for us, so go ahead apple fanboys, get the card!

.. sorry im salty.

Stan
Stan

but really, many, many cards with any type of sign up bonus are better than the apple card

LC
LC

yep, honestly it comes down to how much time you want to spend micromanaging category bonuses… personally, id rather spend 20% of the time and just do new card sign up bonuses. Although I will say sometimes i like the category spend when you can automate things, like 5% US Bank cash plus card on utilities.

Kevin
Kevin

You forgot the PayPal Cashback card that’s also 2% cash back and no foreign transaction fees.

sevillada
sevillada

I always forget about paypal…maybe because they are evil

Abe
Abe

The PayPal Cashback was indeed a killer card when they allowed you to use it as a backup funding source of the 1% debit business card. Sadly that came to an end a few days ago. Too bad, I did MS the heck out of it while that lasted.

K-Man
K-Man

I’d add the Uber card to the list for anyone tempted by the no FTF. The bonus categories are perfect for travel. Combined the Uber card with the Fidelity or Citi card and you’ve got a two card combo that would be hard to beat for anybody not chasing bonuses or staring at award charts.

AB
AB

But it’s shiny and white!

gary
gary

two other cards Bank of america. Those with Premier Honors members at the highest level get 2.63% on all purchases, Also the those Premier Honors members at the highest level can get 5.5% if apple pay purchases count in the online shopping category up to $2500 in purchases per quarter

Jeremy
Jeremy

@DOC,

Seriously! How is this not included as an option?

Vic
Vic

“bUt ITs APPLE itS tHe BEsT *#+]%+%”

Alright I’m just kidding. I am an Apple fan myself. The card obviously targets average joes who plan to make the least amount of effort managing their spending habit and most importantly, carry balance.

I believe the app will be build around making carrying balance (aka making only partial payment) a really straightforward, even pleasant user experience.
“Wow, I can just pay part of it, then why pay it off?”
“Apple re-invented credit card!”

This card will be a success like most of Apple’s products, and it’ll be a money maker for Goldman Sachs and Apple.

And it will not be in our wallet and our iPhone because we are not the target audience.

Celia
Celia

I hope Apple makes a ton of money off it, keep that stock price up.

A M
A M

Why not innovate on your products instead, Apple, and stop trying to milk your customers for every last dollar? Literally now

bob cobb
bob cobb

How does this negatively affect apple customers? Its a decent cash back card with great security. Lets be honest, its a better cash back card than the average credit card user has in their wallet. As a shareholder Im biased and happy to see additional revenue, but I don’t understand why it should be seen as a negative from the company.

appl
appl

Going into captive finance is rarely a sign of corporate strength. Companies do it when they’ve few other options for growth. Macys credit card now delivers over 40% of the company’s profit. While yes that could be good to some shareholders, it’s important to recognize they are leaning on the CC for profits since sales in the stores themselves are dismal. Apple, now, follows the same path.

They are too incompetent to resolve the iphone hardware and software issues that could allow them to innovate. Not individually incompetent employees, but incompetent corporate bureaucracy. So, they are resorting to throwing a bunch of services shit at the wall to see if something sticks.

A smart, seasoned investor would respond to Apple’s CC move with an “oh shit” reaction. It’s not a sign of strength, so much as desperation.

A M
A M

The product is just a way (another one) for Apple to cash in on its brand name among Apple loyalists. It’s not a negative necessarily, depending on who you are and what you gain and lose from this. I for one don’t care for Apple products anymore. And I’d rather see effort expended on introducing new innovative products, creating new product spaces entirely, or just fixing the many flaws in existing Apple stuff

Mr. Meow
Mr. Meow

I CAN HAS iCREDIT???

Austin
Austin

Don’t forget the Amex Business Gold Card earns 4X MR at Apple (up to $150k), which is effectively 5% cash back when paired with the Amex Schwab Platinum, or more when transferring points out. Just set your 4X category “Select Computer Hardware, Software, and Cloud Computing” So many better options out there!

Orin
Orin

William Charles other key to Citi DC is extended warranty. One of the best.

Jab
Jab

If you compare all perks it may be decent. There are not a lot 0 af cards with no foreign transaction fees which is not amex meaning its accepted in the outer world. Plus cashback and titanium card and its something to consider. As all rounder card I’d compare it to uber card

Snorlax
Snorlax

0 AF/0 FTF cards are really a dime a dozen now, they usually earn 1.5% cb.

PayPal MasterCard earns 2% cb and is a 0 AF/0 FTF card.

oogaboogabooga
oogaboogabooga

paypal mastercard 2% everywhere, uber card. It’s best to buy gift cards for Apple store purchases.

Vic
Vic

All capital one is zero FTF.

Charlie
Charlie

I’m surprised that the PenFed Power Cash Rewards 2% and PayPal 2% didn’t make the list of alternatives, as both of these cards are better than Citi Double Cash 1+1% and Fidelity 2%.

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