How the Apple Card Stacks up Against the Competition

In a crowded and fiercely competitive market, it helps to compare the Apple Card's features with some of the best cards available.
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At its core, the Apple Card is a cash-back credit card. The $0-annual-fee card offers the following rewards:

  • Via Apple Pay: 3% back on all purchases made directly with Apple (including Apple stores, the App Store and for other Apple services); 3% at selected merchants and through selected apps; and 2% back on all other purchases made through Apple Pay.

  • Via the physical card: 1% back on all purchases.

There's no massive sign-up bonus or 0% intro APR offer, but the Apple Card's potential 2% cash-back rate on many purchases equals what you'll find on some of the best flat-rate cards available — assuming you can use Apple Pay liberally.

Here's how the card compares with some of those best-in-class options.

🤓Nerdy Tip

In summer 2020, the card unveiled some modest limited-time bonus offers worth $50. Also at that time, the card rolled out interest-free financing options for a multitude of Apple-branded devices and accessories.

Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card
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Annual fee: $0.

Rewards: 2% cash back on all spending: 1% when you make the purchase and another 1% when you pay your bill.

Sign-up bonus: None

APR: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 17.74%-27.74% Variable APR.

How it compares with the Apple Card: When it comes to flat-rate cash-back cards, the Citi® Double Cash Card remains one of the best. Use it anywhere and earn the same high rewards rate back on everything — no Apple Pay point-of-sale required. Plus, you'll get an intro APR promotion. There is, however, a minimum required redemption of $25. The Apple Card has no such minimum.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
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Annual fee: $95.

Rewards: 2 miles back on every purchase.

Sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

APR: The ongoing APR is 18.99%-26.99% Variable APR.

How it compares with the Apple Card: On the plus side, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card earns a high flat rate back on every purchase — no Apple Pay use needed — not to mention a large sign-up bonus. On the minus side, you'll have to pay to carry the card, and if you don't travel much, a cash-back card like the Apple Card will be a more flexible option.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex
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Annual fee: $0.

Rewards: 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined quarterly spending on bonus categories that rotate every three months (activation required); 5% on travel purchased through Chase; 3% on dining at restaurants and purchases at drugstores; and 1% on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 18.74%-27.49% Variable APR.

How it compares with the Apple Card: If you don't mind keeping track of rotating bonus categories and a few permanent bonus categories, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ can potentially be more lucrative than the Apple Card, and — again — it doesn't require you to use Apple Pay to earn bonus rates. But a card like this requires more maintenance than a typical flat-rate cash-back card, and unlike the Apple Card, you'll face quarterly spending caps.

PayPal Cashback Mastercard®

PayPal Cashback Mastercard
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Annual fee: $0.

Rewards: 3% cash back on purchases via PayPal, 2% back on all other purchases.

How it compares with the Apple Card: The PayPal Cashback Mastercard® earns 2% back on most purchases, with the exception of purchases made directly through PayPal, which will earn 3% back. You must redeem your rewards into a PayPal account, but that's free to set up and you can transfer your earnings at no additional cost from PayPal directly into your bank account. As with the Apple Card, there's no intro APR period, although the Apple Card does offer interest-free financing on select Apple purchases.

U.S. Bank Shopper Cash Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card - NerdWallet Exclusive

U.S. Bank Shopper Cash Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card  - NerdWallet Exclusive
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Annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $95.

Rewards:

  • 6% cash back on your first $1,500 in combined eligible purchases each quarter at two retailers you choose (from a list of 24, including Apple; see below for full list).

  • 3% cash back on your first $1,500 in eligible purchases each quarter in your choice of one everyday category.

  • 1.5% cash back on all other eligible purchases.

  • 5.5% cash back on prepaid car and hotel reservations booked directly in the Rewards Center.

  • Ace Hardware.

  • Apple.

  • Amazon.com.

  • Anthropologie.

  • Bed, Bath, & Beyond.

  • Best Buy.

  • Chewy.com.

  • Crate & Barrel.

  • Disney.

  • Home Depot.

  • Ikea.

  • Kohl's.

  • Lowe's.

  • Lululemon.

  • Macy's.

  • Menards.

  • Nordstrom.

  • Pottery Barn.

  • QVC.

  • Restoration Hardware.

  • Target.

  • Walmart.

  • Wayfair.com.

  • Williams Sonoma.

Sign-up bonus: Get a $250 bonus after you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening.

APR: The ongoing APR is 18.24%-28.24% Variable APR.

How it compares with the Apple Card: The U.S. Bank Shopper Cash Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card - NerdWallet Exclusive can earn double the cash-back rate on Apple purchases that you'd earn with the Apple Card. But you’ll only be able to earn the 6% bonus rate on up to $1,500 combined spending between your two chosen retailers for the quarter. Once the cap is met, the rewards rate drops to 1.5%. That base cash-back rate of 1.5% is also what you’ll get if you forget to select Apple as a bonus category. Apple devotees uninterested in tracking bonus categories — and paying this card’s annual fee — should look into other credit cards that earn rewards at Apple.

Other potential alternatives

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
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Annual fee: $400.

Rewards:

  • 5 points per dollar spent points on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center.

  • 3 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases.

  • 3 points per dollar spent on mobile wallet purchases.

  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

How it compares with the Apple Card: Given the premium annual fee you'll pay to hold the U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card, this isn't an apples-to-apples comparison. But you'll get an annual travel credit of $325 — which significantly reduces the effective annual fee — not to mention a large sign-up bonus: Earn an enrollment bonus of 50,000 points worth $750 on travel. Just spend $4,500 in the first 90 days of account opening. And you'll generally outearn the Apple Card when it comes to most mobile wallet purchases. Points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel through U.S. Bank, meaning your effective rewards rate on mobile purchases can be as high as 4.5%.

Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Annual fee: $0.

Rewards: 2% cash back on all purchases.

How it compares with the Apple Card: The Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card earns 2% cash back on everything you buy, including non-Apple Pay purchases. There are several redemption options — but if you want the highest value for your rewards, you must deposit them into an eligible Fidelity account, such as a brokerage account, retirement account, 529 college savings plan or HSA.

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