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The cards share similar features and redemption options, and both run on the Mastercard payment network, meaning they'll be accepted almost anywhere. But the PayPal Cashback Mastercard® has the edge when it comes to cash back, as there are fewer hoops to jump through to earn the highest reward rates, not to mention a sign-up bonus for new cardholders.
If you're an Apple loyalist, though, the Apple Card can still win out thanks to multiple side perks and features that are hard to find in other cards.
Here’s what to consider as you compare the two cards.
PayPal Cashback Mastercard® vs. Apple Card: How they compare at a glance
PayPal Cashback Mastercard®
Get $100 if you spend $500 within 90 days of opening an account now through 8/31/2022.
The ongoing APR is 16.49%, 25.49% or 28.49%, Variable APR
A variable APR from 13.24% to 24.24% (as of August 2022).
Foreign transaction fee
Instant use after approval
Waiting period for reward redemptions
Rewards are applied to your account as soon as the transaction posts to your account. Actual posting times vary by merchant.
Why the PayPal Cashback Mastercard® is better for cash back
In general, the PayPal Cashback Mastercard® will likely be more rewarding and convenient for most shoppers, for two main reasons: There are fewer hoops to earn elevated rewards, and there's a sign-up bonus.
Fewer hoops to earn elevated rewards
The PayPal Cashback Mastercard® is among a relatively small group of credit cards that earn at least 2% back on every purchase. So right off the bat, it's among the best on the market, and that's before factoring in the 3% back you can earn on purchases made through PayPal, which is accepted by many major retailers online and off.
Meanwhile, the Apple Card's baseline rewards rate is only 1% back. Yes, you can boost that to 2% back if you use the card through Apple Pay, and you can even snag 3% back if you make qualifying purchases with a handful of merchants. But in comparison with the PayPal card, that's pretty narrow and limiting. The Apple Card's website notes that Apple Pay is accepted by more than 85 percent of retailers in the U.S., but you still might encounter smaller retailers who aren't equipped to process it — in which case, again, the best you'll do with your physical Apple Card is 1% back.
Unlike the Apple Card, the PayPal Cashback Mastercard® currently has a modest sign-up bonus: Get $100 if you spend $500 within 90 days of opening an account now through 8/31/2022. (Bonuses and terms are subject to change.)
By comparison, as of this writing, the Apple Card doesn't offer an upfront sign-up bonus, although it does sometimes feature opportunities for existing cardholders to earn more cash back with specific merchants.
Why you might want the Apple Card instead
For most people, the Apple Card won't be as rewarding on a daily basis. But unlike the PayPal Cashback Mastercard®, the Apple Card does offer the following unique features that could be attractive to certain applicants — especially those who are already heavily enmeshed in the Apple ecosystem:
There’s no initial hard inquiry to view your "offer," including your credit limit and APR, meaning you can see what terms you'd qualify for without dinging your credit scores. (Once you officially apply, though, a hard inquiry will be conducted.)
Cash back is accessible essentially on a daily basis. (The waiting period for the PayPal Cashback Mastercard® is three days, which isn't too shabby either, compared with other cash-back cards. But it's still not instant.)
There are no late fees.
You can use the Apple Card to finance Apple purchases in monthly installments, while still earning rewards on those purchases.
There's no foreign transaction fee, so it's better for international travel.
The physical card is made out of titanium, if that's important to you.
Which card should you get?
Yes, the Apple Card could make sense for brand die-hards who're looking for some special features. But in terms of the bottom line, the PayPal Cashback Mastercard® is the clear winner for cash back, as there are fewer obstacles to earning the card's highest rates.