PayPal Cashback vs. Apple Card: PayPal Features Fewer Hoops

The PayPal Cashback is the clear winner when it comes to rewards — though it lacks the unique features of the Apple Card, which a brand loyalist might appreciate more.
Sep 20, 2022

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When choosing between the PayPal Cashback Mastercard® and the Apple Card, your go-to payment method and preference for convenience should factor heavily into the decision.

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.

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®

Apple Card

Annual fee

$0.

$0.

Sign-up bonus

None.

N/A.

Rewards

  • 3% cash back on PayPal purchases.

  • 2% back on all other purchases.

  • 3% cash back on Apple Pay purchases made directly with Apple, as well as Apple Pay purchases made at select merchants. (See table below for a list.)

  • 2% back on all other purchases made via Apple Pay.

  • 1% back on all purchases made with the physical card.

APR

The ongoing APR is 16.49%, 25.49% or 28.49%, Variable APR

The ongoing APR is 13.24%-24.24%, Variable (as of September 2022).

Foreign transaction fee

3%.

None.

Instant use after approval

Yes.

Yes.

Waiting period for reward redemptions

3 days.

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

PayPal Cashback Mastercard
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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.

Rewards

Categories

3% cash back

• Apple Pay purchases made directly with Apple (including Apple stores, within the App Store and for Apple services).

• Uber and Uber Eats purchases via Apple Pay.

• Walgreens and Duane Reade purchases via Apple Pay.

• In-store T-Mobile purchases via Apple Pay.

• Nike purchases via Apple Pay (in U.S. stores, on Nike.com and on Nike apps).

• Exxon and Mobil gas station purchases via Apple Pay. This includes fuel, car washes and convenience store purchases.

• Panera purchases via Apple Pay.

• Ace Hardware purchases via Apple Pay. This includes purchases in the Ace Hardware app, on AceHardware.com and at participating stores nationwide.

2% cash back

All other purchases made via Apple Pay.

1% cash back

All purchases made with the physical Apple Card.

🤓Nerdy Tip

You'll need to have a PayPal account to get the PayPal Cashback Mastercard®, but opening an account is free. And unlike a traditional bank account, you don’t need to meet minimum deposit requirements or pay monthly fees.

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.

  • It's one of the few credit cards that lets you add a "co-owner" (Apple Card's terminology for a joint account holder).

  • 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.

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