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How the Apple Card Stacks up Against the Competition

In a crowded and fiercely competitive market, it helps to compare features with some of the best cards in its class.
April 2, 2019
Cash Back Credit Cards, Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards
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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 sign-up bonus or 0% intro APR offer, but the Apple Card’s 2% cash-back rate on most 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.

» MORE: Should you get the Apple Card? What to know before you bite

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

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% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR.

How it compares with the Apple Card: When it comes to flat-rate cash-back cards, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer remains the pound-for-pound champ. 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.

» MORE: See NerdWallet’s review of the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

Annual fee: $0 the first year, then $99.

Rewards: 3% cash back on all purchases for the first year, 2.5% back on everything after that.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 3% cash back in the first year.

APR: The ongoing APR is 12.49% - 14.99% Variable.

How it compares with the Apple Card: On the one hand, the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card offers an unbeatable rewards rate for cards in its class, topping not only the Apple Card, but also most other flat-rate rewards cards on the market. However, you must join Alliant’s credit union to get it, and you’ll also need to spend enough each year — around $4,000 in Year Two and beyond — to make the annual fee worth it.

» MORE: See NerdWallet’s review of the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card 

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95.

Rewards: 2 miles back on every purchase.

Sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel.

APR: The ongoing APR is 17.49% - 24.74% 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.

» MORE: See NerdWallet’s review of the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Chase Freedom®

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).

Sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

APR: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 16.74% - 25.49% Variable APR.

How it compares with the Apple Card: If you don’t mind keeping track of rotating bonus categories, the Chase Freedom® 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 a bit more maintenance than a typical flat-rate cash-back card, and unlike the Apple Card, you’ll face quarterly spending caps.

» MORE: See NerdWallet’s review of the Chase Freedom®

Barclaycard Financing Visa®

Annual fee: $0.

Rewards: None.

Sign-up bonus: None.

How it compares with the Apple Card: Formerly known as the Barclaycard Visa with Apple Rewards before the Apple Card was introduced, the Barclaycard Financing Visa® no longer earns rewards. But it does still feature deferred interest offers on Apple purchases for new cardholders, which could help you pay off a large Apple-related expense over time. Other than that, the Barclaycard Financing Visa® doesn’t offer much else. The Apple Card doesn’t come with any introductory financing offers, but it does earn flexible cash back, to be used whenever and however you like — including toward Apple products if that’s your thing.

» MORE: See NerdWallet’s review of the Barclaycard Financing Visa® 

PayPal Cashback Mastercard®

Annual fee: $0

Rewards: 2% cash back on all purchases.

How it compares with the Apple Card: The PayPal Cashback Mastercard® earns 2% back on everything, whether you use Apple Pay, PayPal or good old-fashioned swiping for the purchase. 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 sign-up bonus, nor is there an intro APR period.

» MORE: See NerdWallet’s review of the PayPal Cashback Mastercard® 

Other potential alternatives

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.

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card

Annual fee: $400.

Rewards:

  • 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-oranges 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. And you’ll outearn the Apple Card specifically in the category of 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%.

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