As a computer company, Apple crafts some truly attractive pieces of hardware.
Its co-branded credit card — the Barclaycard Visa® with Apple Rewards — is not one of them.
If you’re an Apple fan to your core, you might be tempted to bite, for two reasons: The card can help you finance the purchase of a brand-new Apple product, which can come with a hefty price tag. And it offers rewards that could help defray the cost of future Apple purchases.
Plus, with an annual fee of $0, it won’t cost you anything to carry it.
But if you’re seeking generous rewards, a true 0% introductory APR offer and a slew of side perks, here’s why the Barclaycard Visa® with Apple Rewards may not compute.
1. Rewards are inflexible
- 3 points for every dollar spent at Apple
- 2 points for every dollar spent at restaurants
- 1 point for every dollar spent on everything else
Points are worth a penny apiece — but you can’t redeem them for cash. Instead, you get gift cards for either Apple or iTunes, depending on which you selected when you applied for the card. (If you selected neither, you get Apple Store gift cards.)
Point redemptions are automatic, but they won’t start until you’ve accumulated at least 2,500 points, good for a $25 gift card. One bit of decent news: You’re allowed to change your denomination preference. For example, if you prefer to wait until you accrue 10,000 points for a $100 gift card, you can.
Three points for every dollar spent at Apple isn’t bad, given how rare it is to find any discount at all on fresh-from-the-tree Apple products. But instead of a credit card that rewards you solely with gift cards that can be used only in certain places, consider cash-back credit cards that allow you to spend your rewards however and wherever you wish. In addition, most good cash-back cards offer sign-up bonuses; the Barclaycard Visa® with Apple Rewards does not.
2. Interest may be deferred, but not waived
It’s true that the Barclaycard Visa® with Apple Rewards can help you finance an expensive Apple laptop, but be aware that you’re not getting a true introductory 0% APR offer.
The ongoing APR is 16.24%, 22.24% or 28.99% variable based on your creditworthiness. However, the card advertises “special financing on purchases made at Apple” — windows of time during which interest will be deferred (not waived), based on how much you spend on a qualifying purchase:
- Less than $499: You’ll get 180 days to pay the balance without interest.
- $499 to less than $999: You’ll get 365 days to pay the balance without interest.
- $999 and over: You’ll get 540 days (about 18 months) to pay the balance without interest.
Note that these are deferred interest offers. That means you’ll owe no interest on your purchase only if you pay it off in full during the promotional period. If any balance remains when your promotion ends, you’ll be charged interest retroactively for the full amount of the transaction, going back to the date of purchase. That could be a lot of money.
A better choice might be a card with a true 0% introductory APR period, during which no interest accumulates on purchases at all. Even if you’re still carrying a balance when an introductory 0% APR period ends, you’ll owe interest only on what’s left.
3. Exclusions abound in the fine print
Some rules to keep in mind with the Barclaycard Visa® with Apple Rewards:
- The deferred-interest offers above apply to eligible Apple purchases made only at Apple.com, Apple Store locations, or via phone at 1-800-MY-APPLE, and only to purchases made within the first 30 days of account opening. Apple products bought at, say, Walmart don’t qualify.
- The 3 points per dollar on Apple purchases also applies only at Apple.com or Apple Store locations, 1-800-MY-APPLE and the iTunes Store.
- You can’t use the deferred-interest offers on iTunes purchases. So if you were planning on downloading Judas Priest’s entire discography and having six months to pay it off before interest charges hit, “you’ve got another thing comin’.”
4. Side perks are paltry
The Barclaycard Visa® with Apple Rewards does advertise “$0 fraud liability,” but you’d be hard-pressed to find a credit card these days that doesn’t offer at least that basic level of protection.
In fact, if you’re not approved for the Visa Signature version of this card — and the terms and conditions note that’s a possibility — you’ll miss out on a wide range of valuable perks.
And speaking of missing out, Apple acolytes might be disappointed to learn that they’ll get little if anything in the way of exclusive access to Apple products or events. No presale deals. No advance tickets to special Apple gatherings. No sign-up bonus, coupons or incentives beyond the baseline rewards rate.
5. It’s just not a good everyday card
You know that infinite “spinning pinwheel” icon you occasionally get when your Apple laptop freezes up? Using the Barclaycard Visa® with Apple Rewards as your primary credit card would have the same effect on your wallet. You’d be locked into a card with limited reward tiers, poor redemption options, and very few incentives or side benefits. Talk about spinning your wheels.
There’s little reason to use the card beyond its primary purpose of helping you finance a shiny new computer from Apple — and even on that front, you can find cards with more generous terms and reward structures.