The Apple Card is finally here—for some of us. Today, people who were accepted into the early preview program got an invite and 10 videos detailing how to use the card itself.
Why 10 videos? Shouldn’t using a credit card be intuitive by now since most of us have been shackled with one since early adulthood? Well, Apple clearly intends this credit card to primarily be a digital one, and that means there’s a bit of a learning curve—particularly if you’ve never glommed onto using Apple Pay, the Wallet app, or the ability to pay back friends via Messages. So some videos, like the in-store payment and online payment clips, are kind of unnecessary if you’re familiar with contactless payments. But others offer a glimpse into what the world might look like if one day we abandoned physical credit cards altogether. Notably, you have to apply for the card from the Wallet app itself, and you get customer support via messaging in the Wallet app.
Take Apple’s video on how to find your credit card number. Normally, you’d just, well, look at your card to find the number, CVV number, and expiration date. However, according to the Apple Card Customer Agreement, the physical titanium card is available “upon your request” and Apple “reserve[s] the right to reject any request for physical Card that [it] deems unreasonable or abusive.” Gizmodo reached out to Apple to verify whether this means you won’t be given a physical card by default, and we’ll update if we hear back. That said, if you don’t get a physical companion card automatically, then it makes sense why you’d need a 48-second video about how to find some vital information. Likewise, if you do happen to get a physical card, Apple’s prioritized security, so there’s no card number, CVV number, or expiration date on that either.
There are also videos explaining Apple Card-specific features, like how to view your Daily Cash (Apple’s cashback program), how to check spending, make payments, activate physical cards depending on your iPhone model, and how to get 24/7 support.
Generally speaking, there are a few takeaways—everything centers around the Wallet app, you’ll have to use Face ID authentication a lot (so hopefully you got a good scan), and if you do get the Apple Card, you’re incentivized to buy into that cashless, possibly card-less life.
There’s also some fine print not addressed in the videos. First off, nowhere in the card agreement or on Apple’s site does it indicate what credit score you need to be approved. Given Apple’s emphasis on checking spending and giving users the ability to see how interest impacts their payments, a charitable reading of these features is Apple wants you to build some healthy financial habits. But applying for new cards generally means a hard inquiry on your credit score—and getting rejected isn’t great for anyone trying to build or repair their credit. We reached out to Apple to see if it would provide more clarity on what sort of credit score you’d need to be approved but didn’t immediately receive a response.
As mentioned earlier, it’s also unclear whether you have to request the physical companion card or if it comes included by default. That, and there’s no stated timeline of when you might receive the physical card either. Apple Pay and other contactless payment options are increasingly available, but it does limit you if you frequent shops that are cash-only or don’t take Apple Pay. Plus, if you jailbreak your phone, the cardmember agreement says you could bork your access to the Card itself. And like other Apple products—cough, the Apple Watch, cough—it’s really only aimed at Apple loyalists. There’s no official way for Android users to use the card, and all the benefits are dependent on having an iPhone. Should you decide you need to switch to Android, you’d basically have to cancel the card—which could have a negative impact on your credit, depending on other factors.
That said, the Card does have its benefits. Zero penalties and annual fees are legitimately good, as are increased privacy features. You just also have to accept that you’ll probably need to watch 10 minutes of video to know how everything works and that you’ll probably never leave the Apple ecosystem. Ever.
Update, 08/06/2019. 1:37pm:
According to Apple, customers will be asked during the signup process if they want a titanium physical companion card. The only information required is an address, and it should take about 2-3 days to arrive. Apple anticipates nearly everyone will want the physical card, as many institutions such as sit-down restaurants, may not have widely integrated Apple Pay.