The Apple Card launched a year ago to much hype with its “Daily Cash” program and sleek titanium design, and I was among the first wave of cardholders to apply during the preview period last August.
After it arrived in the mail, I used the Apple Card around New York City for a week to get a feel for how my new card compares to others on the market. I loved receiving cash back at the end of every day, but the card fell short by having a limited amount of 3% cash back categories and limiting 2% cash back to Apple Pay purchases.
Over the past year, the Apple Card has added more rewards partners, allowing cardholders to maximize 3% cash back at retailers like Nike and Walgreens. Plus Apple ran some limited-time offers and even launched a new website to manage the card.
But still, I rarely find myself using my Apple Card despite its updates. Here's how the card has changed over the past year and why I prefer to shop with other cards for the most part.
3% cash back on goods or services purchased directly from Apple (including Apple retail stores, the Apple online store, the App Store, iTunes, Apple Music and other Apple-owned properties) on Uber and UberEats, at Walgreens and Duane Reade stores, on the Walgreens app and on Walgreens.com, in T-Mobile stores, at Nike, at Exxon and Mobil stations and at Panera Bread, 2% cash back on Apple Pay purchases and 1% cash back on all other purchases
10.99% to 21.99% variable
The Apple Card launched with the iPhone user in mind – rewards were geared toward Apple purchases and account management was exclusively from eligible Apple devices. But as time went on, the Apple Card adjusted its rewards program and account features. Here's what's changed over the past year.
The Apple Card originally launched with 3% cash back on goods or services purchased directly from Apple (including Apple retail stores, the Apple online store, the App Store, iTunes, Apple Music and other Apple-owned properties), 2% cash back on Apple Pay purchases and 1% cash back on all other purchases made with the physical card.
Since launch, Apple continues to add new merchants that offer 3% cash back when you use your Apple Card via Apple Pay. New additions include: Uber, UberEats, Walgreens, Duane Reade, T-Mobile, Nike, Exxon and Mobil gas stations and Panera Bread.
At launch, and for a while after, the Apple Card didn't have a welcome bonus offer. This was a setback of the card, especially since so many rewards cards offer bonuses. This past summer, Apple offered a limited-time welcome bonus worth $50 after spending $50 at Walgreens (this offer is no longer valid). While the bonus essentially paid for a $50 Walgreens purchase, it lacked the appeal of a traditional offer that lets you earn rewards for spending anywhere. There is no current bonus offer for the Apple Card.
In July 2020, Apple launched a new website that allows Apple Card customers to access and manage their account online. Previously, cardholders could only access their Apple Card account through the Wallet app on their iPhone and other Apple devices. This website was a no-brainer for Apple since an online website comes standard with cards from other issuers. The one thing Apple is lacking is a dedicated Apple Card mobile app, but perhaps this is in the works.
The Apple Card has made some great additions over the past year, notably adding more 3% rewards categories and creating a website. If you're a loyal fan of the brand and spend a lot on goods and services directly from Apple, this card is for you.
But since I don't regularly purchase Apple products (I rarely upgrade my iPhone and I have no plans of buying a new Mac until my current model breaks), the rewards program doesn't really speak to me. I'll occasionally use my Apple Card for Nike or Walgreens purchases, but beyond that I stick to one of the other 10 cards I have since most offer better rewards on groceries, gas and dining. And thanks to a targeted 4% cash back offer, now my go-to card is the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card.
Information about the Apple Card and Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.