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So how did the Apple Card fare in its first year?

Apple Card wasn’t built for the COVID-19 pandemic, but the card’s key features have held up remarkably well one year post-launch. In a new report, industry analyst Ted Rossman breaks down how Apple Card is faring in its first year and how the unforeseen events of 2020 thus far may have improved Apple Card’s performance. Here’s what he finds:

° Apple Pay: Contactless payments have been on the rise in the age of COVID-19 and Apple Card incentivizes mobile payments by offering 2% cash back when a cardholder uses Apple Pay and just 1% when a cardholder pays with the physical card. Apple Pay is the most popular mobile payment method, and according to Visa, contactless usage jumped 150% from March to July 2020. Mobile payment habits may be here to stay, making the broader Apple Pay ecosystem an even larger opportunity than Apple Card itself.

° Cash back and simplicity: Apple’s decision to not make a big bet on any industry, such as travel, may pay off. As almost half of U.S. households have lost income due to the virus, daily cash back on all purchases is a very attractive feature, as is the simplicity – a 2019 survey found 72% of cardholders would rather use the same card or two for everything rather than mixing several different cards to maximize benefits.

° Customer service: Apple Card’s Customer Assistance Program has excelled during the pandemic, as upon request, cardholders have been able to skip payments without interest, potentially for many months in a row. Apple Card’s intention of being a kinder, gentler credit card with no fees, the ease of contacting customer service via text message or phone call, and tools to encourage customers to pay less in interest has shown its value in 2020.

° Expanded rewards: When Apple Card was first announced, its only 3% cash back merchant was Apple itself, but the list has been expanded to include Apple, Duane Reade, Exxon, Mobil, Nike, Panera Bread, T-Mobile, Uber, Uber Eats and Walgreens. In blending the 3% merchants, 2% Apple Pay rewards, and 1% physical card return, most Apple Card users may end up below 2% on average, which lags cards that extend 2% cash back on all purchases. After offering modest welcome bonuses this summer that have now lapsed, higher payouts may be a worthwhile move in the future.

° Year in review: While Apple Card does not offer the best rewards or highest sign-up bonuses, and does not have the lowest interest rates, it does accept a wider range of credit scores than most credit cards and is especially well-suited for a young, tech-savvy audience that is just starting out with credit cards, as well as for Apple aficionados. The hope for Apple and partner Goldman Sachs is to hook this group early and grow with them, including offerings such as phones, entertainment subscriptions, savings accounts, personal loans and peer-to-peer payments.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.