The Apple Card is not magic

A select set of consumers are finally starting to get their Apple Cards, and the web is overflowing with banal analysis about every mundane detail. Did you hear the one about the guy with a credit score of 620 who got approved? Gasp!

Look, I get it. This is Apple, after all. Anything the company does gets dissected, fawned over, argued about, and hot-taked into oblivion. But the Apple Card is often mistakenly considered to be far more noteworthy than it is: outside of the fact that the Apple Card is, well, from Apple, it’s not very remarkable at all.

Just another MasterCard

At its core, the Apple Card is just another cash-back credit card. It’s a MasterCard. It’s issued by a huge multinational bank (Goldman Sachs). It offers interest rates that are higher than many credit cards, but on the low end of the scale for similar cash-back cards.

And just like cash-back cards from Citi, Chase, Bank of America, or Wells Fargo, lots of people will get approved for them. People with poor credit will get low limits and high interest rates, people will good credit will get high limits and low interest rates. People who really should not open another line of credit will totally be able to. None of this is new.


Flip it over and you’ll see Goldman Sachs and MasterCard logos.

Some people will get a credit limit too low to outright purchase a brand-new, high-end iPhone. This is not a grand internal inconsistency or scandalous oversight. In fact, it’s not even remarkable.

For starters, a new iPhone XR with trade-in can easily cost less than $500, easily under the worst credit limit. (You’ve got a trade-in if you have an Apple Card, because you had to have an iPhone to apply for the card.) What’s more, there are many very popular Apple products one might buy with a low credit limit, like AirPods, an Apple TV, or an Apple Watch. And of course, even a high-end iPhone can easily be purchased on an installment plan like the iPhone Upgrade Program.

Ignoring all that, yes, of course, people with low credit scores are going to have credit limits too low to fully pay for a brand new high-end iPhone XS. As expected. Because it’s just a credit card. They’re all like that.

You shouldn’t expect the Apple Card to do anything from the credit-card side that other cards don’t do. There are cards with better rates. There are cards with better rewards. There are other cards with lots of privacy-minded features. There are other cards with virtual numbers. There are other cards with no fees. There are other metal cards.