Apple unveils the Apple Card |

Apple unveils the highly-secure Apple Card

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Apple Card

An Apple Pay–centric card with rewards and no fees

Apple announced its foray into the consumer credit space on March 25, 2019, during its services event. In collaboration with Goldman Sachs, the tech giant unveiled its predictably sleek Apple Card, currently slated for release during the first half of August 2019.

While full details of the card are unavailable, the few features reveals the Apple Card as a market frontrunner when it comes to benefits like security. To get a sense of just how Apple Card‘s security features differ from other cards on the market, we reached out to an expert in the field of card security, Eric Cowperthwaite, vice president of Identity Services at Herjavec Group. Cowperthwaite has more than 25 year’s experience in the security space and got his start before cybersecurity become a household term.

Update: Apple Card soft launches

Starting August 6th, Apple began rolling out application invites to a select number of users who signed up for Apple Card alerts. Not every user who signed up for alerts has received an invite – and Apple hasn’t said how many are invited – so it’s unknown if more users can expect to receive invites in the days to come. The full launch of the Apple Card is still listed for late August.

But first, here’s a rundown of how the Apple Card stacks up to other cashback credit cards.

Apple cash back infographic

What’s the big deal?

Name-brand aside, the Apple Card positions itself as incredibly consumer friendly. It’s designed to help tech-savvy cardholders develop stronger financial habits and also offers rewards on purchases, similar to the high-limit, no-fee Petal Cash Back Visa® Card. Plus, Apple promises the Apple Card to be one of the most secure on the market.

“In general, Touch ID and Face ID is [sic] much easier for the end user. So one of Apple’s approaches to security has been to make stronger security capabilities also easier to use.”

What sets the Apple Card apart?

  • Apple-approved security.
    The Apple Card sports a slew of security features backed by Apple’s established security technologies, including facial recognition.
  • No fees.
    The Apple Card promises no late fees, no annual fees, no international fees and no over-the-limit fees – quite a rarity in the credit card market. Though missed payments still result in additional interest on your balance.
  • Low interest.
    Apple promises interest rates that are “among the lowest in the industry,” listing 13.24% to 24.24% variable APR as of March 2019. Apple’s Wallet app will also show you how much accrued interest you face in a given month, depending on your card’s balance.
  • Cashback rewards.
    The Apple Card‘s rewards system offers what Apple’s calling Daily Cash. You’ll earn 2% Daily Cash on all purchases using your Apple Card through Apple Pay and 3% on purchases made this way with Apple directly. Purchases using your physical Apple Card earn 1% Daily Cash.
  • Unique reward redemption.
    Unlike other cashback programs, Apple posts Daily Cash directly to your Apple Card account — as the name suggests — every day, allowing you to spend your rewards almost immediately. Redeem Daily Cash earned using Apple Pay or send it to other Apple users through the Messages app.
  • Balance and spending tracking.
    Apple logs and categorizes Apple Card purchases for your review. Plus, the Wallet app sends weekly and monthly spending summaries to help you better understand your spending.

A security expert weighs in

Apple extends to the Apple Card its long commitment to privacy and security. We asked Eric Cowperthwaite, Vice President of Identity Services at Herjavec Group, just what to expect when it comes to the efficacy of the Apple Card‘s security features.

A talk with Eric Cowperthwaite, Vice President of Identity Services at Herjavec Group, and Jon Brodsky, CEO of Finder US

“Protecting physical access to your card is very important. And this is why Apple is touting the fact that it doesn’t have any information on it, except for the chip, which means you have to do chip-and-PIN or chip-and-signature. Good idea.”

Can the Apple Card measure up?

While the Apple Card has a lot going for it — including an enormous pre-existing potential userbase — there are plenty of other terrific credit card options out there. Here are a few of the factors that might just rankle Apple’s plans.

  • Average reward rates.
    As far as cashback cards go, 2% is only slightly above average, especially considering that Apple Pay acceptance is limited. If you use the physical Apple Card for purchases, you earn only 1% cash back on your purchases.
  • Constrained rewards program.
    As of May 2019, it sounds like Apple’s Daily Cash provides few opportunities beyond cash back to your account. What’s more, you’ll need Apple Pay to take advantage of Apple’s rewards structure. If you’re a frequent flyer and you’re looking for a card to help you earn miles, this won’t be the card for you.
  • It’s not out yet!
    Given we’re several weeks out from launch, we’ll still have to see just how well the Apple Card fares once it’s in consumers’ hands.

“…the card information is stored in a sequestered physical component on the phone. There is a linkage made to the issuing bank. And you are not actually giving them your card number […]”

Eric Cowperthwaite

Eric Cowperthwaite

VP of Identity Services Herjavec Group

As VP of Identity Services, Eric’s core responsibilities will include hiring, and retaining, top talent and investing in training, with a commitment to improving HG service delivery methodologies. Eric is a veteran security leader with 30+ years of experience across multiple industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, state and local government, and financial services.

Previously, Eric has served as a CISO at Providence Health & Services, Global Director of Information Security at Esterline Technologies, and has held a variety of Professional Services roles with expertise in risk management, governance, system engineering, and operational delivery.

With deep connections to industry-leading Identity technology providers, Eric maintains a breadth of competencies in the Identity market. Eric has also served in the US Army for 10 years and upon returning to Sacramento, CA, he earned his Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from CSU.

Bottom line

Apple hopes to shake up the playing field by offering a consumer-friendly, tech-forward credit card. Given Apple’s history, they might have just enough clout to make an impact. Keep an eye on the Apple Card if you’re an Apple enthusiast looking for a simple-to-use, no-fee credit card.

Advice for those using plastic credit:

For consumers opting out of digital wallets and sticking to plastic, Cowperthwaite advises you to consider two components of card security.

  1. Protect physical access to your card, ensuring no one has the information to gain access to your account.
  2. Consider where you use your card and where your magnetic stripe is being swiped.

“Be really thoughtful about not using an ATM, for example, that’s just in the wall of a building out on the street because it’s extremely easy to install a card skimmer on those ATMs,” Cowperthwaite explains. “It’s the same issue with POS devices. Small convenience stores like the one down your street, and I don’t mean to pick on those guys but this is the reality, is where most POS card skimmers get installed.”

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