I certainly love Apple products, and I own most of them. But Apple really missed the mark with the physical Apple Card.
I love the perfectly white surface, as well as the beveled etching of the Apple and MasterCard logos. Even the chip connector is remade to be symmetric and balanced.
It is gorgeous. It is a failure of engineering.
Apple struggles with form over function with almost every product it releases. The company’s obsession with shiny, reflective, and thin objects leads to scratches, glare, and bendy iPhones. Granted, the products are also marvels of engineering. The camera in my iPhone has all but replaced my DSLR, my Apple Watch hasn’t left my wrist in years, and I have yet to find a pair of wireless headphones that compare to the AirPods.
The Apple Card doesn’t struggle with form over function. It is form without function.
I wasn’t even aware of the features I want from a credit card until they were taken away from me. Let’s go over some of the issues with the Apple Card.
It blocks RFID
In my wallet I carry an RFID transit card and a keycard to get into my office. I can no longer use them if I leave my Apple Card in my wallet.
I usually pride myself on my 100% success scan rate when boarding the bus, and silently judge people who slow down the process while struggling with the scanners. Now that I have this white piece of titanium in my wallet, I’m constantly fumbling with the scanners and to my horror, holding up the line.
It blocks wireless charging!
I bought a wallet case for my iPhone to try and rectify the blocking issues. That was OK until I got home and dropped my phone on the charger. No wireless charging. A fundamental feature of a company’s products should be that they always work together. I am sure that keeping my metal credit card on the back of my phone didn’t help my cellular connectivity either.
I didn’t realize this would be an issue, but the card is harder and thicker than others. When I put the card into some readers, the tolerances are too thin to accept the card easily. I feel like I’m doing damage to either my card or the reader when this happens.
It doesn’t bend
When removing a card from my wallet it’s nice to flex it a bit—it’s easier to grab that way. Apple’s titanium masterpiece bends for no one. This makes it more difficult to remove quickly. If it’s in front of other cards, it blocks them from being removed as well.
It’s not compatible with my wallet
Apple recommends against storing your card next to other cards, or in a denim or leather wallet. The fact that there is a “How to clean your Apple Card” support article at allspeaks volumes about this card, but the idea that they recommend not storing it in a leather wallet is insanity.
It’s upside down
This is a nitpick, but I’m a particular about how my wallet is organized. I like to pull cards out quickly and easily swipe or insert the them into a reader. Every other card I have includes the chip connector on the left side of the front of the card, and the mag stripe on the top of the back. The Apple Card, however, has a chip connector on the right side of the card and the mag stripe on the bottom of the back. This means I either must put my Apple Card into my wallet the opposite direction of all the other cards or retrain myself to swap it around at checkout. As I mentioned, losing those precious seconds at a checkout counter can cause any amount of embarrassment.
These last two are gripes with the Apple Card account, physical or otherwise.
No Mint integration
I use Mint to track all my expenses. It’s a great unified experience. Everything works with mint… except my Apple Card.
No other perks and rewards
I’m pretty used to getting other perks with my credit cards. Things like car rental insurance coverage and or price-drop monitoring. The Apple Card doesn’t provide anything like that.
It makes sense that Apple wants to move us into a cardless future, but they have an adoption issue. People are accustomed to using physical cards for their transactions. To help usher in this new future, Apple is providing both an incentive and a disincentive to make the move. It is a nice platform of secure instant payments, but they have an adoption issue. Apple Pay isn’t accepted everywhere and people have built habits of using cards for transactions over years and years. To encourage the move they’ve created a beautiful physical card that you can use, but that you’ll never want to.
Getting double the cash back for using your phone only further pushes you into using Apple Pay every time you can. This helps make the status-quo seem even worse than it is, widening the gap between what’s possible and what is easy.
The more comfortable people get with using their phones for payment the better. Apple is enlisting every iPhone user they have in their war against cards. Every time you ask “Do you accept Apple Pay” you’re sending a signal to the merchant and helping them win their war. I like paying with my phone, but until it’s accepted everywhere I’ll be sticking with my Alaska card for now.
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