Apple Card, the tech giant’s innovative take on virtual (and physical, for that matter) credit cards, has begun rolling out to users who previously expressed interest by signing up to be notified on the card’s website.
Users Apple notifies of the card’s availability can sign up for the virtual card from within the Wallet app on their iPhones, and they can also order the physical card from there, though that will obviously take a bit of time to arrive.
Once you’ve signed up for the virtual card, though, you can start using it right away if approved.
It’s a gradual rollout, and Apple hasn’t explained its criteria for selecting the first customers to receive the card—it seems it’s random. But sign-ups for the card are expected to open up to everyone who is interested by the end of August. Well, it will open up to everyone in the United States, at least—the card isn’t yet available in other regions like Europe or Latin America yet, though Apple is in talks with partners about making that happen in the future.
In the US, the card is backed by Goldman Sachs—a bank that usually is not focused on consumer credit cards. When a user signs up to use the Apple Card, they’re asked to provide their income, birthday, address, and the last four digits of their Social Security number. This is used to determine whether the user is eligible. Once they start using the card, Goldman Sachs and issuer MasterCard can only use data about the user’s purchase for operations purposes like credit reporting.
TechCrunch writer Matthew Panzarino gained early access to the card and has written detailed early impressions about the sign-up process, the interface, and how the card works. It’s worth a read if you’re on the fence about signing up once it becomes available to you.
The Apple Card has no fees and an unusually simplistic rewards structure. Users get 3% back on purchases made directly from Apple Stores and services, 2% back on Apple Pay payments to other vendors, and 1% back on purchases made using the physical credit card, ostensibly just at vendors who don’t support Apple Pay. The cash back isn’t just credit; it can be transferred to your bank account.
The virtual card lives natively inside of Apple’s iOS software for iPhones and includes a number of features for tracking purchases, rewards, and debt. Panzarino describes the features as superior to those offered by most first-party credit card apps, except in some cases the American Express app.
The Apple Card is part of a major push by Apple to expand beyond deriving revenue primarily from the margins on hardware purchases. It joins Apple Music, iCloud, the App Store, AppleCare+, and other initiatives in Apple’s portfolio of services intended to pull more lifetime revenue from users in the face of more infrequent smartphone updates.