Bolder Thinking Blog

How the new Apple Card won me over

September 13th, 2019 | Andrew Davidson

How the new Apple Card won me over. It’s not what you think.

The Apple Card, which officially launched on August 20th, is probably the most talked-about credit card of all time. Not since the launch of the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card back in 2016 has there been anything remotely close to generating so much hype, discussion, debate and anticipation when it comes to a credit card. As someone who has been studying the industry for more than 25 years, I’ve not seen anything like it.

I’ll admit that before I made the decision to apply I was rather cynical. First, Apple already has a credit card, issued by Barclays, so what was going to be so different about this one? Second, the 2% cashback for purchases in Apple Pay was hardly going to move the needle when most consumers don’t use Apple Pay and can get better cashback on other cards. Regardless, after being impressed by the pre-launch marketing campaign and, in the name of good competitive intelligence, I submitted my application, via the Wallet app, so that I could give the Apple Card a test run.

I have to say that in the last few weeks I’ve been won over. 

It’s not the fact that the card launched on my birthday (belated birthday wishes accepted) or that my 15-year-old son helped me film an “Apple Card Unboxing” video which I shared on LinkedIn. It’s not even the beautiful, white laser-etched, titanium card which I show off to friends and colleagues to gasps of delight as I point out that it has no card number or CVV or even a signature strip. What has won me over can be summed up in two words: mobile integration. 

The Apple Card is fully integrated into my Apple phone and was in there right from the beginning, from the point of discovery, to the application within the Wallet app, to paying with Apple Pay, to seeing my expenses and managing my account. Mobile integration sounds rather vague so let me give you two solid examples which I think will move the needle for the industry.

Texting Apple in the wallet app is so EASY

It is unbelievably easy to text Apple with a question and receive a response in the Wallet app. It’s like texting a friend, only Apple responds more quickly! The fact that cardholders can access this service via the Wallet app is the game-changer here. There is no need to open another banking app on the phone. Also, the familiarity of the texting environment encourages cardholders to ask questions when they might not have bothered if making a call or visiting a website were the only contact options. My personal texting experience with Apple Card was so easy that it took me back to the days when 24-hour customer service was the differentiator versus credit card companies that you could only reach during business hours. As rewards become more ubiquitous this type of tech-enhanced feature can be a differentiator as it takes customer service to a new level. Many will prefer to text rather than call and they still have the option to do both.

Using Apple Pay with a default set for transit is so EASY

During set-up, I was asked if I wanted to set my Apple Card as the default for “express transit” which means the card will work automatically without requiring Touch ID or a passcode on the subway. I’m a frequent Apple Pay user and yet I had no idea that the express transit settings existed. There is no requirement for Apple Card to be the default for express transit – I could have selected any of the cards in my Apple wallet – but seeing that Apple had bothered to ask I decided to select my Apple Card. With some excitement and a little apprehension, I headed to the New York subway to give it a try and with a “ping” I was through the turnstile after simply holding my phone near the contactless reader. Easy. Apple is gaining a first-mover advantage when it comes to contactless payments on mass transit systems like the New York Subway.

There are other features of the Apple Card which are unique such as the daily cash, the colorful spend summaries or the focus on privacy but texting customer service and setting Apple Card as the default for transit has elevated the card in my wallet. What can card issuers do? For starters, investigate the possibility of adding text as a contact option. None of the cards in my Apple wallet, other than the Apple Card, have this feature but that differentiator could be negated. Then promote your card as the default for express transit payments. Your customers probably don’t even know this feature exists.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be exploring more opportunities for mobile integration. Follow me on LinkedIn to stay up to date.

Andrew Davidson

Andrew Davidson

Andrew Davidson is SVP, Chief Insights Officer for Comperemedia, an expert in consumer and marketing intelligence.