There's a good chance you've seen people clamoring over Apple's new credit card if you've been online at all since the company's keynote last week. Aptly named the Apple Card, it's a sleek and minimal credit card with no annual fees and what looks like a pretty great UI — oh, and the card is made of titanium.
Honestly, though? The card isn't all that impressive at face value. It earns 3% cash back on Apple products, and 2% on everything else when used over Apple Pay — but only 1% when you use the physical card. That's a shame, given how nice Apple and its partner Goldman Sachs made the card look, but it makes sense; the only reason you get a card at all (beyond the status symbol) is as a backup for locations that don't accept mobile payments.
But the card isn't necessarily about the rewards. Apple made a big deal on stage about the way you apply for and manage the card, which will all be done through the Wallet app on your iPhone. You get plenty of information on the merchants you buy from within the app, along with nice visualizations for interest rates and carried balances. Of course, there's a ton of focus on security as well, with even Apple itself unable to see your spending activity.
A credit card that's managed entirely from your phone sounds interesting, but I'm not sure how it would play out for Google.
With the mostly positive response the Apple Card has garnered so far, there's a good chance Google might consider releasing a similar credit card soon. After all, Android has an even larger market share than iOS, and it wouldn't be the first time the company has offered physical cards to its users — though the last product was a debit card — but I'm not so sure it'd be such a great idea.
Say what you will about Apple, but it's always put a strong focus on privacy and security. Your transactions and spending habits are hidden from the merchants and Apple alike, encrypted and stored directly on your phone. Put simply, people trust Apple. Google doesn't have quite that level of trust, and the occasional vulnerability doesn't bode well for something as sensitive as credit card information.
As my colleague Jessica Dolcourt from CNET points out, offering a credit card that can only be managed from your phone also further locks users into that device's ecosystem. If you get an Apple Card, switching away from the iPhone suddenly involves closing out your credit card (assuming you aren't carrying a balance), which can negatively impact your credit history.
Apple knows this, and while it's not particularly great for the user, it's a smart business tactic that all but guarantees that Apple Card users won't be switching to Android any time soon. That being said, I'd really hate to see Google adopt this strategy since one of its best traits (at least, if you ask me) is the cross-compatibility of its services. Google tends to lure you in with its software, rather than its hardware or operating system.
You might be better off getting a card like the Chase Freedom that doesn't lock you into your platform.
Still, a Google Card could be good in some respects. Google doesn't sell as much high-dollar hardware as Apple, but 3% cash back would still be nice when you're ordering your next Pixel — especially since you don't get much out of the Synchrony-powered credit card currently offered in the Google Store. Google could also offer cash back for its online services like YouTube Premium and the Play Store.
Right now, though, the thing I'm most curious about is why the Apple Card or hypothetical Google Card would be worth getting over a typical credit card. The security and privacy Apple's implementing is certainly appealing, but with only basic cash back rewards, is it really a better offer than cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Amex Blue Cash Preferred, which offer similar rewards in addition to sign-on bonuses, and don't lock you into your platform?
If you don't plan on switching phones any time soon, the app and security could be enough to draw you in, but I'm not convinced just yet that credit cards from tech companies like Apple and Google are necessarily the right financial decision for most people.
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