I’ve had my physical Apple Card for several months, alternating between using it as a primary credit card and a secondary card. While I’m a proponent of NFC payment methods, I signed up for the physical card because I was attracted to the premium-looking titanium makeup of the card. Several weeks ago, to my surprise, my card info was stolen—I wanted to share my experience.
The Apple Card
First, some background. The Apple Card has three different numbers: one for Apple Pay, one for online transactions and one for the physical card. This is designed to compartmentalize the card’s different numbers and isolate potential breaches. In other words, your online transactions do not affect your ability to make in-person Apple Pay transactions and your physical card does not affect your ability to shop online or use Apple Pay. This is important since online transactions and physical card swipes are prime opportunities for thieves to steal your credit card number.
Apple Pay is more secure, according to Apple, so I always opt for that first. If you must use the physical card, it’s recommended you use the chip. Additionally, you get 2% back if you use Apple Pay versus 1% with the physical card (you also get 3% back on Apple purchases and some select vendors via Apple Pay). I usually stop restaurant employees if I notice them trying to swipe my card instead of using the chip, but at gas stations this is can be quite hard. Magnetic strip card swipes are the least secure method of payment and one of the oldest and most common ways that people’s credit card numbers are stolen.
While I was at my friend’s wedding in Mexicali, Mexico, I was surprised to discover that my credit card was charged and declined for $633 at the MTA station in New York City. I had used the Apple Card a few days earlier in LA and San Diego to pay for lunch and gas, so it’s possible it got swiped there. I got the notification on my Apple Watch, which then prompted me to check my phone for more details. While I cannot confirm what processes Apple or Goldman Sachs go through to validate transactions, this was the first and only transaction I’ve had declined. I confirmed in my Apple Wallet that the transaction was fraudulent, and the card was immediately locked. The Apple wallet app suggested that I contact support, which I did. I had the option to speak with a person over the phone or to communicate via chat. Seeing as I was at a wedding, I decided to communicate with Apple chat support.
There was very little wait for Apple’s chat support, which I appreciated—aside from a few pesos, I only took my ID and Apple Card to the wedding and was worried I would run out of cash. Apple confirmed that I was in physical possession of the card and informed me that my physical card would have to be cancelled [WP1] and a new one sent to me. This was disappointing, but Apple Support informed me that my card would still work fine through Apple Pay. This was a little bit of reassurance—I had been worried that my ability to use the card would be held up until I got a new card. Interestingly, you can track the status of your card in the Wallet app; my card shipped UPS 2nd Day Air on Monday, the next possible business day, and it arrived Wednesday. What was a little disappointing is that the support agent couldn’t simply tell me this—they kept repeating that I would have to track the status through the Wallet app. I think Apple should be clearer about what the official policy is for cards in order to give people more peace of mind in terms of expectations.
Now I’ve got my new Apple Card. I still enjoy handing it to people who’ve never seen one before and seeing their surprise. I also admire the satisfying clink that the Titanium card makes when you drop it, though I use it less often now. Scenarios like this are really where you stress test a platform and learn what the experience is really like. I’d been waiting to write up my experience with the Apple card until I had used it for a few months, but now I feel like I’ve gone through the whole experience. In some ways, the Apple card is just like any other credit card, but it’s also designed to be tightly integrated into someone’s life—especially if they’re deeply tied into Apple’s ecosystem of apps, devices and services. With the recent announcement that Apple will also be offering financing through the Apple card for devices, I only expect that the Apple card will get more popular and become a bigger revenue driver for Apple.