Steve Jobs Had a Vision for an Apple Credit Card. This Summer’s Launch Moves Away From It.

In March Apple announced the launch of its new co-brand credit card from Goldman Sachs.

It’s a weak cash back card. It offers 3% on Apple spend, 2% on spend using Apple Pay, and 1% everywhere else. When you can get a straight 2% on everything (not just Apple Pay) and other cash back cards offer broader 3% and higher earn categories.

The new Apple Card’s earning isn’t even that different than the old earning from the Barclays Visa with Apple Rewards (points redeemable for Apple and iTunes gift cards). It’s cooler-looking, with limited fees, and new privacy features that do nothing to combat how credit card fraud happens today, from massive data breaches rather than restaurant servers copying down your number.

Apple’s former creative director has now revealed that that old Barclays card model of earning points towards iTunes music was actually the original Apple Card vision of Steve Jobs.

The year was 2004, when Apple was a very different company. It had only recently reinvented the music industry with iPod and iTunes, forever changing the way we buy and discover music.

Steve thought the time was right for Apple to offer its own credit card. He would call it … (drum roll)… Apple Card.

…Purchases would earn iPoints, which could be redeemed for your favorite music on iTunes.

…Alas, the Apple Card never saw the light of day. Steve worked to create a partnership with MasterCard, but apparently he couldn’t get the terms he wanted—so he pulled the plug.

The creative teams at Apple had already developed creative for the card. Under the slogan, “With the Apple Card, every purchase counts towards free music” they had mocked up:

  • Buy bed, get R.E.M.
  • Buy balloons, get Zeppelin.
  • Buy lipstick, get Kiss.
  • Buy raincoat, get Weather Report.
  • Buy airplane ticket, get Train.

When the new Apple Card becomes available this summer, dedicated Apple fans may rush to it. It’s worth knowing that the card isn’t as good as competitor products in the market and actually moves away from Steve Jobs’ original vision which was points for Apple products, not cash back.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Just because it’s not Jobs’ vision from 15 years ago doesn’t mean it’s not better.

    I agree with you that it’s not the world’s greatest card and not even the best cash back card (I’m certainly not getting one) but it’s not a horrible card for some – the best benefit being the rewards are earned instantly.

  2. Gary, you’re wrong that it doesn’t combat how fraud works today. Generating a unique one-time card number for every purchase means any card number obtained in a hack is useless. It solves that problem completely.

  3. Shouldn’t this blog be renamed? It still says it’s about travel, and article like these have 0% to do with travel (well, it has has as much to do with travel as what’s going on in the underwear industry, assuming you wear underwear when traveling, so I look forward to reading about underwear manufacturers in future blog entries).

  4. So, what does Apple get from this? Do they get a percentage of the swipe fee or something? Or is it just free marketing for Apple?

  5. @HT Apple gets a small percentage of all Apple Pay purchases (on this card or otherwise) so it might be a tool to push people into using Apple Pay generally. I’d assume they get a cut of all purchases put on this card tho.

  6. @Brandon When using the physical card, it doesn’t generate a unique number. It’s not printed on the card, but as Gary was saying, that’s not the main means of fraud nowadays.

  7. Gary, since when were you a cybersecurity expert?

    Stay in your lane; stick to talking smack about American.

    Also who gives two s**ts what Steve’s vision *was*?
    Do you know what Steve told Tim Cook before he died?

    “Among his last advice he had for me, and for all of you, was to never ask what he would do,” Cook recalled in an Oct. 19 speech at Apple headquarters. ” ‘Just do what’s right,’ he said.”

    This is a swing and a miss on your part… unless your ulterior motive was to try and convince people to *not* get an Apple Card and instead click on one of your affiliate links? lol you’re something else.

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