The Apple Card is a Stumble Step on the Road to Perfecting Artificial Intelligence Advertising

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The Apple Card is a weak cash back card. You get very little for your spend. There’s almost no reason to use it. If you want simple cash back, get the Citi Double Cash Card (no annual fee, 2% on everything).

A viral Reddit post lambasts the Apple Card. You cannot even pay your bill from a laptop or connect it to budgeting apps.

The biggest downside of this card is that it will not integrate with any budgeting applications. Absolutely ridiculous there isn’t out of the box support for mint. Considering apple does not have any banking products, this means that users are not getting a holistic view of their finances. In fact, I found it easy to forget exactly how much I was spending on the card because it didn’t integrate with mint.

You can pay your bill in two ways, on your phone or by mail. I don’t know any credit card provider that is so archaic you can not pay via a web portal.

They also aren’t reporting to the credit bureaus right now, although that’s slated to change.

Other comments point out that from Apple’s perspective it keeps customers in the ecosystem and gets them to use Apply Pay for 2% earning, something they could get without the Apple Card and on all transactions. And that the card design has off-label uses:


This is all well-tread ground. There’s been a vision for an Apple card product that dates to Steve Jobs who preferred customers earning Apple’s own currency the way that Uber’s card has moved to.

Major tech companies are moving into financial services because they think their ubiquity gives them the ability to succeed in an adjacent space, because they have strong brands, and because their tech focus allows them to appeal to a younger ‘new affluent’ demographic.

For the tech companies and issuers the biggest play is financial data. Uber may have the ability to do more with this than Apple, combined with the physicality of where you go and what food you order, but the greatest potential certainly belongs to Google which is preparing to offer a checking account.

It’s not at all clear what consumer benefit there will be from Google compared to existing products on the market, at least so far, but there’s a logic to why Google will want to make a compelling consumer offer (in conjunction with its partners, a Stanford credit union and Citibank): transaction data.

Already Google knows what you write (Gmail) where you go (cell phone location data on Android devices), what apps you buy (Play store), and what you search for on the internet.

There’s a reason Facebook has had a rocky desire to become a payments platform. Combined with other contextual information about where you live, where you travel, and whom you connect with there’s no better way to develop a model of buying behavior. And the best artificial intelligence in the world is at Google, probably followed by Facebook and Amazon.

The end game here is making the right offer to the right customer at the right time so that advertising conversions move from very low to extremely high. On the one hand that seems creepy in the abstract. On the other hand it means providing useful information to consumers that helps them in the moment – bad advertising is annoying, advertising that that tells us what we want to know when we most want and need to know it isn’t really even advertising anymore.

We we get there? Google has made forays into many spaces where they’ve offered a good product but haven’t fully realized potential – Google flights, Google Fi for instance. They’ve acquired some products that were great but that get swallowed and useful functionality buried inside the corporate behemoth, like Grand Central. It’s hard to bet against Google’s tech – the question, I think, is whether management has the ability to get this done.

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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