Is It Worth Getting the Apple Card to Buy an iPhone?

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Last updated on March 17th, 2023

A new, hotly anticipated iPhone is seemingly available for purchase every few years. If you’re considering whether to open an Apple Card to buy the latest generation iPhone, there are a few things you should consider before hitting the “Submit” button on your application.

A Quick Refresher on the Apple Card

Boasting simplicity, transparency, and privacy, the Apple Card offers a seamless user experience centered around digital transactions. Requiring a credit score of fair (640) or higher, Apple Card owners will earn cash back through the following categories:

Rewards Category/Merchant
3% cash back Apple stores (including, Apple subscription services, iTunes, the App Store, and in-app purchases
T-Mobile (in-store via Apple Pay)
Panera (via Apple Pay)
Nike (in-store US, on the Nike app, or via Apple Pay)
ExxonMobil gas stations (via Apple Pay)
Walgreens and Duane Reade (via Apple Pay)
Ace Hardware (in-store, on the Ace Hardware app, or via Apple Pay)
Uber and Uber Eats (via Apple Pay)
2% cash back All other purchases made using Apple Pay
1% cash back All other purchases made with the physical Apple Card

The other major highlight of the Apple Card is the lack of fees it charges. The card features no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and no hidden fees of any kind.  Add to that a slick titanium card for instances where Apple Pay isn’t accepted, and you have one of the most popular credit cards on the market today.

Are There Any Downsides to Getting the Apple Card Just for a New iPhone?

At first glance, applying for an Apple Card to buy a new iPhone seems like a no-brainer. Suppose you’re already deep in the Apple ecosystem. In that case, the Apple Card is inherently useful for funding the inevitable future iPhone upgrades, plus the day-to-day convenience of earning extra cash with Apple Pay.

The 3% cash back with the Apple Card is essentially an automatic 3% discount on every new piece of Apple tech that you purchase. Although it’s not much, with the average iPhone Max costing $1,000+, that’s a guaranteed $30 back on your new iPhone – not too shabby of a return. So yes, it could be worth getting the Apple Card to score extra rewards on the new iPhone you intended to buy anyway.

What if You Don’t Upgrade Your iPhone Every Year?

Are you a part of the growing trend of iPhone users who hold onto their phone for one, two, or even three years and bypass the upgrade? If yes, the Apple Card might be worthwhile when you splash the cash for a new iPhone. Even if you only plan on using the card to upgrade your phone every few years, the card’s no annual fee means there is no cost, financial obligation, or minimum spend required to make the card “worth it.”

If you subscribe to any of Apple’s services (like AppleTV+), why are you still reading? Go out and get that 3% back before another iTunes Music payment hits! But— and this is a big but – if you’re planning on using a payment plan for a new iPhone, there’s a pretty significant consequence you should consider before getting the Apple Card.

The card may also be worth it if you plan to buy any other Apple products. Thanks to Apple Card Monthly Installments, cardholders receive a 0% APR installment on eligible products from, the Apple Store app, or an Apple Store.

Here are the products you can buy with Apple Card Monthly Installments
6 monthly payments Apple Pencil. iPad Keyboard, Pro Stand, VESA Mount Adapter, Apple Afterburner Card, Apple Branded iPhone Case, Apple Watch Bands, Apple Branded iPad Cover, Apple Branded Mac Cover, MagSafe Charger, MagSafe Battery Pack, Apple Branded MagSafe iPhone Case, Apple Branded iPhone Leather Wallet with MagSafe
12 monthly payments iPad, Mac, Pro Display XDR, or Studio Display (eligible Macs include MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Pro, Mac mini, and Mac Studio)
24 monthly payments iPhone or Apple Watch

The One Reason You Should Be Wary

What do the Apple Card, the Apple flexible payment plan, and the Apple upgrade program have in common? This answer isn’t a fun one – a credit check. The iPhone is a perfect storm that combines the demand for flexible payment options with the promise of an even better phone in the next iteration.

For this reason, many Apple fans are not only considering using the Apple Card as a way of financing their next iPhone but two other financial assistance programs offered by Apple. Unfortunately, most people don’t consider that signing up for Apple’s various programs will impact beyond the bottom lines of their bank accounts.

Sure, it’s convenient to buy an iPhone today and worry about paying it off tomorrow. However, if you’re not paying attention, you’ll quickly find yourself with a triple whammy in back-to-back hard inquiries on your credit history. This series of credit checks can, in turn, seriously harm your credit score in the short term.

So, Should You Apply for the Apple Card to Get an iPhone?

To answer the overarching question: yes, it’s worth applying for the Apple Card to earn 3% back on the newest iPhone. You should apply for the Apple card if you fully intend on sticking with Apple phones for the next few years and can afford the credit inquiry that an application will cause. If you’ve had less than two inquiries on your credit report this year (and don’t anticipate needing to invoke many others in the next two years), getting the card makes sense.

Did you want to partake in all three Apple programs – the credit card, the payment plan, and the upgrade program – but want to stay within the optimal number of credit inquiries? Consider the number of credit checks this scenario may cause. Is saving 3% on the iPhone Max worth forgoing the flexible payment option of 0% interest for 24 months or kissing the automatic upgrade goodbye?

Related Article: Citi Custom Cash vs. Citi Double Cash

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About: Cory Santos
Cory Santos

Cory is the senior credit card editor at BestCards, specializing in everything credit card-related. He’s worked extensively with credit cards and other personal finance topics, including nearly five years at BestCards. Cory’s extensive knowledge is an essential part of the BestCards experience, helping readers to live their best financial lives with up-to-date insights and comprehensive coverage of all facets of the credit card space, including market trends, rewards guides, credit advice, and comprehensive credit card reviews.

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