November 2014 update: Barclaycard announced a new Visa with Apple rewards. Our review reflects the latest information. Comments written before Nov. 6, 2014, may refer to products that are no longer available.
The line-up of cards offering Apple rewards and financing has changed over the years. At various points, Barclaycard has offered financing for Apple purchases without rewards, and even an iTunes reward card. The most current card (the Barclaycard Apple Rewards Visa), offers both financing and rewards. It also has no annual fee. Here’s how it works — and what to watch out for.
If you remember the old iTunes Rewards Visa, consider this new card an upgrade. It offers:
- 3 points per $1 spent at the Apple Store
- 2 points per $1 at restaurants
- 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
Each time you earn 2,500 points, you will automatically be sent a $25 Apple gift card. Points do not expire, as long as your account is open and in good standing.
This credit card is geared toward those who need to finance their Apple Store purchases. At the time of writing this review, here’s how it works:
- The financing promo is applicable only for new cardmembers and only on purchases made within 30 days of account opening
- If your purchase is $498 or less, you get 6 months deferred interest. If your purchase is $499 to $998, you get 12 months deferred interest. If your purchase is $999 and over, you get 18 months deferred interest.
- The trap is that this is a deferred interest deal. That means, ifyou don’t pay for every dollar of that purchase in full before the promo period is up, you will be charged interest going back all the way to the date of purchase, at either 13.99 percent, 19.99 percent or 26.99 percent. The APR you’ll get depends on your creditworthiness.
EMV chip and PIN technology:
The card has an EMV chip, and, yes, it’s chip and PIN (not chip and signature like many other cards on the market). According to the card’s website, a PIN will be assigned to the card, but you can change it online. However, if you take the card abroad, you must make at least one signed transaction before you’ll be able to complete transaction with a PIN.
It’s good to see an Apple card rewarding loyal customers with triple points on Apple purchases — and the 2 points per dollar at restaurants is a big improvement over old versions of the card (which didn’t offer any bonus spending categories). Chip and PIN technology is a nice (and still rare) perk.
Yet your redemption options are extremely limited; you can use your rewards only for Apple purchases. If you’d like a more flexibility, consider a card that lets you redeem for cash back, travel and merchandise.
Also, keep in mind that financing is available only for the first 30 days after card approval. So if you were hoping to get the card, accumulate some coupons for a discount on a purchase and then finance that purchase, you’re out of luck.
However, for Apple fans who want to finance an initial purchase and then accumulate rewards toward future purchases, the card promises a decent (although pretty standard) value of 1 cent per point.
Another option for Apple rewards
If you’re looking for rewards only (and not financing), you can save 5 percent at the Apple Store online via Discover.
ShopDiscover is a special online shopping portal available only to Discover cardmembers. To save 5 percent at the Apple Store online, all you have to do is enter the store through the Discover cardmember shopping portal. You will then be given a 5 percent cash-back bonus for your purchase made with your Discover card. Here are some product exclusions:
- Offer not valid on gift wrap, gift card, gift certificate, iTunes, Apple One to One Membership, Bose products, Apple in-store tutorial services, shipping, taxes, and other service fees
- Cashback Bonus will only be rewarded to a customer for up to five (5) units per eligible product, except the iPhone, in which case the rewards will be issued only for up to two (2) units within a 30-day period.
Most purchases should qualify. It’s an easy way to earn rewards on Apple purchases without a special Apple credit card.
If financing isn’t important to you and you’re willing to buy Apple products online, the Discover it is the way to go. Instead of 3 percent back (which you’d get from the Barclaycard Apple Rewards card), you’re getting 5 percent back. With the Barclaycard, you’d need to make $833 in Apple purchases to get a $25 gift card. With the Discover it, you’d have $25 in cash back after a $500 purchase — and that $25 can be spent on anything, just just Apple products.
If you don’t already have a Discover card, then check out this review of the new Discover it to see how it works. The fact that it has no annual fee and high rewards makes it a wise choice for your wallet.
Updated Nov. 6, 2014.