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Is there any reason to use a physical Apple Card instead of a conventional Visa card? My understanding is that superior Apple Card anti-fraud protection only works if you use Apple Pay with an iPhone, but I don't plan to use that since it's accepted by far fewer merchants than Visa.

Any other comments in this regard would be appreciated.

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    Apple Card is a conventional credit card
    – littleadv
    Dec 2, 2022 at 18:26
  • Thanks. Just to clarify: when used in Apple Wallet, Apple Card has advantages over a conventional card, eg better anti-fraud protection.
    – dan
    Dec 2, 2022 at 18:28
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    Can you elaborate on the "superior" claim? Anyways, use a credit card instead of a debit card is tried and true wisdom. Apple's marketing puffery is, well...puffery.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Dec 2, 2022 at 18:52
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    That seems independent of ApplePay, though.
    – chepner
    Dec 2, 2022 at 21:25
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    $0 fraud liability seems to be pretty standard these days. What does Apple Card offer superior to that?
    – spuck
    Dec 5, 2022 at 18:41

3 Answers 3

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The Apple Card has separate credit card numbers (PANs) for the physical card (chip and magstripe), online manually entered credit card numbers (pulled up in the Wallet app), and Apple Pay (contactless, web payments). Each PAN is associated with its intended method of use: the PAN from the card will be rejected for an online transaction.

This limits the use of stolen numbers. Specifically, one could not skim the PAN from a magstripe (or steal a it from a compromised cash register) and use it to buy something online. The card has no numbers, expiration date, or CVV, printed on it to prevent accidental use this way. In person transactions with the PAN would be normally protected by the EMV chip, so the physical card's PAN is largely useless. There are several variations on this (e.g. Apple Pay number to magstripe) that are also blocked.

Traditional cards use the same PAN and expiration date for in-person and online purchases. For example, a waiter at a restaurant could merely copy all the data printed on the card and use it to buy something online.

This is often for legacy reasons that mostly don't exist anymore: some old POS systems required the keying of the last four digits to check against transplanted magstripes, or in the very old days, you'd get an authorization over the phone by punching in the card number, and then take an imprint of the card with a click-clack machine.

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    Worth mentioning that Apple card is not at all unique, many other cards have this feature (although for most you'd need to explicitly ask for the separate online PAN). That said, that is actually more inconvenience to the customer without any additional benefit (to the said customer). The main beneficiary of these features are the card issuers themselves (Apple, in this case).
    – littleadv
    Dec 3, 2022 at 0:38
  • @littleadv There are disposable credit card numbers intended for online use, but which card allows you to block the physical card's number from online/CNP use?
    – user71659
    Dec 3, 2022 at 0:59
  • None, because why would they?
    – littleadv
    Dec 3, 2022 at 1:39
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    @dan Yes, some things like airlines require presenting the physical card when you pick up the tickets and they assume the number you told them over the phone will match the card. People with credit cards don't necessarily have computers/Internet access like Apple Card holders are assumed to have, so they may not have a way to retrieve the CNP number. Refunds are a bit of a challenge too, I ran into this. Some systems (Clover) require the entire PAN to refund a in-person transaction, and you can't give this over the phone.
    – user71659
    Dec 7, 2022 at 20:55
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    @dan another reason is that not embossing the PAN reduces one abuse vector, but increases another. It doesn't necessarily reduce fraud overall, and may not be worth the effort for the companies to change their standards and regulations that affect thousands of issuers around the world. Clearly if Apple can issue the card without embossed PAN - so can other issuers, but whether it's worth their while to bother is not at all clear. You need to remember that the fraud risk is not on the consumers, it's on the issuers and processors.
    – littleadv
    Dec 8, 2022 at 8:09
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Just to correct a misconception... Apple Pay is not special or rare. It is simply Apple's brand of NFC (Near Field Communication) payments also known as "tap to pay". Apple Pay works at any terminal enabled for tap-to-pay which at least in my world are the vast majority.

One might think that there needs to be an Apple logo or Apple Pay sign or it won't work. Not at all, there is nothing unique to Apple on the infrastructure side, it's simply tap-to-pay NFC.

As an example of Apple Pay's breadth of acceptance is that Apple Pay is now interchanging more business than Mastercard. That isn't all on the Apple branded card, obviously... it's mostly bank cards that people have programmed into their phones.

And I have to say, a few months after Apple Pay launched, Verizon told me they weren't going to support my iPhone 3GS anymore, so they handed me a free very, very lowball Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime. Imagine my surprise when the phone setup walked me through setting up Samsung Pay. "Wait, what???" You gotta watch that Apple "halo effect" will blind you to what's going on in the rest of the industry.

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    Just to add support to this, it's actually almost impossible to tell the difference between a card tap and a phone tap. I think MasterCard might have a value to indicate the form factor of what's being tapped, but I don't think the other brands do, and even with MC you can't tell which type of phone it was (e.g. ApplePay vs SamsungPay).
    – Bobson
    Dec 4, 2022 at 7:51
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    This is a good answer, as usual, Harper. But the OP's question was not about Apple Pay (NFC payment method, usable with many credit cards) but about a physical Apple Card (A credit card issued by Apple, Inc.)
    – spuck
    Dec 5, 2022 at 18:43
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    @spuck I know, but the question was based on a misconception, so this is sort of a frame challenge to that misconception. I could have disclaimed that, but I have a rule to keep disclaimers to a bare minimum, because if you've ever looked at a disclaimer you think "what kind of fool made this disclaimer necessary?" And I don't want to insult SE readers lol. Dec 5, 2022 at 21:55
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Yes, there are several advantages of using an Apple Card over a conventional credit card. First, Apple Card has no annual fees, no late fees, no foreign transaction fees, and no over-limit fees. Additionally, Apple Card offers cashback rewards on certain purchases, as well as Apple-specific rewards and discounts. Finally, Apple Card also offers a suite of privacy and security features, such as unique card numbers and tokenization, which are designed to protect your financial data.

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