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New iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods are on sale: Which is the best credit card for Apple purchases?

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.

Apple unveiled the new iPhone 15 lineup and Apple Watch Series 9 and AirPods Pro products earlier this week.

If you’re looking to buy the new iPhone, Apple Watch or even the AirPods Pro, you’re probably wondering what credit card to use for your Apple purchases. Should you use the Apple Card? The answer to your question may surprise you.

Let’s look at your options for the best credit cards to use on Apple purchases and see where the Apple Card stands after all things are considered.

What is the best credit card for Apple purchases?

It’s hard to identify the single most rewarding credit card for making Apple purchases because there are so many places to buy Apple products. Thus, if you’re buying from your cellphone provider, you should use the best credit card for mobile phone purchases. If you’re buying from other retailers, check out our guide to the best credit card for each bonus category.

In this guide, we’ll focus on purchases directly from Apple.

a Woman using her laptop in her kitchen at home.

The best credit cards for Apple purchases

American Express® Business Gold Card

The American Express Business Gold Card (see rates and fees) offers 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on purchases made directly from select U.S. technology providers of computer hardware, software and cloud solutions (Apple counts). Note that the Business Gold Card offers 4 points per dollar on your top two spending categories each billing cycle, so your technology purchases would need to be a top category to qualify; otherwise, you’ll earn 1 point per dollar. Earning 4 points per dollar also applies only to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these two categories each calendar year.

While 4 points per dollar may not sound like much more than 3% cash back with the Apple Card, it is. That’s because each Membership Rewards point is worth 2 cents if maximized with transfer partners. Thus, you could earn an 8% return on spending rather than 3% cash back with the Apple Card.

The information for the Apple Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. 

Our full review: No fuss with high earning potential: American Express Business Gold Card

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

If you don’t think you qualify for a small-business credit card, there are other strong options. U.S. Bank’s Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card is currently the most rewarding personal rewards credit card for Apple purchases on an ongoing basis.

One of its bonus categories is 3 points per dollar on purchases made using mobile payments, and the Apple Store accepts mobile payments. TPG values these points at 1.5 cents each, and you can use them easily for travel booked directly with travel providers. This means you get 4.5 cents in travel value for every dollar spent at the Apple Store if you make a mobile payment with your Altitude Reserve card. (We have also seen mobile payments as a 5% cash-back rotating bonus category on the Chase Freedom Flex in the past.)

Our full review: Bonus points on mobile payments: U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card review

The information for the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card and Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Both the Venture X card (see rates and fees) and the traditional Venture Rewards card (see rates and fees) earn 2 miles per dollar on everyday purchases, including Apple products. According to TPG’s valuations, Capital One miles are worth 1.85 cents apiece, providing a 3.7% return on your purchases.

With the Venture X, you’ll have many of the benefits covered below, including purchase and return protection, and you may get extended warranty. The card also offers numerous travel-related perks and has a $395 annual fee(see rates and fees).

Our full review: A review of Capital One Venture X

The Venture Rewards card comes with a lower $95 annual fee(see rates and fees) and offers fewer frills than the Venture X but earns the same miles at the same rate on your Apple purchases. Plus, you may still get extended warranty protection when purchasing with this card.

Our full review: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review

Options without an annual fee

In fairness, the Amex Business Gold and Altitude Reserve cards both have annual fees. If you want to stack the Apple Card up against other cards without annual fees, the differences are much smaller.

We previously mentioned the Chase Freedom Flex, which has seen mobile wallet and cellphone purchases as rotating categories for earning 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases during that quarter. You can also choose “cellphone providers” or “electronics store” as your 5% back category with the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card . With this option, you can earn 5% back on the first $2,000 of purchases in your chosen category each quarter, then 1% after that. There’s no annual fee on the Cash+ Visa.

The information for the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. 

If you’re willing to wait to make your purchase until Oct. 1, 2023, one of the rotating categories of the fourth quarter (Q4) for Chase Freedom (not accepting applicants) and Chase Freedom Flex is PayPal. Once you activate the bonus category, you will earn 5% cash back or 5 points per dollar when checking out with PayPal for your purchase on Apple’s website.

The Citi® Double Cash Card (see rates and fees) also has no annual fee. You’ll earn 1 Citi ThankYou point per dollar on purchases and another point per dollar when paying your bill. You can cash out these points at 1 cent apiece or transfer them to a limited number of travel partners. If you have other credit cards from Citi, however, you may be able to combine these points and access the full range of Citi’s transfer partners, unlocking increased value in your redemptions. TPG values these points at 1.8 cents apiece, meaning the 2 points you earn would provide a 3.6% return on spending.

Using a new credit card to earn a welcome bonus

Apple products aren’t cheap. Thus, buying a new laptop, phone or watch from Apple could help you earn a lucrative sign-up bonus on a new credit card. In fact, a plethora of credit cards allow you to earn a bonus with $1,000 or less in spending. That’s less than the cost of some of the latest iPhones, meaning the best credit card for your Apple purchase might be one you don’t have yet. Consider using your new purchase to make progress toward a heap of points and miles that could lead to a free or very cheap vacation in the future.

Is the Apple Card the best credit card for Apple purchases?

The Apple Card has no annual fee and offers 3% cash back on Apple purchases and at select merchants, including Nike, Walgreens and Exxon Mobil. Outside of these merchants, you can earn 2% back on payments with Apple Pay and 1% on other purchases. However, the other cards in this guide offer a higher return on Apple purchases.

Click here to read our full review of the Apple Card.

Related: Are mobile wallets safe?

hand holding the Apple Card credit card

For reference, cash-back credit cards without annual fees frequently have some earning categories in the 2%-5% cash-back range. The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card lets you choose your own 3% cash-back category each month (limited to your first $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter). The Chase Freedom Flex offers rotating categories in which cardholders can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of spending in each quarter’s bonus categories.

Stacking rewards when purchasing online

No matter which credit card you use for your purchase, if you’re buying online, you can earn even more rewards. Clicking through a shopping portal can provide extra cash back or even additional Membership Rewards points with Rakuten. But make sure to check your options to see if any portals cover the newest iPhone or Apple Watch — often they exclude the latest models and will be detailed in the terms and conditions.

Related: Your guide to maximizing shopping portals for your online purchases

Purchase protection matter

Earning rewards on your Apple purchase is one thing, but I’d argue it isn’t actually the most important factor when deciding what credit card to use to buy the latest iPhone, Apple Watch or MacBook.

These purchases are pricey, easily costing over $1,000 in many cases, and are exactly the types of purchases I want protected by the built-in perks of my credit cards. My family has seen Apple products end up in the lake, stop working just after their included warranty period and be damaged in a cycling accident. Even if you purchase Apple’s coverage, AppleCare only goes so far for some of these situations.

two hands hold a smartphone with a cracked screen

A number of credit cards, including some without an annual fee, provide fairly blanket purchase protections on electronics purchases for 120 days. If that bike spill that smashed the Apple Watch happened in the first four months after the purchase date — and if you used the right card to make the purchase — your credit card could cover the replacement cost.

After the first 90-120 days, built-in card protections become more restrictive and no longer cover most types of accidents, theft, etc. However, many still offer an additional year of extended warranty on top of the manufacturer’s warranty for defects. My family has used that additional year of coverage provided by the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card when an iPhone developed a battery problem just after Apple’s one-year manufacturer’s warranty period ended. Multiple American Express cards also offer extra shopping protection, including cellphone protection, extended warranty, return protection and purchase protection.

As for the Apple Card? You’ll be on your own for the cost of damage, theft or repairs on products you purchase using this card.

We should also note that the credit card you use to pay your monthly cellphone bill can also provide protection if your iPhone is lost or damaged, regardless of how you originally bought the phone.

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply

Bottom line

We aren’t saying you shouldn’t get the fancy-looking titanium Apple Card (unless that ruins your 5/24 standing). Getting an almost immediate 3% cash back on Apple purchases via a card with no annual fee is better than nothing. The spending analysis perks can benefit those new to personal finance and credit cards.

But if you are looking for the absolute best card for Apple purchases, the Apple Card isn’t your answer. You can earn significantly more rewards on Apple purchases with other cards and — perhaps more importantly — get protection against loss, damage, theft and old-fashioned breakdowns.

For rates and fees of American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.

For rates and fees of Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, click here.

For rates and fees of Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, click here.

For rates and fees of Citi Double Cash Card, click here.