The Apple Card provides you with some terrific tools to help you manage your debt, such as an interest calculator that lets you figure out the payments you can afford. But the temporary doubling of cash back rewards is a good reminder that the goal here is still to get you to spend.
As soon as Apple started taking orders for the Mac Pro the other day, I loaded up my virtual shopping cart with a custom-configured model comprising every feature I wanted. It was north of $52,000 at that point.
“Get 6% Daily Cash back when you pay with Apple Card until December 31, or get special financing,” read a prompt on the screen.
That’d be more than $3,100 back. Enough to score a nicely-configured 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Of course I didn’t do it. For one thing, I don’t have an Apple Card with a $52,000 limit. For another, I don’t have any need for that much hardware. As I said before, I admire the Mac Pro from a distance, like a supercar. It did get me thinking, though, about how much pressure we’re put under this time of year to consume.
Apple’s 6% Daily Cash back, doubling the normal reward – at least when you buy from the Apple Store – is just another example of how subtly and not so subtly we’re prompted to spend, sometimes against our better judgment. Many Americans drown in debt to maintain their lifestyles. American consumer debt was approaching $14 trillion by the second quarter of 2019, according to the New York Federal Reserve. Credit card debt comprises a bit more than a quarter of total consumer debt, with mortgage debt, student loans, and auto loans all outpacing it. But that’s still more than $1.08 trillion in the third quarter of 2019.
I’m not here to lecture anyone else about spending money during the holidays, though. I’m mainly trying to work through my own guilt at spending above my means, which inevitably happens.
Apple Card: Part of Apple Services’ banner year
This has been a big year for the part of Apple’s business it lumps together under the Services umbrella. The company exits the year having launched three new services – Apple Card, Apple Arcade, and Apple TV+. Services revenue skyrocketed to $12.5 billion for Apple’s most recently reported fiscal quarter, growing a healthy 18% year over year.
Apple TV+ is a freebie to the millions of folks who have bought new Apple gear since it launched, and for the rest of us it’s another $5 to tithe to Apple, same as Apple Arcade. With both of these services launching in the last quarter of the year, their effects on Apple’s bottom line is yet to be measured.
But there’s little doubt that many consumers have signed up for and are actively using the Apple Card. Which puts more money in the pocket of Apple and its partner Goldman Sachs. So count on them using creative ways to keep you using the Apple Card.
At least with the Apple Card you get a detailed breakdown of what you’re spending and an interest calculator to help you better pay down that debt.
But, you know, spend.