The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Best Apple Pay Credit Cards of 2021

Best Apple Pay Credit Cards

credit card advice

Eric Bank
By: Eric Bank
Posted: February 24, 2021
Advertiser Disclosure

If you’re a fan of digital wallets, you’ll find our review of the best Apple Pay credit cards highly enlightening. These cards work seamlessly in Apple Pay but are great cards even if you never use a mobile digital wallet.

If you’re in the latter group, we suggest you give digital wallets a try — they are easy to set up, convenient to use, and just plain cool.

Best Apple Pay Compatible Cards

It turns out that most cards are compatible with digital wallets, so these rankings are based on rewards earned at places that accept Apple Pay. These include many of your favorite stores, restaurants, apps, transit systems, colleges, nonprofits, and websites. Most of these cards require a good or excellent credit score for approval.

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Redeem on travel—including flights, vacation rentals, car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a top choice among travel cards. It offers a flat reward rate in air miles that you can redeem for numerous items, including airline travel, car rentals, hotel stays, cash, gift cards, and more. You also earn bonus miles when you book hotels or car rentals via Capital One Travel, and you can transfer your miles to over 15+ travel loyalty programs.

Apple Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Get unlimited 3% Daily Cash back on everything you buy from Apple and other select merchants when you use Apple Card with Apple Pay
  • Get unlimited 2% Daily Cash back when you use your iPhone or Apple Watch to pay with Apple Card
  • Pay for your new Apple products over time, interest‑free with Apple Card Monthly Installments
  • With advanced security technologies like Face ID, Touch ID, and unique transaction codes, Apple Card with Apple Pay is designed to make sure you're the only one who can use it
  • The only credit card made of titanium — a sustainable metal known for its beauty and durability
  • No annual fees, no foreign transaction fees, or late fees. No fees, period.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
10.99% - 21.99% (Variable)
$0
Good/Excellent

What could be a better fit for Apple Pay than the titanium Apple Card? It’s at home on your iPhone and Apple Watch, where it will earn you unlimited Daily Cash rewards while supporting advanced technologies like Face ID and Touch ID. The physical Apple credit card lets you pay for new Apple products and AppleCare+ coverage over time in interest-free monthly installments.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
N/A
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® lets you earn tiered rewards that vary by merchant type, as well as bonus rewards for mobile wallet spending. You can redeem the rewards points for cash back, gift cards, travel, and for the purchase of products and services via Pay with Points. If you also have a Chase Sapphire card, you can transfer the Freedom points, and they’ll be worth more when used for travel purchases via Chase Ultimate Rewards.

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

at the issuer'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points worth $750 on travel when you spend $4,500 in the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Earn 5X points on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center.
  • Earn 3X points for every $1 on eligible travel purchases and mobile wallet spending.
  • Earn an industry-leading 3X points on eligible mobile wallet purchases using Apple Pay®, Google Pay™, Samsung Pay and LG Pay®.
  • For a limited time enjoy 3X points for every $1 on takeout, food delivery, and dining. Valid on purchases through 06/30/21.
  • Get reimbursed up to $325 annual credits for eligible travel purchases. And, through 06/30/21, takeout, food delivery, and dining purchases are also eligible for reimbursement.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
$400
Excellent

The U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card offers tiered reward points for travel, hotels, mobile wallet spending, and more. The card offers many travel benefits, including accident insurance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, and baggage insurance. Use the card to book car rentals and receive collision damage waiver coverage and 24/7 roadside assistance.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn up to $400 Back in the form of statement credits: Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $200 back - plus, earn $200 back after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership
  • Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year on purchases (then 1%). Also earn 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • Earn 3% cash back on transit, including U.S. gas stations, taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses, and more. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.
  • Access to Global Assist® Hotline - 24/7 medical, legal, financial and other select emergency assistance and coordination services
  • 0% intro APR for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable APR applies
  • $0 intro annual fee, $95 annual fee thereafter
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
13.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0 intro; $95 thereafter
Excellent Credit

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers tiers of cash back on purchases from particular types of merchants, including groceries, streaming services, transit providers, and gas stations. You can stretch payments over several months for a fixed monthly fee via the Plan It® option. Benefits include purchase protection, car rental insurance, online account management, and exclusive ticket access.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. Through December 31, 2021, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.99%-23.99% Variable
$550
Good/Excellent

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a generous signup bonus and tiered points rewards that have extra value when redeemed via Chase Ultimate Rewards® or Pay Yourself BackSM. This rewards card lets you access hundreds of airport lounges worldwide, as well as select events, charity auctions, and celebrity cooking classes. Use the card to Shop through Chase® at more than 400 popular stores and earn extra rewards on selected deals.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn cash back twice! Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance Transfers do not earn cash back and will have a fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • 24/7 access to customer service representatives
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
0% for 18 months
13.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

Citi® Double Cash Card is a straightforward credit card with a flat cash back rate that rewards you for on-time payments. Although its regular APR is low to moderate, you’ll trigger a high penalty APR if your payment is late or returned. You can convert cash rewards to ThankYou Points and use them to shop at participating merchants.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
N/A
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ rewards card offers a modest signup bonus as well as points for purchases on quarterly rotating bonus categories and several fixed-rate tiered rewards. Card benefits include cellphone protection and occasional promotions with partners such as DoorDash and Caviar. You can transfer the points you earn on this card to a Chase Sapphire card that boosts their value when redeemed for travel at Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Citi Premier® Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • Earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good

The Citi Premier® Card rewards you with bonus points for purchases at selected merchant types. You can transfer your points or redeem them for gift cards or to shop online at Amazon and Best Buy. Through Citi Entertainment®, you gain special access to tickets for thousands of experiences, including concerts, sporting events, and dining out.

What is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is a digital wallet from Apple. You can use it to make payments online, in person, and in iOS apps. You can load your credit card information into Apple Pay on your iPhone, another iOS device, or an Apple Watch, and then use the device instead of your credit card to check out at a compatible point-of-sale terminal or card reader.

The mobile wallet allows you to make contactless payments and does not require the merchant to use payment terminals specific to Apple Pay. In other words, it works with any merchant that accepts contactless payments using near-field communication devices.

Apple Pay secures merchant and payment data, performs cryptographic functions, and allows biometric identification via Face ID or Touch ID. Apple Pay doesn’t transmit an actual credit card number when you make a payment, instead using a numeric tokenized account number that won’t expose you to identity theft. Apple Pay can store up to a dozen credit and debit cards.

The wallet generates a dynamic security code for each transaction which works in tandem with the tokenized account number to provide security against theft. Apple Pay works with all four U.S. payment networks — American Express, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa. The wallet also supports money transfers from families and friends.

How Do I Link My Credit Card to Apple Pay?

Apple Pay works with virtually all credit cards — you aren’t limited to the titanium Apple Card, which provides you with Daily Cash rewards. It works with Wallet, an Apple mobile payment app to link and store credit cards.

Follow these steps to link a card to Apple Pay on your iPhone:

  1. Find the Wallet app and tap +.
  2. Scan your physical card by positioning it in the displayed frame. (If you can’t scan the card, choose Enter Card Details Manually in the Wallet app, and enter the requested information).
  3. Follow the bank instructions for the card. The bank verifies your information and decides whether you can use the card with Apple Pay. The bank may ask for additional information.
  4. Tap Next.

That’s it — easy as (Apple) pie!

There are different instructions available for adding your card to the wallet on your Apple Watch or your Mac.

How Do I Pay With a Credit Card Using Apple Pay?

The idea behind Apple Pay is to make a mobile payment without using your physical card. You can use the mobile wallet for in-store, online, and in-app purchases.

In-Store Purchases

You can use Apple Pay to make in-store purchases at any location displaying the following symbols:

Apple Pay Symbols

We’ll assume you are using an iPhone to house your Apple Pay app. You can adjust the steps if you have a different make of mobile device.

If you are using Face ID:

  1. Press the side button to bring up Face ID.
  2. Glance at the screen.
  3. Hold the top of the phone near the terminal.

If you are using Touch ID:

  1. Rest your finger on Touch ID.
  2. Hold the top of the phone near the terminal.

You’re done!

In-App and Online Purchases

You can use Apple Pay to make in-app and online (in the Safari browser) purchases wherever you see this button:

Apple Pay Online

Or see “Apple Pay” or “Buy with Apple Pay” listed as a payment method.

For online purchases from your Mac:

  1. Press the Apple Pay button.
  2. Verify the shipping, billing, and contact information. You can select a credit card other than the default card by expanding the menu and selecting another card.
  3. If it’s your first use of Apple Pay, enter the shipping, billing, and contact information. Apple Pay will remember this information for subsequent use.
  4. Make your purchase as per the website’s procedure.
  5. To confirm the payment, follow prompts on the Touch Bar and place a finger on Touch ID or follow prompts if Touch ID is off.
  6. When payment is successful, look on the screen for a checkmark and “Done.”

The procedure is the same for Apple Pay in-app purchases, including Apple purchases, on your iPhone, except you will have the option of using Touch ID, Face ID, or your passcode to confirm the payment.

Which Credit Cards Can Be Used With Apple Pay?

While the Apple Credit Card is a natural fit for the Apple Pay app, the mobile payment app works with most credit cards, including the ones in this review.

The key to using a credit card with Apple Pay is for the card’s issuing bank or credit union to support Apple Pay. Nowadays, this applies to most banks and many credit unions — more than 3,050 in the United States. All the nation’s top 10 credit card issuers support Apple Pay:

  • American Express
  • Bank of America
  • Barclays
  • Capital One
  • Chase
  • Citi
  • Discover
  • Synchrony Bank
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo

Occasional exceptions may exist such as for some business or co-branded credit cards that do not yet support mobile payments.

You’ll also find that Apple Pay has penetrated many international markets, with the participation of select banks and credit unions in at least 33 countries.

The definitive list of supported cards is available online from Apple.

Apple Pay operates on Apple devices, including Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch (all available from your local Apple store). You can choose a different mobile wallet (such as Google Pay or Samsung Pay) if you are using a non-Apple device.

Does Apple Pay Charge a Fee?

For most services, Apple Pay is free, with no annual fee or other nuisance costs. This includes both card-present and card-not-present transactions using either a credit card or a debit card.

Merchants have the option of tacking on a fee for Apple Pay purchases just as they can for plastic credit cards. Merchants that offer cash discounts may not include Apple Pay customers.

Apple Pay can be used to transfer money to someone using a credit card linked to the digital wallet. The cost for this service is 3% of the money transferred. There is no charge if you use a debit card for the transfer.

Can Apple Pay Be Used at an ATM?

You can use Apple Pay at most cardless ATMs, including the ones at Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo. To use Apple Pay at an ATM, tap the mobile device on the contactless reader symbol and then enter the card’s PIN.

Photo of an Apple Pay Compatible ATM

You can use Apple Pay at ATMs from select banks that use near-field communication. Photo source: TechCrunch

This only works on ATMs that use near-field communication protocols.

Can I Pay My Credit Card Bill With Apple Pay?

The short answer is no but requires some explanation.

Apple Pay performs two main tasks:

  1. Use it to charge purchases, including Apple purchases, to a credit card or debit card stored in the Apple Wallet app.
  2. Use it to send, receive, or transfer money.

To send, receive, or transfer money normally requires you to use a debit card whose information you have loaded onto the Wallet app and is accessible to Apple Pay. The default debit card is the Apple Cash card, but you can use other debit cards as well.

You can only pay bills using Apple Pay if the creditor accepts Apple Pay. That is, the creditor’s bill payment page must allow you to choose Apple Pay as a payment source.

Credit card companies do not allow you to make a payment using another credit card. Normally, you must enter your bank account information as the source of online payment to a credit card.

However, some credit cards may allow you to use a debit card as the payment source. If your credit card issuer permits online payments via debit cards, you may be able to use your Apple Cash account, the debit default card in Apple Pay. But you wouldn’t be able to use Apple Pay directly.

For other types of payments and transfers that do allow sourcing from Apple Pay, you may have the choice of paying with a credit card or a debit card. If you use a credit card from your Wallet, the credit card company will treat the transaction as a cash advance and charge you a cash equivalent transaction fee in the 2% to 5% range. In addition, Apple Pay will deduct a 2% fee.

The moral of this story is that you can pay certain bills with Apple Pay, but you must source the payment with a debit card if you don’t want to pay a king’s ransom in fees. In no event can you use Apple Pay to pay a credit card bill, although you may be able to use a debit card that happens to be stored in the Apple Wallet app.

Should I Add My Credit Card to Apple Pay?

Your decision on whether to add credit cards to Apple Pay depends on what you think about digital wallets.

Advantages of Digital Wallets

Here are some basic reasons to use a digital wallet:

  • Lighten your load: Whether you’re going to the local store or traveling to a distant location, a digital wallet lets you limit how many credit cards you lug around. You can use your smartphone to make purchases at a compatible terminal or card reader, which have become ubiquitous in 2021.
  • Flexibility: You can load multiple cards into your digital wallet, giving you the flexibility to use the best one for any given purchase. You can dynamically select the card you want when you want it, be it a debit, credit, gift, or prepaid card.
  • Security: No need to worry about lost or stolen cards or leaving your wallet in the cab. A digital wallet is much safer since it does not store your credit card account numbers. If you lose your iPhone, no one will be able to activate Apple Pay unless they have your face, your thumbprint, or your passcode. In addition, eavesdroppers and skimmers will not be able to glean any useful information when you make an in-store purchase, thanks to random payment codes and one-type passwords generated in real time.
  • Mostly free: Most digital wallets are free to get and free to use. The only fee that Apple Pay charges is for cash transfers — there is no annual fee. You get a lot of value for next-to-no costs — that’s a good deal!

One other advantage for some of us older folk — they’re cool to use.

Disadvantages of Digital Wallets

Before committing to a digital wallet, make sure you consider some possible disadvantages:

  • Not Universally Accepted: You’ll probably have to carry around at least one credit card, debit card, or cash for those times when a merchant does not accept digital wallet purchases. Although this is becoming rare, many merchants have still not updated their terminals to accept contactless transactions, much less digital wallets.
  • Fear of the Unknown: Not all consumers live on technology’s bleeding edge. While digital wallets have been around for some time, many folks don’t yet fully understand how they work and perhaps feel using them is unsafe. These apps need to bristle with friendly, easy-to-understand features that will break down the barriers of fear and prejudice about their use.
  • Stubbornness: A traditionalists viewpoint: If credit cards were good enough for my parents, they’re good enough for me. Even leaning further in the traditionalist direction are folks who like using cash, thank you — none of this plastic that encourages overspending. But, someday, humans may think back to paper money and plastic cards with a sense of disgust at their germiness.
  • Too easy to use: Digital wallets, especially those loaded with several credit and debit cards, make it very easy to spend. If you are an unbudgeted, undisciplined spender, digital wallets may be the kiss of death to your prospects for saving and investing.

These disadvantages will work themselves out over time. We think digital wallets are a sure bet for the decades ahead.

Adapt to Contactless Payments With Apple Pay

Our review of the best Apple Pay credit cards has identified optimal candidates to include in your iPhone’s digital wallet. We’re confident that digital transactions will continue to grow in popularity and in power. The high-tech security features protecting Apple Pay make it a solid leader in the contactless payment sector.

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