Earning cash back using credit cards is a very common method of saving on your expenses. But you could be earning even more cash back with one simple change — using Apple Pay on your iPhone to make your routine purchases.
More commonly known as your “mobile wallet,” simply link a credit or debit card to your mobile wallet and you can pay at eligible terminals using your phone, smartwatch, or other device. And with these new capabilities, companies are beginning to incentivize these types payments in the form of additional rewards.
Next time you’re purchasing something, it could be advantageous to put your credit card back in your wallet and get your iPhone out to pay.
What is Apple Pay?
Apple Pay is the digital wallet platform that is pre-installed on iPhones and other Apple devices for users to make secure purchases in stores, on apps, and online. Along with the security of Apple Pay, it comes with a great level of convenience as you no longer need to fumble around with cash or dig in your wallet for your favorite credit card. It's a great tool when you're looking at how to manage your money.
Because using a mobile wallet to pay is still new and slowly being adopted in the United States, there are several ways that credit card companies and cashback programs incentivize you to use your iPhone rather than your physical card to pay.
How to earn cash back on Apple Pay
1. Apple Card
Apple made a splash into the credit card world with its own credit card, the Apple Card. The Apple Card is unique as the cash back you earn on your spending can immediately be sent to your bank account. With many cashback credit cards, there are stricter limitations on how you can redeem your earnings.
With the Apple Card, you will earn the following cashback:
- 3% cashback on Apple purchases and purchases with select partners when using Apple Pay
- 2% cashback on other Apple Pay purchases
- 1% cashback on everything else
The Apple Card made a real splash when it debuted earlier this year, as it has no fees whatsoever, including no late fees. However, you will still accrue interest on any revolving balance.
2. U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
The U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card is one of my favorite credit cards because of the ability to earn valuable rewards on all my purchases.
When you use your U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card for eligible travel and mobile wallet purchases — including Apple Pay — you will earn 3X per dollar. These points are worth a firm 1.5 cents per point when redeemed through the U.S. Bank portal for travel such as rental cars and flights. At that rate, you are effectively earning 4.5 cents per dollar on all your purchases.
If you’re an avid Costco shopper, this card could be even more useful since Costco accepts Apple Pay and other mobile payments at their checkouts. The value in travel rewards from the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve is worth more than the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi when you use Apple Pay, so you could quickly rack up serious rewards.
Additionally, the Altitude Reserve card does come with $325 in annual travel credits, 12 complimentary Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes per year, a $100 credit toward TSA PreCheck or Global Entry every four years, Priority Pass airport lounge access, and more.
3. Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card is another card that will reward you with cash rewards on Apple Pay purchases. When you use Apple Pay, you can earn 2% cash rewards on purchases.
While the bonus earnings are not incredibly high, this card is a great credit card for someone looking to continuously earn cash rewards on eligible Apple Pay purchases.
The Wells Fargo Active Cash also offers a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months. To add to the savings, you will also have an introductory 0% APR on purchases for 15 months from account opening (then 19.99%, 24.99%, or 29.99% variable), and an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers (then 19.99%, 24.99%, or 29.99% variable).
In addition, you will have access to Visa Signature privileges and cell phone protection. All of these great perks of the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card come with a $0 annual fee.
Other solid credit cards to earn cash back on Apple Pay
4. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
While the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express won’t earn you extra cashback on Apple Pay, you will still benefit from the security and convenience of using Apple Pay. It is a great card to add to your mobile wallet for maximizing your cashback potential.
You will earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1%) and on select U.S. streaming services, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% cash back on other eligible purchases. You can also earn a $250 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months. This card has a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 per year thereafter.
Adding to the high earning potential, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express also comes with an introductory 0% APR on purchases for 12 months, then 18.99% to 29.99% (variable).
With all of these potential earnings and features, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is rated one of our best cashback credit cards.
5. Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
If you’re looking for cashback on Apple Pay but don’t want to keep track of any special spending categories, the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is a great option for that.
With this card, you will earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day; and 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply), along with the ability to earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
In addition, the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card has a long list of perks. You will have no foreign transaction fees, travel accident insurance, extended warranty, and a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months (then 19.74% - 29.74% (variable) APR).
Similar to the Blue Cash Preferred Card, you won’t earn any bonus cashback on Apple Pay, but the security and convenience are great features to consider ditching the plastic for your iPhone.
6. Special offers from credit card issuers
From time to time, credit card issuers will offer limited-time promotions to earn bonus cash back or points for using Apple Pay or other mobile wallet platforms to pay for purchases.
For example, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is famous for its rotating quarterly categories. In the past, the card has offered mobile payment as one of its categories to earn up to 5% cash back.
From time to time, American Express also offers bonus points for Apple Pay through their Amex Offers platform. (Note that you need to activate these offers.) Earlier this year, for example, targeted American Express cardholders received an offer to earn $2 in statement credit for spending $5 or more using Apple Pay, for a maximum of $10 in rewards. It might not sound like much, but since Apple Pay is accepted in so many places, it’s easy to max out these types of offers with your normal spending.
If you’re sold on the idea of earning cashback on Apple Pay, be sure to keep an eye out for promotions that your credit card issuer may be providing.
Note: If you still have the older Chase Freedom Card, you can also take advantage of when the rotating bonus category applies to mobile payments.
7. Limited time Apple Pay promotions from Apple
Additionally, you can find special offers for using Apple Pay in emails from Apple. For example, current offers include special savings at 1-800-Flowers, BJ’s, Crocs, and Outdoor Voices. These discounts range from a flat amount off your final cost or a percentage off your total when you check out with Apple Pay.
These offers are great if you can take advantage of them, but often only last for a few weeks. To stay on top of these special promotions, subscribe to Apple Pay emails from Apple.
How to use these deals to get the most cash back on Apple Pay
When possible, see if you can stack the available rewards to really up the cash back you’re eligible for. For example, say you’d like to take advantage of a special promotion through 1-800-Flowers, which offers $15 off select items when you check out with Apple Pay. If you add your Apple Card to your Apple Pay account and use that to pay, you could get the $15 off, plus earn 1% cash back on your Apple Card since you used Apple Pay.
If you want to know how to save money, also consider adding multiple credit cards to your Apple Pay account. That will make it even easier to jump on special offers as they arise, since you’ll just need to pull up an eligible card on your screen before you pay.
You might have to do some research to stay updated on the most current cashback offers on Apple Pay, but because Apple Pay is accepted by millions of retailers, it should be relatively easy to make sure you’re maxing them out.
Lucrative, Flat-Rate Cash Rewards
$200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months
Earn 2% cash rewards on purchases