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Apple Pay, Apple Card and Apple Cash: Disentangling the Payment Features

Apple Wallet houses all three -- but what do they do and how do they work together?

Katie Teague Writer II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
Expertise Personal Finance: Social Security and taxes
Jessica Dolcourt Senior Director, Commerce & Content Operations
Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
Expertise Content strategy, team leadership, audience engagement, iPhone, Samsung, Android, iOS, tips and FAQs.
Katie Teague
Jessica Dolcourt
3 min read

Apple's payment ecosystem can be confusing with all the different names flying around. While a pioneering concept, the integration of payments into the iOS and watchOS requires a bit of familiarizing. Apple Pay, Apple Cash and the Apple Card all live within the Apple Wallet but have distinct functions.  Once you start using these products, you may find the convenience and flexibility they offer to be quite valuable. 

Apple Card, Apple Pay and Apple Cash are all accessible from your iPhone's digital wallet -- Apple Wallet -- but they each have their own purpose. Here's what they are, and how you'll use them.

Apple Pay is the linchpin

Apple Pay is the name of the system that makes digital payments with your iPhone possible. It lives in the Wallet app and was designed to replace the need to cart around physical payment cards. As with Google Pay and Samsung Pay, you load the details of your real-life credit cards and debit cards into the Apple Pay app. Then, you can call up your virtual credit card to make payments online or in stores with your iPhone instead of thumbing through your wallet for your card.

Apple Pay requires your authentication in order to kick off a payment. You'll either scan your face using Face ID, scan your fingerprint or type in your passcode to verify your identity. In stores, you'll hold the iPhone near the NFC payment terminal until you see confirmation. For online purchases, you'll verify your identity, and the software will take over from there to complete the purchase.

Apple Pay works on its own, but you can add an Apple Card as one of your credit cards (see below for more details) and can use Apple Cash to shuttle funds to and from your friends and family.


Apple's digital card lives in the Wallet app, but there's also a physical card.

James Martin/CNET

Apple Card is a credit account

Apple's credit card is backed by Mastercard and Goldman Sachs. It acts like a "real" credit card just like the plastic or metal card in your wallet or purse, with interest rates and up to 3% cash back, but it mostly lives as a digital card on your phone.

There's also a physical card element, with Apple shipping you a slick titanium rectangle with your name engraved on it. This is to use on the occasion that a brick-and-mortar store doesn't take Apple Pay.

What does Apple Pay have to do with it? Everything. Apple Card is one more card that you can use digitally with Apple Pay. Instead of loading in and using your usual bank card from Chase or Wells Fargo, you use your Apple Card from Goldman Sachs.

Convenience and a strong emphasis on security are two reasons you'd use Apple Card.

7/10 CNET Review
Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR19.24% to 29.49% Variable
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended CreditN/A
Reward Rates
  • Apple Card gives you unlimited 3% Daily Cash back on everything you buy at Apple
  • With every purchase you make using your Apple Card with Apple Pay, you get 2% Daily Cash back
Annual Fee$0
Rewards & Redemption Details

Apple Cash is peer-to-peer

Apple Cash is a service that's built into the Apple Pay platform that lets you send, receive and request money from others through iMessages. 

Apple refers to it as a "prepaid debit card in your Apple Wallet." It's similar to Venmo, but you'll have to add money to your Apple Cash account by using your debit card in the Wallet app. Apple Cash works across iOS devices like iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad and Mac.

To use Apple Cash, you must be at least 18 years old and be a US resident. You'll need to have the latest iOS or WatchOS on your device. You'll also want to make sure you're signed into iCloud on each device you want to send and receive money through. You launch the request in iMessages and confirm with Face ID, Touch ID or your passcode.

When you receive cash from a contact, you'll find it in a digital Apple Cash card in the Wallet (you'll have to agree to the terms and conditions to set this up). You can use this cash to make payments in stores, in apps and online -- or you can transfer your balance to your bank account. You can also transfer the balance to your bank account linked to Apple Pay.

*All information about the Apple Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.