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Apple Card Family: 5 things you need to know about sharing Apple's credit card

Ready to share your Apple Card with a friend or family member? We dig into what you need to know about the new account-combining feature.

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Everyone who joins your Apple Card Family can get a titanium Apple Card. 

James Martin/CNET

Two years after the Apple Card's initial release, Apple has been making some big changes. More specifically, Apple unveiled Apple Card Family, an initiative where iPhone owners who are part of the same Apple Family Sharing group can share an Apple Card account (more details on Family Sharing below). With the relatively new Apple Card Family service, you can invite a child or partner to share your Apple Card account, giving them a digital and physical version of an Apple Card of their own, but leaving you with the bill at the end of the month (they even get to keep any Daily Cash they earn). Don't worry, you can set spending limits if necessary. 

When Apple Card Family was first announced, the service didn't support merging two existing Apple Card accounts (for example, if you and your spouse each had your own cards) into one joint account. In July, however, Apple released iOS 14.7, which allows existing Apple Card users (who are part of the same Apple Family Sharing group) to combine their accounts. The process takes just a few minutes of your time and is done entirely on your iPhone. 

If you have questions about Apple Card Family, how it works, what kinds of accounts you can create or how to invite someone, I'm here to answer them. I dug through the support documents and have been using the feature since its release in May. Below I'll break down the major points.

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Who can I share my Apple Card with?

To invite someone to share your Apple Card account, they will need to be a member of your Family Sharing group. You should take a few minutes and set up Family Sharing if you haven't yet. Not only does it mean you can invite members to your Apple Card account and make purchases, but you can also share app purchases and iCloud storage (among other features).

Family Sharing groups are limited to a total of six members (you plus five others) -- the same user limit as for Apple Card Family. 

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The physical Apple Card can be used just like a normal credit card. 

Sarah Tew, CNET

What's the difference between an Apple Card Family co-owner and a participant?

When you invite someone into your Apple Card Family, you'll be asked to select whether the person will be a co-owner or participant. They're two very different types of accounts, each with its own purpose. 

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Brett Pearce/CNET

Co-owner: A co-owner account has the same responsibilities and requirements as the main account holder. That means they'll be equally accountable for paying the card balance and ensuring payments are made on time. A co-owner will build credit on their own based on the Apple Card. They will also be able to manage participants, request physical Apple Cards for participants under 18 and view all activity on the shared Apple Card account. This is the option you'll select when combining two existing Apple Card accounts. 

Participant: A participant isn't responsible for the account balance or making any payments. This option is designed for giving someone over the age of 13 an Apple Card that you manage and pay for. They'll only have access to their own transaction history, not the entire account's history. The account owner can set a spending limit for each participant. Participants who are age 18 or older can order their own physical Apple Card and opt in to building credit with their account. 

Both account types will get the benefit of earning Daily Apple Cash and will have immediate access to the digital Apple Card on their iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch once they've accepted an invite. 

What do I need to do to combine Apple Card accounts? 

To start with, both you and the person you want to merge Apple Card accounts with will need to have iOS 14.7 or above installed on your iPhones. Download and install the update by opening the Settings app on your phone, then going to General > Software Update and installing any pending updates. 

Once you both have iOS 14.7 or higher installed, you'll use the Wallet app to send a co-owner invite to the person you want to create a joint Apple Card account with. Instructions detailing how to send an invite are covered in the next section. 

How do I invite someone to my Apple Card Family?

Whether you're merging existing accounts or adding someone in your Apple Family Sharing group to your Apple Card Family, the process is the same. Only instead of showing an error message when you try to merge accounts, as was the case when Apple Card Family first launched, you can now finish the process. 

On your iPhone, open the Wallet app and select your Apple Card. Next, tap on the three-dot icon in the top-right corner of the screen, then select Share my Card, followed by Continue

You'll be presented with a list of eligible people who are in your Family Sharing group that you can send an invite to. Tap the person's name, then select the account type you'd like them to have. Follow the prompts to finish sending the invite. If you select someone in your family group who already has an Apple Card, you'll be asked to enter your yearly income, and then confirm you want to send an invite that will begin the process of merging your accounts. 

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If recently updated, you may even see an alert to share your card in the Wallet app. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

How do I accept an Apple Card Family invitation?

If you're on the receiving end of an invite to share an Apple Card, you'll need to take a few minutes to complete the sign-up process on your iPhone. Once the account owner sends you an invite, you'll get an alert on your phone. Open the alert, or unlock your phone and open the Wallet app. In the top-right corner you'll see a notification badge -- tap it. Follow the prompts to complete the setup. 

For participants, you'll only need to accept the Apple Card invite. Optionally, you can enter your Social Security number to start building credit if you're over 18 years of age. 

For co-owners, you'll need to go through the complete Apple Card sign-up process that includes a credit check and entering your personal information. 

If you're combining two existing accounts, you'll go through a similar process to when you first signed up for the Apple Card. When you receive and accept the invite, you'll be presented with an account offer containing a credit limit and APR. If you accept it, the person who invited you will receive a notice of their own that they need to review the offer and accept it as well. Once both parties have accepted the offer, it will take a few minutes for Apple to process the change and merge the two accounts. 

Within 30 minutes or so you'll be able to see past purchases and payment history, and you'll begin to see any new transactions show up in the Wallet app with the person's name next to the charge. 

After mastering Apple Card Family, take a few minutes to learn more about how to use your iPhone. iOS 14 is full of features that are downright cool, even though some of them are hidden. And if you're new to the iPhone, make sure to check these settings right away