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Can You Get Cash Back With Apple Pay? (3 Things to Know)

Can You Get Cash Back With Apple Pay
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If you’re wondering whether you can get cash back with Apple Pay, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Apple Pay does not provide cash back over and above what your credit or debit card provides. The only way to receive cash back directly from Apple is by using the Apple Card, which gives you up to 3% back on Apple Pay purchases at select merchants (and 1% everywhere).
  2. Because Apple Pay is a digital wallet rather than a credit or debit card, you earn whatever rewards you would earn with your linked payment card. In other words, your rewards accrue to your credit card provider and not your Apple Cash balance.
  3. Using Apple Pay doesn’t impact the merchant category code. Your purchase isn’t categorized any differently than it would be if you were paying with a physical card. So if you have a credit card that earns 5% cash back at grocery stores and you use Apple Pay at checkout, you’ll still earn 5%.

Tips For Maximizing Cash Back With Apple Pay

There are a few other ways you can maximize cash back with Apple Pay.

  1. Don’t forget to use cash back apps for online and in-store shopping. See our list of the best cash back apps. Often, this will create another 2-4% cash back (and sometimes more, if there’s a merchant promotion).
  2. The CardPointers app and Google Chrome extension can notify you when a specific merchant or card issuer has a deal for using Apple Pay.
  3. The Fluz app (see our Fluz App review) offers cash back on Apple Pay purchases at many major retailers. Plus, it allows you to stack that cash back with additional cash back from platforms like Rakuten and Swagbucks. However, using Fluz — which essentially sells you a discounted gift card to use at checkout — will change the transaction’s purchase category code, so this option is best for people whose payment card doesn’t offer any cash back.

Apple Pay Cash Back FAQs

While the information above covers the basics, here are answers to some other common questions regarding Apple Pay and earning cash back.

Are there special deals for using Apple Pay?

Apple partners with a select few merchants to offer discounts for using Apple Pay. These deals are not traditional cash-back rewards, however — they typically come in the form of a price reduction.

If you’re signed up for emails about Apple promotions, you’ll be notified when new offers are available. You can also see current offers on Apple Pay’s main page, as shown in the example below:

In addition, credit card companies will occasionally have special offers for using Apple Pay. For example, a recent offer from Discover allowed you to earn $5 cash back for spending $25 using your Discover card through Apple Pay.

Remember that these offers usually have to be activated with your credit card provider in order to get the rewards.

Is the Apple Card worth it to maximize cash back?

The Apple Card comes with no annual fee and offers 3% cash back on Apple Pay purchases from select merchants, 2% cash back on all other Apple Pay purchases, and 1% cash back when you use the physical card.

That 3% earning rate is above-average for a no-annual-fee card. Unfortunately, it’s limited to the following merchants:

– Ace Hardware
– Apple
– Duane Reade
– Exxon
– Mobile
– Nike
– Panera
– T-Mobile
– Uber
– UberEats
– Walgreens

Outside of those merchants, the 2% cash back you’ll earn using Apple Pay is another plus feature.

The question then comes down to how much of your typical spending you can earn either 2% or 3% cash back on. 

If the vast majority of your spending will fall within one of the 3% back merchants or stores that use Apple Pay, the Apple Card is a solid choice. It’s likely not the highest and most optimized strategy for maximizing your cash back (see below), but it may very well be the easiest — especially if you’re not someone who wants to spend time hunting for the absolute perfect rewards credit card.

Are there credit cards that pay higher rewards for using Apple Pay?

The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card offers 3x points per dollar on Apple Pay and mobile wallet spending. You can redeem your points for travel through the U.S. Bank booking portal at a rate of 1.5 cents per point. 

In other words, you’re getting 4.5 cents in value for each point you earn. 

The annual fee on this card is steep at $400, but that fee is offset with $325 in annual statement credits when paying for dining or travel with the card.

If you’re a high spender on digital wallets, this is certainly a card to look into. 

Can you get cash back on debit card purchases through Apple Pay?

As a general rule, debit card purchases are not eligible for cash back. However, if you have one of the very few debit cards that is an exception to this rule, you’ll earn your normal cash back rate when using that card through Apple Pay. 

Can you get cash back when using Apple Pay on your Apple Watch?

Yes, Apple Pay purchases made through your Apple Watch earn the cash back rate of the underlying payment card the same as when using Apple Pay on your iPhone.

R.J. Weiss
R.J. Weiss is the founder and editor of The Ways To Wealth, a Certified Financial Planner™, husband and father of three. He's spent the last 10+ years writing about personal finance and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, MSN Money, and other publications.

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