In Apple’s attempt to completely rethink the credit card, it may have lost sight of how people actually use them.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based technology company announced plans to release a credit card earlier this year, and the product finally became available for U.S. customers this week.
Apple partnered with credit card giant MasterCard and investment bank Goldman Sachs on the so-called Apple Card, which consists of a digital app version synched to an Apple Pay account on an iPhone that can handle transactions at any retailers that accept it, but also comes with a physical card that users can use wherever the smartphone version isn’t usable.
The card is made out of titanium and laser-etched with the customer’s name and the Apple logo, giving it the same sleek, high-end design characteristic of most of the company’s products.
But also like other glitzy Apple products, the card’s design has already, in its first days, posed some problems — namely, that it can easily be damaged enough to lose its good looks and even possibly interfere with its usability.
Something as simple as keeping the card in a leather wallet or tucked inside the pocket of a pair of jeans can result in “permanent discoloration,” the company is warning customers.
‘If your titanium Apple Card comes into contact with hard surfaces or materials, it’s possible that the coating can be damaged,” the company said.
Avoid keys, other cards
The company advises users to clean their cards with a microfibre cloth and isopropyl alcohol to keep it looking sharp, and also warns to keep it away from things like keys and other sharp objects inside a purse or bag, and to keep it away from other cards. “If two credit cards are placed in the same slot, your card could become scratched,” the company said.
The card was only launched to the public in the U.S. this month and is set to launch in Canada this fall, but users who had early versions are already confirming that regular use does damage the card.
I can say from 2 months of having the card in my leather wallet, it no longer looks pretty
It’s not immediately clear if the damage to the card is cosmetic, or if typical use would result in the card being damaged enough to interfere with its use, such as losing its magnetic strip or embedded microchip.
A request for clarity from Apple by CBC News was not immediately returned, but if reactions on social media are any indication, the company has a bit of a design flaw on its hands.
One Twitter user noticed the loud noise the all-metal card makes if it is dropped.
dropping your apple card in a restaurant is about to become the equivalent of dropping your hydro flask in a crowded lecture hall <a href=”https://t.co/n3nNOQWceB”>pic.twitter.com/n3nNOQWceB</a>
It wouldn’t be the first time the design-savvy company has made a misstep. Early versions of the iPhone were plagued by a problem where the placement of a hand on the phone would cause the antenna to stop working, and later versions could be permanently bent if stored in a pants pocket.
CBC News has previously reported on battery problems with the iPhone 6, and Geek.com noted how Apple put the charging port for its wireless mouse on the bottom of the device, rendering it impossible to use while charging.
Sara Rathner, credit card expert at NerdWallet, says the company only has a problem on its hands if the card is, in fact, so fragile that regular use would interfere with its functionality.
“People walk around with cracked iPhones all the time,” she said in an interview. “It makes me laugh to think of treating a credit card as a piece of jewelry and cleaning them with a soft cloth.”
While Apple prides itself on its design, Rathner says the physical component of the Apple Card is detracting attention from the actual product, which isn’t really drastically better than other credit products already on the market
“Design matters but beautiful design is invisible,” she said. “You only notice when something doesn’t function … I don’t know if you need to be so precious about a card that only earns you one per cent cash back when you use it.”
Rathner says the card’s physical limitations may dissuade a few consumers, but ultimately it will be popular or not based on whether people think it’s a good value for what it does.
But she’s not convinced it is a better value. “The easiest way to keep this card pristine is not to put it in your wallet at all,” she said.