Steve Jobs first proposed an Apple credit card in 2004


This Apple Card from 2004 never made it into anyone’s Apple Wallet.
This Apple Card from 2004 never made it into anyone’s Apple Wallet.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Apple Card announced this spring isn’t a new idea; it was first floated well over a decade ago. This came as a proposal by then-CEO Steve Jobs made so long ago it would have offered users rewards in the form of free iTunes music to load onto their iPods.

A blog post published today by Ken Segall describes the early version of Apple’s credit card. Segall is a former Apple ad man who worked closely with Steve Jobs for more than a dozen years. He is the guy who put the “i” in iMac and worked on the famous “Think Different” campaign.

Apple Card of 2004

Even back when Jobs first proposed it, the credit card would have been dubbed the Apple Card. And rather than offering cash back for purchases, it would have given shoppers something Apple had in abundance in 2004: music.

“Instead of offering frequent flier points or cash back, the Apple Card would be far cooler. It would offer free music. Purchases would earn iPoints, which could be redeemed for your favorite music on iTunes,” wrote Segall.

With the iPhone still 3 years away, Apple’s premier product was the iPod. This MP3 player, and digital downloads, had recently revolutionized the music industry. The proposed credit card would capitalize on that success.

But it wasn’t to be. “Steve worked to create a partnership with MasterCard, but apparently he couldn’t get the terms he wanted—so he pulled the plug,” according to Segall.

Apple Card of 2019

Steve Jobs passed away in 2011 so he never got the see the Apple Card come to fruition. It was announced in March and is scheduled for release this summer.

With music sales just a small percentage of the company’s business now, this credit card will offer cash back as a reward for users.



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