Apple Card’s ‘enhanced security’ takes aim at fraud


Apple Card in POS
Stealing someone’s Apple Card number is designed to be very hard.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The new Apple Card offers some unusual security features, all designed to prevent this credit card’s number from being used without authorization, either in a store or online.

The fact that the card number isn’t printed on it anywhere is just the start. “The real key to the enhanced security here is happening behind the scenes,” said Craig Vosburg, President of Mastercard North America.

Visible and invisible security

The most obvious security measure is the hidden credit card number. “Not having a card number on the physical card helps certainly because somebody can’t just write that down and take it,” Vosburg told CNBC.

This should help with the nervousness many American feel when a server takes their credit card away after a meal to charge the purchase.

But Mastercard’s efforts to protect the credit card number are just getting started. “We’re taking the digital representation of that sixteen-digit number and scrambling [it] into a code that only we and Goldman Sachs can recognize,” said Vosburg. “We know it’s meant to be used with that Apple device and if it shows up somewhere else, we know it’s been compromised and we can kill it.”

Goldman Sachs is the bank that’s backing Apple’s card. It has promised to not sell information on card holders’ purchases, as other banks do.

Multiple card numbers

The card number on the Apple Card’s magnetic strip used for brick-and-mortar transactions is different from the one intended for online purchases. This second number is the one more likely to be compromised, but it can be easily deactivated and switched to a new one without needing to change cards.

These dual numbers aren’t something most card holders will ever need to bother with, as purchases made with either number are listed together in the iPhone’s Wallet app.

After weeks of limited availability, Apple opened up applications to all Americans for its new credit card today. (Don’t miss Cult of Mac’s Apple Card review.)

Apple Car


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.