Apple Releases the All New “Phantom Credit Score” and it’s All Wrong

Apple CEO, Tim Cook kicked off the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) “spring-loaded” event and announced the biggest head-scratcher that made no sense.

Cook announced a new way to “build credit” for the rest of your family that’s called “Apple Card Family. Cook said that Apple set out to completely re-invent the credit card and to help people live a healthier financial existence. “Our customers are loving all of the benefits of Apple Card,” said the Apple CEO. “And we believe this is the most successful credit card launch ever.”

Whether or not the Apple Card is the most successful credit card launch ever, we do not know. But I believe that combining credit as a family is a terrifying idea that’s all wrong. 

Here are Apple Card Family’s biggest claims:

  1. You can add your spouse as a user to your apple card and your spout and “build credit” along with you. I think Tim Cook said that this is some sort of “financial equality”.
  2. You can add any other members of the family from the age of 13 as a user of your Apple Card and they can also build credit.
  3. Parents can add controls and monitoring to their kids’ spending activities on the new Apple Family Card with their iPhone.

This new product and these features sound great from Apple’s colorful presentation but it’s breaking industry norms and could create an incredible false sense of creditworthiness and it is borderline discriminatory. 

Here are why Apple Family Card is a horrible idea:

  1. A single credit card doesn’t build credit. We all know that a single credit card is not enough to build credit. Any self-respecting lender or creditor will not simply look at a credit score and say… “here’s your next car loan!”. Lenders look at the entirety of a person’s credit history, the robustness of the credit report to make a comprehensive decision. A co-signer of your spouse or mom and dad’s apple card will be a curse, not a blessing.
  2. Apple Family Card creates a false sense of creditworthiness. From the kid’s perspective, having your parents’ Apple Card and somehow builds your credit gives them a false sense of creditworthiness and trivializes the amount of work and dear I say “responsibility” to build a good credit history? We are making it way too easy for kids to build credit. It fuels our over-privileged culture and ultimately misguiding our children. From the lender’s perspective, they have to completely rethink their underwriting strategy. Is this person truly responsible with their spending or is someone else paying these credit card bills? The common industry practice is that co-signers like spouses and children can’t use their spouse’s or their parent’s credit card to build credit. The reason is simple, they are not the one paying off the credit card debt.
  3. Apple Family Card is discriminatory. Tim Cook had said a few times during the announcement that he wants everyone to enjoy financial equality and this Apple Family Card product helps everyone in the family to build credit. However, we need to ask ourselves, what type of family are Apple users and of that, who are those individuals that qualify for an Apple Card, to begin with? According to CNN Business, “Household with an income level between $35,000 and $50,000 spent the least with Apple.” And according to BrandonGaille.com,  “Apple users are 94% more likely to be more affluent than others…”. This means that wealthy individuals and families are Apple Users and therefore they are more likely to be owners of Apple Card. That is to say, those that are well off and their children get to build credit, and the rest of us are left in the dark, again. This is not only discriminatory and creates a more disparate impact, it goes against the core value Apple’s trying to preach.
  4. Who’s getting screwed if Daddy stops paying the bills? It’s all fun and games until Daddy declares bankruptcy, which will run Johnny’s credit rather fast… 
  5. The beginning of rampant identity fraud. And how cab Apple tell who’s really our spouse and our kids? I rest my case.

I hope Apple can truly create a better financial future for all of us and not just their customers and certain demographics. Creating a false sense of creditworthiness will cause chaos with financial institutions, banks, and credit reporting agencies such as TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.

Lastly, building credit because daddy and mommy are paying the bills will ruin another generation of young people. How soon do we forget the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009? There was a reason why the United States government forbade banks to give out credit cards to young people…


 

 

Timothy Li is a Senior Contributor for Crowdfund Insider. Li is the Founder of Kuber, MaxDecisions, an Alchemy. Li has over 15 years of Fintech industry experience. He’s passionate about changing the finance and banking landscape. Kuber launched Fluid, a credit building product designed for college students to borrow up to $500 interest-free. Kuber’s 2nd product Mobilend is a true debt consolidation product, aiming to lower debt for all Americans. MaxDecisions provides financial institutions with the latest A.I. and Machine Learning algorithms and Alchemy is a state of the art end-to-end white-labeled lending platform powering some of the best Fintech companies in the world. Li also teaches at the University of Southern California School of Engineering.

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