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Last month, curious minds found code in the early iOS 15.5 betas hinting at a new “Apple Account Card” that would replace the defunct iTunes Pass. Now, it appears that Apple is ready to turn the key on this feature following the public release of iOS 15.5 earlier this month.
Since the official iOS 15.5 release notes didn’t mention this new Apple Account Card, some assumed that Apple was just preparing the underlying code for a later release — perhaps in iOS 15.6. However, it appears that it’s ready to go, and it’s rolling out now.
While it’s unclear how quickly that’s happening, the folks at 9to5Mac, who first found the references to it in April, have noticed the option to add the Apple Account Card appearing in the Wallet app on at least some iOS 15.5 devices.
What Is the Apple Account Card?
The new Apple Account Card is intended to be a virtual payment card that can be used in Apple Stores to spend money from your Apple ID balance. Think of it like a prepaid credit card for the Apple Store.
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Of course, in true Apple Pay fashion, there’s no physical card involved. Instead, the Apple Account card goes into Apple Pay just like a Visa or Mastercard, and customers can bring it up to draw from their stored Apple ID balance to make purchases at an Apple Store.
The Apple Account Card replaces the old iTunes Pass, which was disabled for most users with the release of iOS 15 last year. The iTunes Pass featured a QR code that customers could use at an Apple Store to load up a balance into their iTunes Store or App Store accounts.
However, this was a one-way system — the money could go in to be spent on digital purchases, but you couldn’t use it to make purchases at an Apple Store. It was designed as an alternative to buying iTunes Gift cards for folks who preferred not to use a credit or debit card with their iTunes or App Store accounts.
At the time, iTunes Gift Cards and Apple Store Gift Cards were entirely separate things. That changed in 2020 when Apple announced a new Universal Gift Card for “Everything Apple.” Following that, your Apple ID balance could be used for both digital purchases and physical products — even at an Apple Store. However, using it in person was a cumbersome process, requiring that you make your purchase through the Apple Store app like you would for an in-store pickup.
However, with the Apple Account Card, that process now becomes as easy as using a credit or debit card with Apple Pay; call up your Apple Account Card and tap it against the terminal just as you would any other payment card.
It’s also probably not a coincidence that this is happening the same week Apple is rolling out Tap to Pay on iPhone across its U.S. retail stores. This may likely be necessary for Apple to accept payments with the new Apple Account Card. Although Apple could upgrade its traditional merchant terminals and software to handle this, there’s no point in spending time and effort when those are being replaced with Tap to Pay on iPhone anyway.
How to Add the Apple Account Card to Your iPhone Wallet
You can also add the Apple Account Card to your Apple Wallet by following the same basic steps you would for any other payment card, transit card, or Digital ID.
Note that the option to add the card will only appear if you have a balance available on your Apple ID. There’s no point in adding it otherwise, as it’s the opposite of the iTunes Pass — it’s for spending money from your Apple ID, not adding money to your account.
- Open the Wallet app on your iPhone.
- Tap the plus button in the top-right corner.
- Tap Add Apple Account under Available Cards. If this doesn’t appear, the Apple Account Card isn’t available for you yet.
- Follow the confirmation instructions to add the Apple Account Card.
Once the card is in your wallet, your current Apple ID balance will be shown in the top-right corner of the virtual card, in the same way as it does for an Apple Cash card. Using the card works like Apple Cash or any other payment card: open your wallet, bring up the card, authenticate with Face ID or Touch ID, and tap it against the terminal in the Apple Store.
For now, it’s likely the Apple Account Card is limited to users in the United States. However, it shouldn’t take too long to expand internationally since this system is entirely under Apple’s control, unlike Apple Cash and the Apple Card, which require banking partnerships.
So, the rollout is most likely just a matter of ensuring that all the stores in each country are upgraded to accept the new Apple Account Card. If this is indeed tied to the rollout of Tap to Pay on iPhone in Apple Stores, that means we’ll probably see the Apple Account Card arrive in other countries at the same time that Apple rolls out that technology to its employees in those places.