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Among the many new Apple announcements, one very interesting and impactful revelation has flown under the radar – Apple has a program to help you improve your credit.
The tool is called Path to Apple Card, and it was created for a very specific purpose: to aid people who failed their credit check when applying for an Apple Card, so they can get the Apple Card later with better credit.
If you were denied your Apple Card application for bad credit reasons, you probably have a lot of questions about this Path program – like “Does this really work?” and “How does this affect my overall credit score?”
Well, Path to Apple Card certainly isn’t for everyone, but for Apple fans with middling credit who need a little help along the way, it could be a good option for improving their financial situation – and, of course, finally getting that Apple Card. Here’s everything you need to know.
Path is a monthly program that’s run by Goldman Sachs, the financial firm that manages Apple’s credit checks. It can last up to four months, at which time you apply for the Apple Card again with a greater likelihood of getting accepted (it’s not guaranteed, but the program is designed to make it happen). Along the way, you take certain steps to improve your credit with good financial decisions and avoid making mistakes that would lower your credit further. At the end, you are invited to apply for the Apple Card once more, and Goldman Sachs runs another credit check.
Starting the Program
First you need to see if you can opt into Path – and this is not guaranteed. When your application for the Apple Card is first declined, Goldman Sachs will run an automatic review of the financial information you provided.
If it looks like your credit is right on the line where a few months of good financial habits will push you over into qualification, then you will get a message about enrolling in Path to Apple Card.
If it looks like Path can’t really help your financial situation, then your application will be declined and you won’t get a message about the program.
Path is designed to last for four months. At the beginning of the program, and the end of each month, Goldman Sachs will provide a report detailing the specific steps someone in your situation should take to improve their credit, and how they’re doing so far. Common steps to take are largely practical, and may include:
- Paying balances and fees on credit cards and other lines of credit.
- Making timely loan payments for any debt-based on assets (mortgage, auto loan, etc.).
- Resolving past-due balances on things like student loans, car loans, etc.
- Avoiding opening any new lines of credit.
- Avoiding foreclosures and other types of repossession.
Note that some debts, like medical debts, are excluded from the equations. You can opt-out of the program at any time while you are in it.
Reapplying for the Apple Card
At the end of the Path period, if all goes well, you will be invited to reapply for an Apple Card through the program. This invitation lasts for 14 days, during which you must apply before your Path consideration ends.
Note that being part of the Path program does appear to improve your chances of being approved specifically for an Apple Card, and if you wait for the two weeks to lapse you will be judged by more standard (and presumably harsher) criteria.
However, the invitation to apply is not a guarantee. You can follow all the suggested guidelines and still fail to be approved. This may happen if your monthly income has decreased while in the program, or if you got a new credit card, etc.
Comparison to Alternatives
How does Path work as a general credit improvement program? Well, it’s very nice that you get a personalized report each month with advice on what actions you should take based on your financial profile. But Path only lasts up to four months, and doesn’t have anywhere near the depth of a real credit and finance management app.
If you’re looking to really make a long-term difference in your finances and build up your credit score permanently, we suggest using Credit Karma, or possibly Mint’s acclaimed budgeting and credit app. These will be much more useful for making drastic changes. Of course, they won’t help you get an Apple Card directly, but indirectly they can improve your credit until you’re in a position to choose a new credit card that’s right for you.
Path to Apple Card is not for those who are truly struggling with poor finances and bad credit – a nonprofit financial planner or a more in-depth credit management app is a better choice in those cases. But for people who just need a minor credit boost and some helpful advice on how to do it, Path can be a win-win: a way to improve your credit all around, while also finally qualifying for that Apple Card you want.