Over the last year I’ve delved deep into the world of credit card rewards, maximizing redemption values, earning points and cashback, and taking advantage of lucrative welcome bonuses. One of the apps I’ve used to learn more about all of this is CardPointers, an excellent app by indie developer Emmanuel Crouisier.
I had the chance to speak to Crouisier about CardPointers, iOS 16, what it’s like to be a full-time indie developer in 2022, and much more. Plus, an exclusive discount and offer for 9to5Mac Reader.
Handy: CardPointers can help maximize credit card rewards
The competition in the credit card industry has intensified significantly in recent years. Companies like American Express, Chase, and Capital One have boosted their offerings with massive welcome bonuses, new redemption offers, lucrative spending and reward tiers, and more.
From experience, this can be overwhelming and confusing at first. It’s easy to make mistakes; especially when card companies tempt you to redeem for low redemption values. CardPointers is designed to help you navigate all of these situations.
When you open CardPointers for the first time, you will be prompted to add the credit cards you already have. During this process, you can add the date of your approval, adjust bonus categories if needed, and view all available offers.
Including the date you were approved for a card is especially important if the card includes a welcome bonus or annual fee. CardPointers can help you track your progress towards a welcome bonus and remind you when your annual fee will be charged.
The latter is especially important if you contact your card company and want to see if they have any offers of storage to offset the annual fee. (Note: they usually exist, you just need to threaten cancellation/downgrade of your card beforehand.)
After adding your existing cards to CardPointers, you can tap the Pointers tab to see a breakdown of the best cards for different spend categories. These suggestions are based solely on the cards you already have. For example, if you have the Amex Gold Card, you’ll likely find that it’s the best option for most restaurant and grocery store purchases.
The Dashboard tab in the CardPointers app contains additional information about your cards. This includes a list of your cards, total annual fees, your active offers and more details on the best cards for different spend categories.
Finally, the ‘dashboard’ also includes a summary of the month’s best card offers in terms of welcome bonuses. If you’re looking to expand your credit card arsenal, this is a very handy tool to see welcome bonuses for some of the best cards.
One of my favorite aspects of CardPointers is the Safari extension. The Safari extension is available on iPhone, iPad and Mac. Their main purpose is to tell you the best credit card to use on a specific site to maximize the cashback or points you get for a purchase. For example, if you book a hotel, the CardPointers extension will show you which of your cards offers the best rewards for that purchase.
Another excellent benefit of the CardPointers extension for Safari is that it supports the ability to activate all your available offers on the Chase and American Express websites.
When you visit Chase or American Express, you’ll see a CardPointers notification that you can use to quickly opt-in to your offers. Once you do this, the offers will also be synced to your CardPointers account and taken into account for any suggestions and advice.
CardPointers supports a number of different system functions of iOS, macOS and iPadOS. This includes things like App Clips, Sign in with Apple, home screen widgets, Quick Note, Siri integrations and more. There’s also a dedicated Apple Watch app, as well as apps for iPad and Mac.
You can get started with CardPointers through this link and receive an exclusive 20% discount if you are a 9to5Mac reader.
I had the chance to talk to CardPointers developer Emmanuel Crouisier this week. One thing that particularly interested me was what he has planned for iOS 16 and Apple’s other new software releases coming this fall. His answer? Basically everything.
Crouisier: On the first day of WWDC, I always think I just need to add a few small things to my app to make it feel fresh, but once I’m done watching all the relevant session videos, I’m done a to-do list with over 100 items. This year is no different.
- App Intents: These make creating new shortcuts *so* quick and easy for developers. I already had 5 shortcuts in the app, but with the ability to automatically enable one upon app install, it makes it that much more accessible to users who wouldn’t normally venture into the Shortcuts app. I’ve made some major updates to my What Map? Link, and now a user can just say the name of a store instead of just the type of purchase they’re making, and the app will instantly tell them which card to use there to maximize their points, or an Amex or Chase -Offer to use what they have there. It even works fully with Siri. So if a user just has their AirPods plugged in, they can use Hey Siri and know which card to use in a second, without having to pull out their phone or check the Clock app.
- focus filter: Apple finally got me to use the focus modes thanks to them and I can’t imagine working any other way now. I followed Apple’s guidance here on how to implement it and used it throughout my work focus to only show my business cards throughout the app and I created a custom focus mode called Travel which I set to filter out all the cards with Exchange fees in the app so that I am not surprised by a 3% surcharge on my purchases abroad. It’s a feature that many users have been asking for and the integration via focus filters has been perfect.
- Lock Screen Widgets: I’ve had complications with the watch app and widgets since v1, ever since they were available, and now I have a new place for users to place the information that matters most to them. This will be a great place to add a reminder of a special category bonus and expiring offers, and I’ll explore some new ideas as well.
- Swift charts: This is the most amazing API I’ve ever seen from Apple. In just a few lines of code, you can get really nice charts with great accessibility features, but it can do some really complex things with a few more lines; it’s a great addition to SwiftUI. There are many uses for charts in the app that I have wanted to do for a while but didn’t want to create my own chart library. Problem solved!
Earlier this year, Crouisier made the decision to quit his full-time job at a startup and focus full-time on CardPointers. Given the broader context of the recent changes in the App Store, I asked him how his first six months as a full-time indie went.
crouvisier: I think this is the best decision I’ve ever made for myself! I’ve been working on CardPointers since 2019, and most of that time I’ve also worked in a startup, which meant ~16 hour work days, sacrificing sleep to have time to work, no evenings or weekends to relax, and I definitely have hit some unhealthy burnout periods, especially in late summer, preparing for the iOS release days every year.
Since I quit the startup job and was able to focus solely on CardPointers, literally everything in my life has improved: I sleep well every day, I can relax (some) evenings and weekends (I’m still a bit of a workaholic) , and CardPointers are doing better than ever – my first 2 months focused solely on the business I tripled sales in 2 months by focusing on marketing the app and expanding and growing the business rather than just the app to enhance.
Apple’s Small Business program was great for saving 15% on App Store sales, but I’ve found many benefits in using web checkout through Stripe and RevenueCat to save even more and last longer on the to remain maximum sales limit for small business . From a user perspective, nothing beats the simplicity of an in-app purchase, aside from a discounted price via Apple Pay through a web checkout flow. The two together work fantastically well to cover all types of users.
Finally, given his in-depth and unrivaled knowledge of the credit card industry and rewards, I asked Emmanuel what he thought of the Apple Card. His advice? You’re probably better off with a different card.
crouvisier: There are so many other benefits of a good rewards card, like a Chase Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, Citi Premier, or Amex Gold card. These cards allow you to earn transferable points that you can transfer to airlines and hotels to get much more value from the points you earn – and their point multipliers for most categories are also much higher than the Apple Card.
The Apple Card allows you to get a maximum of 3% back on your purchase while the cards I mentioned allow you to get 5x points back in some categories like restaurants, gas stations etc. and those points are worth even more as you can use them for things like Redeem business class seats to Europe.
If someone spends $10,000 on their Apple Card in a year, they’ll get back at most $300, while the same $10,000 they spend on a good rewards card can earn them 50,000 points, and those points can be worth 4 cents or more on a good redemption, meaning the actual value would be $2,000. Literally 7x more value from using a good rewards card, and that’s exactly what CardPointers helps users to do – earn more on every purchase just by paying with the right card.
Even if you just want to focus on cashback, other cards can earn the same cashback as the Apple Card at even more categories and retailers. I’d love to see the Apple Card continue to improve their income tiers, and more and more banks are doing business directly with certain merchants as a form of advertising, so I think we’ll continue to see more of that with all cards as a new revenue stream for them.
CardPointers is available as a free download, with an in-app subscription to unlock CardPointers Pro features.
9to5Mac Readers can save 20% on CardPointers Pro annual and lifetime plans. If you upgrade to the Lifetime plan using this link, you’ll even get a $100 savings card, making the upgrade virtually free.
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