Apple Card, Apple Pay, and iUP all fail on iPhone 13 pre-order day, exposing fragility of Apple’s expansion into credit and payment services

The news: iPhone 13 pre-orders went live early Friday morning. But buyers’ initial buzz of excitement at securing Apple’s latest smartphone was quickly replaced by frustration as those paying with Apple Pay, Apple Card, or using the iPhone Upgrade Program faced errors that stalled the checkout process, per 9to5Mac.

The problem: Customers using Apple’s own payments, credit, and iPhone upgrade services faced major issues that left many unable to complete their iPhone 13 purchases. Citizens One, Apple’s partner bank for the iPhone Upgrade Program, was also plagued with a variety of issues once preorders went live. Even buyers that were pre-approved for the yearly upgrade found their applications rejected by the website and Apple Store app.

  • Apple Pay in the Apple Store app and via the Apple Store website was also buggy— many users were unable to check out using their Apple Pay and had to enter their card details manually.
  • The Apple Card processing system went down with a variety of bugs. Users were unable to pay for their iPhone 13s using Apple Card—but other cards worked, which means Apple Card users missed out on the 3% Daily Cash incentive, a major feature of the service. 
  • Frustrated iPhone buyers opted to use other payment options like higher-interest credit cards or PayPal just to get an order in. Those that managed to get through later saw delivery dates pushed past mid-October.

What’s next: While new iPhone pre-order days are usually a big payday for Apple, the iPhone 13’s modest updates—as well as indications that only 10% of users plan to upgrade to the latest models—could result in an equally modest yield that may be further reduced by Apple’s pre-order fiasco. 

  • The collapse of its multiple payment and upgrade options on such a key day isn’t likely to show down iPhone 13 demand or sales, but its numerous frustrated customers could reflect poorly on Apple’s reputation.
  • Consumers’ difficulties in obtaining iPhone 13 orders using Apple’s own credit card, payments, and upgrade programs underscores the fragility of companies overextending their reach into complicated new segments like financial services.