You probably use your phone for just about everything – texting, gaming, shopping – but what about as a replacement for your wallet? Mobile payment apps such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay allow you to use your debit or credit card in stores and online without ever having to pick up a piece of plastic.
“Mobile payments make for more streamlined, convenient and secure payments than conventional credit card or debit card purchases,” says Attila Tomaschek, a researcher at digital privacy resource ProPrivacy. Though adoption of the technology has been relatively sluggish, mobile payments could make traditional payment methods obsolete. Here’s a closer look at how each of the three major mobile payment apps works.
How Apple Pay Works
Apple Pay is a mobile payment app designed for Apple devices. It allows users to make purchases in stores with their phone or Apple Watch at contactless payment terminals by employing near-field communication, as well as in apps and online. Users in the U.S. can send payments via Apple Cash through the Messages app using their iPhone or Apple Watch. The new Apple Card is also deeply integrated with Apple Pay.
“Apple Pay is really only beneficial for Apple device consumers,” says Jared Weitz, CEO and founder of small-business lender United Capital Source. “Apple Pay is a great option for payments based on its versatility and security. Not only can you make in-store purchases, buy apps and perform web transactions, but you can also send and receive money from family and friends.”
How to Pay With Apple Pay
To pay with Apple Pay using your iPhone’s Face ID function, double-click the side button and then look at your iPhone’s screen to authenticate the transaction. Or, you can enter your passcode instead. Next, hold the top of your phone close to the contactless reader. When the transaction goes through, the display will say “done” and show a check mark.
To use Apple Pay with your iPhone and Touch ID, rest your finger on Touch ID and then follow the same process of holding your phone near the reader. To pay with an Apple Watch, double-click the side button and hold the display of your Apple Watch near the contactless reader. You’ll feel a tap when the transaction goes through.
Note that all of these steps will result in paying with your default card. If you want to switch to another card, you’ll need to manually change it before holding your device to the reader. You can also use Apple Pay as an in-app payment method when you see it listed as a payment option.
Where Is Apple Pay Accepted?
In addition to being able to make payments to Apple services such as iTunes and the App Store, Apple Pay is accepted at millions of retailers. A few of the major companies that allow you to pay with Apple Pay include Best Buy, Costco, Macy’s, Starbucks and 7-Eleven.
Additionally, Apple Pay is used by certain transit systems in the Chicago; Portland, Oregon; and Vancouver, Washington, metropolitan areas, as well as transit apps, including those from Caltrain in San Francisco, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston and Metrolink in Los Angeles. You can also use Apple Pay on a few college campuses, including the University of Alabama and Duke University. Finally, it’s possible to make donations to many charities using Apple Pay, such as the American Red Cross and Save the Children.