Apple Pay launched in 2014, followed shortly the next year by Google Pay and Samsung Pay. Since then, mobile payments have continued to take off. And nearly every big phone has some solution.
Not only does it limit the need to always bring a bulky wallet, but it also curbs the need to hand over your card (or cash) and having to punch in your PIN. That means fewer chances of coming into contact with germs — something that's all the more important these days.
And at the end of the day, it's an easy way to pay and really is hassle-free. But you can't tap to pay unless you have it set up on your smartphone, so let's dive into the platform by platform.
Apple Pay isn't just for mobile payments but is now a feature across the iPad, iPod Touch, Mac and even the Apple Watch. When you add a card, it will sync across your iCloud account. So even when you get a new device, the saved cards will appear and you can re-add with just the security code and a confirmation code. It's that simple, but it starts first with adding a card.
It's super easy to set up Apple Pay on your iPhone. You'll start by opening up the "Wallet" app, which should be on your main home screen (and if you've deleted it, you can always re-download it from the App Store).
Once in the Wallet app, you'll tap the plus sign in the top right hand corner. You'll then be presented with a splash screen on what Apple Pay is and tapping continue will open up a scan-to-add function. The camera on your iPhone is smart enough to scan the card in, or you can choose to enter the card number and expiration date manually. Either way, you'll be required to type in the security code.
Terms and conditions for the card will then appear and after agreeing to them, you'll be prompted to receive a confirmation code (via a call, text or email) and then type that in. After that, the card will be ready to use.
To access Apple Pay on the fly, double-tap the power button on your phone or open the Wallet app. You can then select the card you want to use and hold it up to the card reader after confirming your identity. Depending on your iPhone, you can do so quickly with FaceID or TouchID. You can also use Apple Pay in apps or on the web when prompted. The authentication is done the same way with a Touch ID or FaceID confirmation.
In fact, Apple Pay on the web works on the iPhone, a Mac (like the 16-inch MacBook Pro), an iPod Touch and even the whole iPad family. It's an impressive integration and works for a bunch of sites like Etsy, Poshmark, BestBuy, Target and many others. You can manage Apple Pay on your Mac by going into System Preferences and clicking Wallet & Apple Pay. From there, you can manage all the cards already brought over and even add a new one. You can use the FaceTime camera built into the Mac to scan in the card as well.
On the iPad, you can use the Wallet app like on the iPhone, or even open Settings and tap Wallet & Apple Pay. You can easily add a new card through your camera, manage the cards added and even remove a card.
And yes, Apple Pay also extends to the wrist since every Apple Watch supports it. And it's automatically authenticated by being on your wrist and having been unlocked. This way, if you're out for a run and have AirPods and just the Apple Watch, you can stop and get water or energy drinks and pay with just a tap.
Google Pay works on most Android phones. You'll need to have NFC or Near Field Communications built-in to use the tap to pay function.
Chances are, the app will be preloaded onto your device, but, if not, you can download the app from the Play Store on Android.
Once you open the Google Pay app, you'll authenticate it with your Google account. Once that's set, just tap add at the bottom of the screen. Like Wallet on iOS, you can scan the card to lock in the card number and expiration date, or type in those details manually. You'll then enter the security code, agree to the terms and conditions and then confirm with a code that can be texted, delivered in a call or emailed to you.
After that, you're ready to go. When you're in a store with Tap-to-Pay abilities, just open the Google Pay app and select your card. You'll then authenticate with a touch, pin entry or face scan to pay.
It's good to remember that almost every Android phone in recent years supports Near Field Communications (NFC) out of the box. So it really is just a download away to contactless payments. It's on the Pixel 4 XL and is even on the forthcoming LG V60 ThinQ.
For Samsung Pay, start by opening up the Samsung Pay app on your device and then select the menu option on the top left. From there, tap Cards and then the blue plus icon (Add Credit/Debit Card).
After that, the app will take you through the steps to register your specific card. You'll have to agree to your card's terms and conditions along the way. Samsung Pay supports up to 10 payment cards and imposes no limit on gift cards.
When you're checking out in a store, just simply swipe up from the center of the bottom of the screen to open Samsung Pay. From there it's just a tap away to pay after you authenticate. On Galaxy devices, you can use the fingerprint sensor, a facial scan or even a pin entry. So if you're using your new Galaxy S20 or Galaxy S20 Ultra, you can use the in-screen fingerprint sensor to buy stuff. Luckily, it also works on the Galaxy Note family and even the Galaxy A50.
Using mobile payments is quite simple and can even save you time. Plus, you don't have to worry about handing your card over to a stranger or inserting it into a pin pad that could potentially have a card skimmer on it.
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