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Apple Pay

How does Apple Pay work? A complete guide 

Victoria Russell
Written by  Victoria Russell
5 min read
Updated: 28 Feb 2024

Apple Pay can be a convenient payment option – giving you the option to pay with your iphone or watch, both in store and online. Our guide covers how it works and what to consider

Tap, pay, done: the ins and outs of Apple Pay

In the bustling world of digital wallets and mobile payments, Apple Pay has emerged as a frontrunner since its introduction in 2014. Designed to streamline the checkout process, it has become synonymous with convenience and security. Let's delve into what Apple Pay is, how it works, and how it stacks up against other payment systems.

Holding Iphone over contactless card reader to pay using Apple Pay

What is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is a mobile payment and digital wallet service that transforms how you make purchases. By linking your Apple account to your debit or credit cards, you can use your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or MacBook for contactless payments. It's a seamless blend of technology and finance, aiming to replace the physical wallet with a secure digital one.

How Apple Pay works

At the heart of Apple Pay is the Apple Wallet app, which securely stores your credit or debit card information. When it's time to pay, the near-field communication (NFC) chip in your Apple device communicates with the payment terminal, and with a wave of your device, the transaction is complete. It's not just about tapping your phone at the store; Apple Pay also simplifies online and in-app purchases.

Setting up Apple Pay

Getting started with Apple Pay is straightforward. The Apple Wallet app comes pre-installed on all compatible Apple devices. Here's how to set it up:

  1. Open the Wallet app on your device.

  2. Follow the prompts to add your credit or debit card information.

  3. Verify your card with your bank.

  4. Once added, select your default card for payments.

You can also add cards to your Apple Watch via the Watch app on your iPhone, ensuring that even when your phone isn't handy, your wallet is still on your wrist.

Using Apple Pay in-Store and online

When you're ready to pay in-store, double-click the side button and glance at your iPhone for Face ID or place your finger on Touch ID. Hold your device near the payment terminal until you see a checkmark or feel a vibration. For online and in-app purchases, select Apple Pay at checkout, choose your card, and you're all set—no need to enter your billing and shipping details every time.

Apple Pay's contactless limit

In the UK, contactless payments with Apple Pay can exceed the standard £100 limit, subject to retailer participation. This higher limit not only adds convenience but also speeds up the checkout process.

Safety of Apple Pay

Security is a cornerstone of Apple Pay. It uses a device-specific number and unique transaction code, meaning your card number is never stored on your device or shared with merchants. This advanced security feature gives Apple Pay an edge over traditional card payments.

Pros and cons of Apple Pay

  • Advantages:

    • Convenience of quick payments.

    • Higher contactless limits than traditional cards.

    • Enhanced security features.

  • Disadvantages:

    • Not accepted by all retailers.

    • Potential for overspending due to ease of use.

    • Dependence on device battery life.

Comparison with other payment systems

Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay share many features, but the best fit for you depends on your device. Whether you're an iPhone enthusiast, an Android devotee, or a Samsung supporter, there's a digital wallet out there for you.

Additional resources

For those looking to dive deeper into the world of contactless payments, we've got you covered. Check out our guides on contactless payments and credit card security for more information.

Credit Card contactless payments

The wave of contactless is here, with nearly all credit cards now supporting the tap-and-go feature. Look for the contactless symbol on your card to see if it's enabled for these quick transactions.

Credit Card eligibility checker

Before you apply for a new credit card, use our Eligibility Checker tool. It's a smart way to see which cards you might qualify for without impacting your credit score.

Comparing credit cards with MoneySuperMarket

When it comes to shopping for credit cards, MoneySuperMarket is your ally. We allow you to compare credit cards from a variety of UK providers, many of which are compatible with Apple Pay.

MoneySuperMarket is a credit broker – this means we’ll show you products offered by lenders. We never take a fee from customers for this broking service. Instead, we are usually paid a fee by the lenders – though the size of that payment doesn’t affect how we show products to customers.