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Apple Pay

What is Apple Pay and how do you use it?

published: 19 November 2021
Read time: 5 minutes

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

What is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is a way to make cashless payments by linking either your credit or debit card to your Apple account. Most Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or Macbook) are compatible with Apple Pay, making it a quick and convenient way to pay both in store and online. Apple Pay is accepted as a form of contactless payment by most UK retailers.

Holding Iphone over contactless card reader to pay using Apple Pay

How does Apple Pay work?

Apple Pay lets you securely tie your bank cards – credit cards or debit cards – to your Apple ID. These cards are all kept in an app called Apple Wallet, which you can then use to pay for whatever you like.

When you’re paying in person, Apple Pay uses the near-field communication (NFC) chip in your device to transfer funds using contactless payment. As of October 2021, the contactless payment limit has increased from £45 to £100 per transaction.

You can also use Apple Pay for online shopping and in-app purchases. Most app vendors now accept Apple Pay for transactions, while Apple allows you to tie your Wallet to its Safari web browser – so you can make third-party payments quickly without having to set up another account. This is ideal if you’re browsing online and want to purchase quickly without needing to input your card details.

Londoners can also tie Apple Pay to their Transport for London account, allowing them to pay for public transport across the whole TFL network.

How do you set up Apple Pay?

There isn’t an Apple Pay app as it’s part of Apple Wallet. This is built into all modern Apple devices (from iPhone 6 onwards) and allows users to securely store debit and credit card details, as well as boarding passes, train tickets, coupons and event tickets.

If you've already got a credit or debit card linked to your Apple ID, for instance for making iTunes purchases, you can add it to your Wallet. You’ll need to re-enter the card’s security code, and possibly complete more security steps as directed by your bank.

You can also add a new card to your account. To do this, open Wallet, tap “add a credit or debit card” and follow the steps to add a new card. This involves either taking a photo of your card or typing in its details.

Apple Wallet allows you to add as many cards as you like. You can pick which card it will use as the default for payments, but you can also select other cards as and when you want to use them.

To add a card to your Apple Watch, you’ll need to use your iPhone. Open the Watch app on your iPhone and go to the My Watch tab. Tap “Wallet & Apple Pay”, and follow the steps to add a card.

How do I use Apple Pay to make a payment?

How to use Apple Pay to make a payment varies slightly depending on whether you’re shopping in store or online.

Contactless payments in person

  1. Once you’re ready to pay, you’ll need to activate Apple Pay. How you do this will depend on the iPhone you’re using. If you don’t have a ‘home’ button, you’ll do this by double-clicking the side button of the phone. The Wallet screen will appear and you can then scan your face ID. If you have an older iPhone model with a ‘home’ button, you’ll need to rest you finger on the ‘home’ button until the Wallet screen shows.

  2. Hold your iPhone over the point of sale terminal (card machine, ticket barrier etc). Look for the Apple Pay or contactless symbol so you know where to position your phone.

  3. If you want to use the default credit or debit card (which will show on your phone screen), use Touch ID or Face ID to verify the payment. To switch to a different card, tap the card you want to use before you make the transaction.

Shopping online / within apps

  1. When prompted at the online checkout, select ‘Apple Pay’ as your chosen payment method.

  2. Select which card you’d like to pay with - either your default credit or debit card in your Apple Wallet, or a different one.

  3. Where necessary, enter your billing details, delivery address and contact information.

  4. Confirm your payment, and you’re good to go!

Where can I use Apple Pay?

You can use Apple Pay wherever contactless payments are accepted. This means shops, restaurants, coffee shops, pubs and Transport for London.

You can also use it on apps and websites displaying the Apple Pay logo.

What devices are compatible with Apple Pay?

Apple Pay works with any Apple device that runs iOS 8.1 or newer, including:

  • IPhone

  • IPad

  • Apple Watch

  • MacBook

Are there spending limits for Apple Pay?

The spending limit for Apple Pay transactions in the UK will vary by the retailer, but it’s likely you won’t be able to use Apple Pay for transactions over £100. This spending limit changed from £45 to £100 in October 2021. As Apple Pay is a form of contactless payment, the £100 limit is a security measure to avoid criminal stealing cards, or Apple devices, and making larger transactions.

What are the benefits of Apple Pay?

There are several benefits of Apple Pay as a payment method, including:

  • Security: Apple Pay is considered a very secure payment method because your card numbers aren’t stored by your device, aren’t shared by Apple Pay and aren’t sent to retailers with your payment. Instead, Apple Pay will give you a unique Device Account Number that’s encrypted and stored in a secure part of your Apple device

  • Convenience: Like other contactless payments, Apple Pay is a convenient way to pay. You don’t need to take your credit or debit card out of your wallet, and can pay quickly with your iPhone or Apple Watch while on the go

  • Spending abroad: You can use Apple Pay in countries and regions that accept contactless payments. Just make sure you check with your bank about any fees they charge for spending overseas. These overseas usage charges can often be high

What’s the difference between Apple Pay and Google Pay?

Google Pay and Apple Pay are very similar. Which one is right for you will largely depend on the type of smartphone or device you want to use to make payments.

Apple Pay

Google Pay


All iPhone models with face or touch ID (except the iPhone 5s). All iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad, and iPad mini models with Touch ID or Face ID. Mac models with touch ID, as well as those introduced in 2012 or later with an Apple Pay-enabled iPhone or Apple Watch.

Any Google device with NFC technology running Google 4.4 KitKat or above.

Wearable devices

Apple Watch 1st Generation, Series 1, Series 2 or later.

Any NFC-enabled smartwatch.

Participating banks

All of the major banks.

Most major banks, but not Barclays.

Fingerprint authentication



Contactless payments

Wherever the contactless payment logo is displayed: up to £100.

Wherever the contactless payment logo is displayed: up to £100 (or more with further verification).

Transport for London



In-app payments

Wherever the Apple Pay logo is displayed.

Wherever the Google Pay logo is displayed.

Web payments

Wherever the Apple Pay logo is displayed.

Wherever the Google Pay logo is displayed.


Built-in Wallet app.

Google Pay from Google’s Play Store.

Account required



Can be disabled remotely



For more information about making contactless transactions using credit and debit cards, take a look at our comprehensive guides to contactless payments and credit card security

MoneySuperMarket can also make it easy to find the right card to buy items and services both in person and online by allowing you to compare credit cards from a broad range of providers.

Other useful guides

For more information on different card payment methods, why not read these guides?

Compare credit cards supported by Apple Pay

MoneySuperMarket offers a range of credit cards from leading UK providers, including many which support Apple Pay. 

Our Eligibility Checker tool uses your details to do a ‘soft’ search, so we can show you which cards you’re eligible for without harming your credit score.

Just give us a few details about you, your finances and the type of card you want, and we’ll scour the market to find the perfect card for your needs.

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