At a time when stores are encouraging customers to use contact-free methods of payment, Apple Pay isn’t just convenient — it’s becoming increasingly essential. That's because Apple Pay lets you purchase things just by placing a compatible device near a point-of-sale terminal without having to fumble for cash or a credit card. Since Apple Pay's debut in 2014, it has been a welcome addition to the iPhone, and now works on the Apple Watch, Mac and iPad, too.
Apple says that Apple Pay works with most debit and credit cards from leading banks. You can use the mobile wallet to pay for things at millions of brick-and-mortar stores — basically any store showing an Apple Pay or contactless payment logo accepts Apple Pay. In addition, you can use it to verify online purchases or send cash to friends via the Messages app. If you live in New York, Chicago or Portland, Apple Pay works with transit systems in those cities. (Apple Pay also works with transit systems in China, the U.K. and Canada among other places.) And if you use Apple Card — Apple’s credit card — you can use Apple Pay and earn 2% back on purchases.
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But before you can put Apple Pay to work, you’ve got to set it up by adding a bank or credit card. You’ll be prompted to do this the first time you fire up your iPhone, but in case you breezed past that step or want to add extra payment cards, it’s easy to go back and enable Apple Pay.
Here’s how to set up Apple Pay and how to use your phone to pay for things once you’ve got Apple Pay enabled.
How to set up Apple Pay
1. Open the Wallet app on your iPhone.
2. Tap the plus button in the upper-right corner of the screen.
3. You’ll be prompted to either enter a credit or debit card or apply for an Apple Card. For this step-by-step, we’ll enter a credit or debit card.
4. You’ll be taken to a screen to add cards. If you’ve got cards on file from a previous iPhone backup, you’ll be able to add those by entering their CVC. You can also add a different or a new card entirely if this is your first time using Apple Pay.
5. The Wallet app will prompt you to add a credit card in the frame of a view finder so that it can scan in your credit card number. You can also enter your credit card number, expiration data and CRV manually. Apple will confirm all this info with your card issuer and if everything’s OK, the card will be added to your wallet.
You’ll receive a notification when your credit or debit card is ready to use via Apple Pay.
How to use Apple Pay
You can use Apple Pay in a variety of ways, including in apps, on web pages, and to ride trains and subways. But the most common way to use Apple Pay is in stores at a point of purchase in lieu of swiping or dipping a credit or handling over cash. How to use Apple Pay in a store to make contactless payments varies depending on what iPhone you use.
With iPhone X or later
1. Double-click the Sleep/Wake button on the right side of your iPhone.
2. Select the card you want to use.
3. Glance at your iPhone if you’ve set up Face ID.
4. Hold your iPhone near the payment terminal. Your payment is complete when you see Done and a checkmark on the screen.
With and iPhone 8 or earlier
This first method works when you use your default payment card.
1. Place your finger on the Touch ID button on your phone.
2. Place the top of your iPhone near the contactless card reader. Your payment is complete when you see Done and a checkmark on the screen.
How to switch credit cards using Apple Pay
What if you’d like to pay with a different card stored in the Wallet app? Here’s how to quickly switch between cards.
1. Press the Home button twice, quickly.
2. Select your card.
3. Place your finger on the Touch ID button.
4. Place the top of your iPhone near the contactless card reader. Your payment is complete when you see Done and a checkmark on the screen.