Google Pay is just the latest effort by Google to get Android users on board with mobile payments. What started as Google Wallet back in May of 2011 morphed into Android Pay five years later, accompanied by the wider adoption of terminals at brick-and-mortar stores that could work with phones to accept mobile payments.
In 2018, the service became known as Google Pay, undergoing a redesign at simplifying things for would-be users. And there plenty of Android devices capable of taking advantage of Google Play — any non-rooted device running Android 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher can use the app in theory, which covers a little less than 90% of all Android devices in use.
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But to put Google Pay to use in stores, you’ll need a phone with built-in NFC. (That’s near-field communication.) Most modern smartphones (barring the cheapest models) have an NFC chip, and you can look under Connected Devices or Wireless & Networks in your Settings app to confirm you’ve got NFC and to toggle the feature on.
At this point, most users are carrying around a credit card or debit card that supports Google Pay. (Google provides an updated list of supported cards and banks.) You also have the option of connecting to PayPal.
You can use Google Pay within supported apps and web sites, and a handful of transit agencies let you pay with Google Pay as well. The real benefit comes from being able to walk into a store and simply pay with your phone instead of handing a credit card or cash over to someone — that’s becoming especially crucial during the coronavirus pandemic when grocery stores and other open retail outlets are encouraging contactless payments.
Google provides a rundown of which retailers accept Google Pay, but you’ll be able to pay with your phone any time you see either a Google Pay or contactless payment logo. Of course, you’ll first have to set the service up. If you bypassed this step when first setting up your Android phone, here’s a quick rundown of how to set up Google Pay along with how to use your mobile wallet.
How to set up Google Pay
Little has changed since the days of Android Pay, with Google Pay featuring a pretty simplified process for getting up and running.
1. If Google Pay isn’t already installed on your phone, download it from the Play Store and launch the app.
2. You’ll be prompted to set your location permissions for Google Pay. Turning on location services lets Google Pay alert you when you’ve entered some place that lets you use the service.
3. To use your phone to pay in stores, tap Set It Up.
4. On the next screen, you can either select a credit card that’s already saved to your Google Account or add a new one. For this example, we’ll add a new card.
5. You’ll be prompted to line up your card within a view finder so that Google Play will scan in your information. You can also opt to fill in your card number, expiration date, and CVC manually. From there, you’ll be asked to fill in your address and phone number, though that information may auto-populate if it’s already affiliated with your Google account.
6. Read your issuer terms and tap Accept and Continue at the bottom, and Google will contact your bank to get your card approved.
7. Google Pay reminds you it can be used to pay when your smartphone is unlocked. Tap Got It at the bottom to confirm. (If for any reason you are not using a screen lock this is the time to add one, whether it is a pattern, PIN, or biometric option.)
8. Your credit card will require that you verify via text, web login, a security app, or email. Select your option and tap Continue at the bottom.
9. Enter the verification code you received and click Submit.
That’s it, you are all set to start using Google Pay in-stores, in apps, or online. If you need to add an additional card in the future, simply tap the blue action button in the lower-right corner of the cards screen and repeat steps 3 through 9.
Should you wish to ever remove a card, just tap on it. Then tap the three-dot menu in the upper right corner and select Remove Payment Method from the list of options that appears.
How to use Google Pay in stores
The most exciting aspect of Google Pay for most users is the ability to pay at a brick-and-mortar store with your smartphone, freeing you from the need to pull out or even carry a bunch of credit cards. There’s also a security benefit to using Google Pay as it doesn’t actually transmit your credit card information, rather it uses a unique encrypted number for the transaction.
While we still aren’t at the point that every store accepts mobile payments, the number is ever growing and the Google Pay app tries to help you out initially with a list of major stores that support Google Pay and a persistent card in the app that shows locations nearby you that have Google Pay.
As for the process of actually using the app in-store, it couldn’t be simpler.
1. Unlock your smartphone.
2. Hold it up to the payment terminal. NFC chips are typically at the top middle of most smartphones and it should register within 1-2 inches.
3. A checkmark will confirm payment is complete.