iOS 18 Wallet: 3 big changes coming to your iPhone

iOS 18 Tap to Cash feature demonstrated by two iPhones digitally exchanging payments
(Image credit: Apple)

iOS 18 brings two noteworthy changes to the Wallet app — one giving you new ways to pay back friends and the other giving you access to more information when you store digital tickets in the app. Both figure to be welcome improvements to the iPhone software when the full version of iOS 18 arrives this fall around the same time that Apple introduces the iPhone 16 lineup.

You won't have to wait until then to find out what's new in Wallet, as the iOS 18 public beta is set to arrive this month. People who've already downloaded the iOS 18 developer beta have also provided more details on the Wallet changes to augment what Aple already told us in its iOS 18 preview during WWDC 2024.

Here's a look at Wallet's two biggest changes, along with a third feature that introduces new payment methods to your iPhone's digital wallet.

iOS 18 Wallet: Tap to Cash

An iPhone transfers money wirelessly to another phone using Tap to Cash in iOS 18

(Image credit: Apple)

When I need to settle up accounts with friends, whether we're splitting a bill for a meal or they've picked up tickets for an upcoming game, I turn to Apple Cash. That Wallet feature that lets me pull money from my bank account and send it to a friend over Messages. I find it a lot more convenient than Venmo or PayPal.

iOS 18 figures to make things even more convenient. Now we just have to be standing next to each other with our iPhones in hand, as the updated version of Wallet adds a Tap to Cash feature where you can transfer money to another person just by bringing your phone close to theirs. Transfers are authenticated with the usual iPhone security methods — FaceID, passcode or Touch ID.

Apple hasn't really gone into depth on the mechanics of Tap to Cash, but the concept sounds similar to the NameDrop feature introduced with iOS 17 last year. If you recall, that feature let you transfer contact information with another iPhone user by bringing your phones next to each other; in the same way, IOS 17 added proximity sharing for transferring over photos and files. We'd guess that Tap to Cash works the same way.

There's additional good news if you're an Apple Watch owner. Tap to Cash is part of watchOS 11, too, so your smartwatch joins the list of devices taht can send or receive money. People who've used the iOS 18 developer beta also note that there's a Tap to Cash control available in the revamped Control Center, allowing you to initiate transfers more quickly.

Note that as an extension of the U.S.-only Apple Cash feature, Tap to Cash will only be supported in the U.S.

Paying with rewards

WWDC 2024 presentation showing how you can pay with points in the iOS 18 wallet app

(Image credit: Apple)

While we're on the subject of payments, Apple noted briefly in its WWDC keynote that Wallet is gaining support for making payments by redeeming points in Apple Pay. Details are extremely sparse on this feature, which will depend on whether your bank or card provider is participating in offering a rewards program via Apple Pay.

Additionally, you'll be able to access information on installment payments from your bank through Wallet in iOS 18. Again, this feature requires buy-in from your bank if you're going to take advantage of it.

Event guides

iOS 18 event guide in wallet app

(Image credit: Apple)

Wallet has established itself as a useful place for stashing digital tickets, boarding passes and the like. But apart from flashing your ticket at an usher upon your arrival at the venue, you probably don't spend a lot of time with this aspect of Wallet. That may change with the addition of Event Guides to the app in iOS 18.

In iOS 18, the tickets you have stored in Wallet could come with a guide assuming the ticket provider is partnering with Apple on the feature. Guides can include information about the venue itself — what time parking lots open, what the weather forecast looks like and more. Your ticket could also feature a map of the venue itself. Apple hasn't said as much, but I could easily see tickets for sporting events linking to previews of the upcoming match-up in, say, the iPhone's News app.

We'll get a fuller sense of how useful Event Guides are once we have a chance to see the feature in action, but it certainly seems like Wallet is expanding its scope beyond just serving as the digital storage for payment data, passes and ID cards.

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Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.