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How to Use Apple Pay: Set Up Tips and Everything Else You Need to Know

Thanks to its ease of use, the ubiquity of the iPhone and rising Apple Watch sales, Apple Pay has quickly established itself as the leading mobile payment option. According to Loop Ventures, Apple Pay has more than 252 million users globally, and there are 24 countries where it is accepted.

With Apple Pay, you can make purchases from your iPhone, Apple Watch and even some Macs on everything from food and clothes to Uber rides and digital goods. And if you want to split a bill with your friends, turning to your phone to facilitate that transaction is as simple as a few taps.

Apple Pay comes baked into the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Safari browser. You’ll never need to pull out the plastic. Apple has generally done a fine job of taking the complexity out of the Apple Pay experience. And whether you’re buying something in-store or online, there’s a relatively simple process for getting it right.

Here’s everything you need to know about using Apple Pay.

Where can I use Apple Pay?

Apple is quick to note that you can use Apple Pay at “millions” of locations, thanks to the company opening its support for point-of-sale platforms and retailers all across the U.S. And since it works with websites and apps, you can use Apple Pay at millions of more spots from the comfort of your home.

Most notably, perhaps, are the places you can’t use Apple Pay: Walmart and Amazon.

Here’s a list of just some of the companies that Apple promotes partnerships with for its Apple Pay platform:

  • Airbnb
  • B&H
  • Chipotle
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Etsy
  • Fandango
  • Groupon
  • Grubhub
  • Hotel Tonight
  • Hotwire
  • Instacart
  • Jet
  • Lululemon
  • Lyft
  • MLB.com
  • Panera Bread
  • Seamless
  • Sephora
  • Staples
  • Starbucks
  • StubHub
  • Target
  • Ticketmaster
  • Wish

Which banks work with Apple Pay?

Once upon a time, Apple would list out all the banks that worked with Apple Pay. But now, thanks to partnerships the company has signed with financial institutions, the iPhone maker simply says that the service “works with most credit and debit cards from nearly all banks.

Therefore, the best way to find out is by trying to add your card to Apple Pay and see what happens.

Can I use anything other than debit and credit cards with Apple Pay?

Absolutely. In fact, the Wallet app on iOS that houses Apple Pay can be used to store everything from gift cards and rewards cards from stores like Walgreens and United Airlines to student ID cards at participating universities. You can also use it to store boarding passes for your next trip.

How to set up Apple Pay on your iPhone or iPad

If you’re looking to add cards to your Apple Pay account, doing it from the iPhone makes the process seamless and quick.

Here's how to get started.

1. Head to the Settings app on your iPhone.

2. Scroll down to Wallet & Apple Pay and tap that.

3. You’ll see an option in that menu called Payment Cards. Under there, tap Add Card.

4. You’ll see an Add Card feature pop up and the option to have your rear-facing camera collect all of the card information and automatically populate the credentials. Follow the on-screen instructions to add your card that way. If scanning your info doesn’t work, choose Enter Card Details Manually and follow the onscreen prompts.

After you input your card information, it’ll be saved for use later.

There are often multiple ways of doing things in iOS, and that’s the case with setting up Apple Pay, which you can also do from within the Wallet app. Just launch the app, and touch the plus (+) icon in the upper right corner of the screen. After that the instructions basically mirror Step No. 4 above, in which you scan your card using your iPhone’s rear-facing camera.

How to set up Apple Pay on your Apple Watch

The process for setting up Apple Pay for your Apple Watch is quite similar to what you would do setting up the feature on your iPhone. In fact, you’ll do the heavy lifting on your iPhone.

1. On your iPhone, open the Apple Watch app and go to the My Watch option.

2. Scroll down to Wallet & Apple Pay. Tap that.

3. You’ll see the option to add a card. Go through the process above to add your card and have it verified by your bank to begin use.

Your card will now be tied to your Apple Watch, and you can use your smartwatch to pay for things where Apple Pay is accepted.

How to make a purchase in-store with iPhone and Apple Watch

There are a few ways to make a purchase using Apple Pay in a brick-and-mortar store. And luckily, they’re all quite simple.

If you’re on an iPhone and you have cards attached to Apple Pay, simply double-click the lock button on the side of your iPhone X, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, or iPhone XS Max. You’ll then be able to choose a card. Scan your face with Face ID and place your iPhone next to the card reader. You’re all set.

If you own an older iPhone, such as the iPhone 8 or earlier, you’ll use the Touch ID button to authenticate the purchase instead of Face ID. (Apple Pay requires at least an iPhone 6 or later.)

If you’re using an Apple Watch to make your purchase, double-click the side button on your device and hold the smartwatch close to the payment terminal. That’s it.

How to send cash to friends with Apple Pay

Want to send some cash to your friends? The iOS 11 update from 2017 lets you do that via iMessage and quickly send it to recipients. But first, you’ll need to turn on Apple Pay Cash. Here’s how:

1. Go to the Settings app.

2. Choose Wallet & Apple Pay.

3. Toggle on the Apple Pay Cash option.

You'll be prompted to set up an Apple Pay Cash Card if you hven't already.k Note that you’ll want to use a debit card or an Apple Pay Cash Card to send money to a friend. Use a credit card, and Apple’s going to charge you a 3% fee.  

With Apple Pay Cash now turned on, you’re ready to send your friends that money you owe them through Apple Pay.

1. Head over to iMessage and enter a chat with another contact that has an iPhone and can accept cash payments. That person will need to have turned on Apple Pay Cash, as well.

2. Tap the Apple Pay icon In the iMessage window with that contact.

3. Choose the amount you want to send.

4. Once it all looks good, tap the Pay button and choose whether to send a message.

5. Tap the arrow-up button, and the cash will be sent to your recipient.

If you’re an Apple Watch user, the process is similar. You can tap Messages and then scroll to the Apple Pay icon. Choose your amount by adjusting the price with the Digital Crown and when you’re ready, send it to your friend by double-clicking the side button.

How to make Apple Pay payments on the Mac

If you’re on the Mac, you can make payments via Apple Pay. Make sure you’re using Apple’s Safari browser. If you’re on any other browser, the feature won’t work.

1. When you’re ready to make a purchase on a website that supports Apple Pay, simply click the Apple Pay button on the checkout screen.

2. A pop-up will appear showing your card information, shipping address, and more. Make sure it’s all correct.

In order to pay, you’ll need to verify your identity via the Touch ID button on your MacBook. If you have a Face ID device on an iPhone X or newer, you can double-click the side button and scan your face. On the iPhone 8 or earlier, use the Touch ID on your device to verify your identity. On Apple Watch, you can double-click the side button to verify your identity.

How to make Apple Pay payments in apps

Since Apple has allowed developers to integrate Apple Pay into their apps, there are a slew of apps available in the App Store to facilitate purchases via the platform. Here’s a quick guide on how to make it work:

1. From inside the app, choose to buy your product with the Apple Pay button.

2. Look at all of the contact information baked into the Apple Pay box. If all looks good, keep moving.

3. Now that you’re ready to go, simply double-click the side button your iPhone X or later or use Touch ID on an iPhone 8 or older. Either way, your face or your fingerprint will be scanned to verify your identity.