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The Beginner’s Guide to Setting Up and Using Apple Pay

apple pay

Apple CEO, Tim Cook, reported a few years back that Apple Pay has been used in three-fourths of “mobile wallet” transactions made in the U.S. And because more banks and retailers accept Apple Pay payments today, the number of people signing up for the service has grown exponentially, too.

For all the convenience this service brings, we highly recommend you try it yourself. Not sure where and how to start using Apple Pay? Read on and we’ll tell you all you need to know about how it works and how to set it up on your iPhone/iPad/Apple Watch.

A Few, Quick FAQs on Apple Pay

Is it secure?

Yes, it is. Apple uses a two-part, hardware-based security for Apple Pay. Not only will you be required to use Touch ID to authorize iTunes and in-store purchases, the system will also need you to present the Secure Element built into your iPhone.

Keep in mind the data stored in this NFC chip-embedded microcontroller doesn’t make its way to your phone’s software and can sense hardware tampering, making it virtually impossible for hackers and thieves to extract your financial information through the Secure Element.

How does it work?

When buying at retail partners, simply hold your Apple device up to a credit card terminal and use Touch ID to finalize the transaction. For in-app purchases, just use Touch ID during checkout to authorize the purchase. It’s that simple.

Are all iOS devices compatible with it?

Sadly, no. Your Apple device needs to have both Near Field Communication (NFC) and Secure Element (SE) chips to pay up using Apple Pay in stores and in an app. By default, owners of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and later versions can readily use the payment system. If you own an iPhone 5S or older, you may have to tether an Apple Watch to your phone to use the service. As for those using iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3, they may only use Apple Pay for in-app purchases (as these two don’t have built-in NFC chips). It’s worth emphasizing, too, that your Apple device has to run on iOS 8.1 or newer to access the feature.

Which banks are compatible with Apple Pay?

Because you need to link up a credit or debit card to the service in order to make payments, check if your preferred bank supports Apple Pay. Here is a full list of participating banks, which includes the likes of Capital One, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase, and Citibank. The service has fewer bank partners elsewhere, though.

Adding a Card for Apple Pay

Apple Watch iPhone with Apple Pay Card e1496692552411
With Apple Pay, you’re virtually bringing your card everywhere your Apple devices go. (Image credit: Overthrow Digital)

Before you can use the service, you need to set up your iPhone’s or iPad’s Wallet app (known formerly as Passbook). Here are the steps to do just that:

  1. Open the Wallet app, tap the + button found in the top-right corner of the screen. Press Next.
  2. Put in your credit/debit card information by either scanning it with the device’s camera or entering the needed details manually. Tap Next on the Card Details.
  3. Enter your card’s security code and expiration date. Afterward, tap Next > Agree (to accept the terms and conditions) > and press on another Agree.
  4. Select a preferred verification method and then tap Next. Press on the Enter Code button and you input the verification code given to you by your card provider. This should be sent to you via call, email, or text, depending on the verification method you chose earlier.
  5. Tap Next > Done. By then, your credit/debit card will be activated and ready to use for Apple Pay.

Expert tip: Apple Pay’s photo-detection feature only works on cards with embossed numbers. For cards with flat digits, you will have to enter their numbers manually.

Once you’re done linking a card to Wallet, you can use Apple Pay on your iPhone or iPad.

Now, what if you want to use the service with your Apple Watch?

Setting Up Apple Pay on an Apple Watch

Even if you’ve been using the payment service on your iPhone/iPad, you have to add your card details once more to pair Apple Pay with your Apple Watch. It’s pretty easy to do so, luckily. Here are the steps:

  1. On the Apple Watch app for iPhone/iPad, tap My Watch
  2. Scroll down to the Wallet & Apple Pay. In there, you can choose to mirror Apple Pay alerts shown on your iPhone and make them come to your watch (or not).
  3. From here, your iPhone/iPad will guide you through the steps. After setting up your credit card info once more, you may be able to find your card details on the Wallet app on your watch.

As you’re about to purchase in a brick-and-mortar store using your smart watch, hold the Apple Watch close to the contactless payment terminal. Be on the lookout of a vibration or beep. In case both don’t pair well, turn the Watch’s face toward the payment terminal.

Depending on the value of your purchase, the retailer you’re buying from, and the card provider you’ve linked your Wallet with, you may be required to provide a signature or PIN to complete your purchase using your Apple smartwatch.

Why Use Apple Pay?

For the most part, the payment service affords you two, really good incentives to use it.


We bet you’ve left your credit card or wallet in the past. It happens even to the best of us, admittedly. Instead of driving all the way back to your apartment, have Apple Pay at your disposal. With it, you can proceed with your shopping spree with literally nothing in your pocket but your iPhone. The convenience gets even more pronounced when you use an Apple Watch.

Unparalleled Financial Security

A combination of biometric technology and hardware security makes Apple Pay an impressively secure means to make purchases. And because the system allows you to leave your wallet and cards at home, malicious individuals have no way to get a hold of any valuable financial information. Even breaking your iPhone will immediately shut down the SE component in your phone’s NFC chip.

It helps that setting up Apple Pay is pretty straightforward and hassle-free, too.

As more grocery stores, restaurants, boutiques, hotels, and businesses partner up with Apple’s official payment platform, it makes a lot of sense to give this easy, convenient, and practical system a whirl.

In case you’re wondering, here’s a comprehensive list of places accepting Apple Pay.

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