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How to use Apple Pay in stores and online

The convenience of Apple Pay goes beyond not having to take out your wallet at stores. Many online retailers now accept it at checkout without having to enter your card number.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer on
checking out at Target self checkout using Apple Pay

Apple Pay can be used to check out at many retailers, including Target


With contactless options becoming the standard in everything from deliveries to pickups to payments, Apple Pay has become many iPhone users' go-to payment option. But learning how to use Apple Pay is probably way simpler than you think.

The hardest part of using Apple Pay is setting it up and adding your cards, and that's as easy as simply entering your card information. Once you set it up, you can use Apple Pay to check out contactless at most retailers with your iPhone or Apple Watch, and also use it to check out online from many online stores. 

How to use Apple Pay

Step 1: Set up Apple Pay

Go to Settings, then Wallet and Apple Pay
Image: Maria Diaz / ZDNet

To set up Apple Pay, you just need to go to Settings, then find Wallet and Apple Pay

Tap on Add Card
Image: Maria Diaz / ZDNet

Then tap on Add Card and follow the prompts to add your new card. 

Apple Pay Settings
Image: Maria Diaz / ZDNet

Once you add your card to your Wallet, you can edit your settings to suit your needs. You can choose to enable Apple Cash, enable the double-click side button to work as a shortcut for Apple Pay, add Express Transit Cards to pay for transit automatically without passcode or Face ID, edit your transaction information like default card, shipping address and contact info, and toggle payments on Mac on and off. 

Step 2: Double-click right side button

Double-click-- or double-press --the side button to pull up Apple Pay

Double-click-- or double-press --the side button to pull up Apple Pay

Image: Maria Diaz / ZDNet

Double-clicking the button on the right side of your iPhone brings up your cards to pay. Just choose your payment card when the Wallet comes up.

Step 3: Enter passcode to pay

Enter passcode to pay with Apple Pay
Image: Maria Diaz / ZDNet

Once you've chosen a card from your iPhone's Wallet, you'll be prompted to enter your passcode to authorize and pay for your purchase.

Step 4: Hold near reader

Hold near the reader
Image: Maria Diaz / ZDNet

Entering your passcode authenticates your payment, then just hold your phone within about an inch of the card reader to process the transaction.

That's it, Apple Pay is as easy as Apple pie. Sorry, I had to. 


Can I use Apple Pay online?

Apple Pay online
Image: Maria Diaz / ZDNet

Aside from using Apple Pay at the store, you can also use it in apps or online retailers. There are a lot of online merchants that accept Apple Pay just like they take PayPal or a credit card at checkout. And on top of being more secure, using Apple Pay online is more convenient as you don't need to enter your shipping address or card number to check out. Etsy, Starbucks, and Uber Eats, just to name a few, all accept Apple Pay.

To use Apple Pay online, tap on the Apple Pay option at checkout from your iPhone or other Apple device. Then you'll be prompted to either enter your passcode or use Face ID to authorize the payment. After this, you'll be able to check out as usual with your Apple Pay information already filled in, so you won't need to sign in again or enter your card information. 

Also: How can I keep my credit card details from being stolen online?

Is Apple Pay secure?

Using Apple Pay or Google Pay at checkout is more secure than swiping or inserting your card. This is because your credit or debit card number and information are encrypted and never shared with the retailer when you check out. A new code is created each time you pay with one of these retailers, making it safer to protect your financial data from being cloned or stolen.

Where can I use Apple Pay?

NFC-enabled card reader

You can use Apple Pay wherever there is a payment terminal with NFC. Most retailers out there have them, with some exceptions. Just look for the NFC symbol on the card reader. Some banks even accept Apple Pay at NFC-enabled ATMs to make withdrawals or access your account. 

What is NFC?

NFC stands for near-field communication. It's a technology that employs magnetic field induction to allow wireless communication between two electronic devices at a short-range, typically less than 4 centimeters or 1.5 inches.

How do you use Apple Pay on Apple Watch?

Apple Pay on Apple Watch

The days of "I forgot my wallet" are long gone. Once you add a card to your Apple Wallet, you enable Apple Pay on your iPhone. If you have an active Apple Watch linked to that iPhone, you can then use Apple Pay with just your watch, even if you don't have your iPhone on you when you check out. 

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