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The one and only way you should use Apple Wallet to board buses and trains

With public transit continuing to adopt mobile payments, here's how you can use your Apple Wallet via iPhone or Apple Watch for your next ride.
Written by Christina Darby, Associate Editor on
MTA Apple Pay tap and go
Image: CNET

If you live in a major city, odds are public transportation is an essential part of your daily routine. As I'm originally from Houston, Texas, possibly one of the only major cities in the US that lacks an efficient transit system, learning the New York City subway system has been an experience

Paying for my ride, however, has been kept simple thanks to my iPhone and Apple Watch

Whether you want to use your city's official transportation card or your personal credit card, here's how you can use Apple Wallet to quickly "scan in" to your ride.

Also: I made a huge Apple Watch mistake

How to add your card to Apple Wallet

1. Open your Apple Wallet settings

On your iPhone, go to the settings menu and scroll down to Wallet & Apple Pay. 

Apple Wallet and Pay settings
Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

2. Select "Express Transit Card"

After you've selected the Wallet & Apple Pay option, you'll see any cards and passes that have already been registered for Apple Pay. Underneath those cards, tap the Express Transit Card option. Unlike typical mobile payment methods, Express Transit Card does not require a Face ID scan or passcode to access in order to expedite the boarding process.

Wallet & Apple Pay settings with arrow showing Express Transit Card option

What you'll see when you click into Wallet & Apple Pay. Scroll down and click the Express Transit Card option.

Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

3. Add your preferred payment method

Now, you'll have the option to either use one of your cards on file or manually add a credit, debit, or public transit card. Once you've entered in the billing information, the card will automatically appear next to the Express Transit Card setting. You can always change the default payment method by repeating this step.

Express Transit Card showing default card with a green check mark
Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

4. Using your Express Transit Card

The next time you're at a public transit stop, instead of fumbling with your wallet and device settings, simply hold your Apple Watch or iPhone against the reader to initiate the payment. It's that seamless.

Also: How to use Apple Pay in stores and online

FAQ

Which public transit can I ride using Apple Wallet?

Most major public transit companies in hub cities in the United States accept payments via Apple Wallet. Click here to see if your city -- in or outside of the United States -- supports mobile transactions.

Is Apple Pay the same as Apple Wallet? 

Apple Pay is integrated within Apple Wallet. With Apple Pay, you can share and send money to contacts and other Apple users. The Apple Wallet is an overarching entity for storing your different payment methods, including Apple Cash and even your virtual boarding passes for travel.

Do I have to pay for Apple Wallet?

No. Apple Wallet comes included with your iPhone and Apple Watch. You also don't have to pay to store your credit and debit cards in the app. 

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