How to Use Apple Pay

It's easy to set up Apple Pay and use it at the register

A photo of a woman making using her iPhone to make a wireless payment

Westend61/Getty Images

When you use Apple Pay, purchases are totally wireless, fast, and more secure than if you used a physical credit or debit card. Even better: all you need is your iPhone; leave your wallet in your pocket or purse.

This article includes everything you need to know about using Apple Pay, including how to set it up, how to use it, where you can use it, and much more.

This article applies to iOS devices running iOS 12, Apple Watches running watchOS 5, and Macs running macOS 10.13 (High Sierra) and newer.

Apple Pay Requirements

In order to use Apple Pay, you need the following:

How to Set Up Apple Pay on iPhone and iPad

You may have set up Apple Pay while originally setting up your iPhone or iPad. If not, though, you can set up Apple Pay by following these steps:

  1. Tap the Wallet app that comes pre-installed on your device to open it.

  2. Tap + to start adding a card to Apple Pay.

    A screenshot of the Apple Wallet app
  3. Hold up the card you want to add in front of the iPhone or iPad camera so that it appears in the onscreen frame.

    A screenshot of adding a card to Apple Pay
  4. When the device recognizes and scans the card, the card data will appear on the screen.

    If the camera can't detect your card information for some reason, tap Enter Card Details Manually to type in the card information instead.

  5. Follow the instructions from your bank to finish adding the card. You may need to enter information onscreen, call the bank to get a code, or something else. Different banks have different security procedures.

  6. After you've verified your card with your bank, tap Next to complete the set up process.

  7. Repeat this process for all the cards you want to add to Apple Pay.

Once you've added a card, you may find over time that you need to make changes. Learn how to handle this by reading How to Remove a Card from Apple Pay with iCloud and How to Update Apple ID Account Information.

How to Set Up Apple Pay on Apple Watch

If you've set up Apple on the iPhone that's paired with your Apple Watch, you shouldn't need to do anything else. However, you may want to add a card to your Watch. Here's what to do:

  1. On the iPhone paired with your Apple Watch, tap the Watch app to open it.

  2. Tap Wallet & Apple Pay.

    A screenshot of the Watch app menu on iPhone
  3. Tap Add Card and follow steps 3-6 from the last section.

    A screenshot from the Wallet & Apple Pay screen in the Watch app

For more on this, check out How to Use Apple Pay On the Apple Watch.

How to Set Up Apple Pay on a Mac

Setting up Apple Pay on a Mac
Apple Inc.

Setting up Apple Pay for use on a Mac is pretty simple. As long as you have a compatible Mac, just go to System Preferences -> Wallet & Apple Pay -> click Add Card. Then follow steps 3-6 from the iPhone and iPad section earlier in this article.

How to Use Apple Pay to Buy in Stores

A photo of a woman using Apple Pay at Target
Apple Inc.

Once you've got Apple Pay set up, it's time to start using it. To use Apple Pay to make purchases in stores, here's what you need to do:

  1. Confirm that the store accepts Apple Pay.

  2. Go to the cash register to check out. When the time comes to pay, hold your iPhone or Apple Watch near the payment terminal where you would normally slide your credit card. Your device and the payment terminal communicate wirelessly using NFC (Near-Field Communications).

  3. What happens next depends on the model you have.

    • If your iPhone has Face ID, double click the side button and then look at your iPhone so Face ID can authorize you.
    • If your iPhone has the Touch ID fingerprint scanner, rest your finger on the Home button to authorize the transaction.
    • To use Apple Watch, double click the watch's side button.
  4. Your transaction will be handled in the same way as if it used a debit or credit card, and your device will notify you when the transaction is approved.

The Different Ways to Use Apple Pay

Apple Pay can be used for a number of kinds of transactions, including:

  • In Stores: This replaces using debit or credit cards for any purchases. This works for iPhones and the Apple Watch only.
  • Online and In-App Purchases: For websites and online stores that accept Apple Pay.
  • Sending Money to Friends and Family: Using Apple Pay Cash, you can send money to friends and family, a la Venmo. To do this, you'd use the Messages app on your iPhone.
  • Mass Transit and Student ID: In some locations, you can buy bus, train, and other mass transit fares with Apple Pay. Some colleges and universities have also connected their student IDs to Apple Pay for on-campus transactions.

Where You Can Use Apple Pay

The list of places where you can use Apple Pay is far too long to include in this article. You can find a list of countries and banks that support it on Apple's website here. A partial list of some major companies that accept it can be found here.

Both small independent stores and major international chains accept Apple Pay. A few big names include:

Best Buy Costco Dunkin'
The Gap KFC Kohl's
Macy's McDonald's Nike
Panera Pizza Hut 7 Eleven
Staples Starbucks Subway
Target Walgreens Whole Foods