What is Samsung Pay?

How it works and where to use it

Person using Samsung Pay to make a purchase in a retail establishment.

Samsung Pay is what Samsung call its home-grown mobile payment system. The system allows users to leave their wallet at home and still have access to their credit and debit cards (even their store rewards cards). Unlike some other mobile payment systems, however, Samsung Pay was designed specifically to work with Samsung Phones (full list of supported devices). You interact with Samsung Pay via an app.

Why Pay With Your Phone?

Use your Samsung phone to pay for transactions in the store.

If you’re already carrying your credit, debit, and reward cards, what’s the point in having a mobile payment app? The top two reasons are that it’s simpler and more secure.

With Samsung Pay, there’s no danger you’ll lose your wallet. Because the system requires that you set up at least one security method–a pin number or biometric scan if you lose your device or leave it unattended, others can’t access your payment methods.

As an added layer of security, if you have Find My Mobile enabled on your device and it’s lost or stolen, then you can remotely wipe all the data from the Samsung Pay app.

Where to Get Samsung Pay

Find Samsung Pay in your Google Play Apps & Games.

Samsung Pay was originally released as a downloadable app. Beginning with the Samsung 7, however, the app was automatically installed on the device.

At that time, Samsung also released an update to earlier devices (the Samsung S6, S6 Edge +, and Note 5) that included Samsung Pay.

There is no Samsung Pay app available in the Android store, so if it’s not installed on your phone, you cannot download it. If this is something that you decide you don’t want to use, you can uninstall. Go to the App Store on your device. Drop down the Navigation menu in the upper left corner (three horizontal bars), and select My apps & games. Find Samsung Pay in your apps list and tap it to open the app information screen. Select Uninstall to remove the app from your device. When you uninstall the app, the credit card information that’s stored in the app will be deleted.

Who Uses Tap and Pay Apps?

Samsung Pay is used by people all over the U.S. to make payments on in-store transactions.

Samsung Pay is part of a group of apps known as Tap & Pay. These apps allow you to “tap” your phone on a payment terminal to pay for purchases in most stores.

According to Mobile Payments World, the U.S. is expected to have about 150 million user for these mobile payments by 2020.

Anyone with a smartphone can have a mobile wallet and mobile payment capabilities, though adoption rate in the U.S. has been slower than in other countries, like the United Kingdom.

How to Pay With Your Phone

Use your debit, credit, or gift cards from the Samsung Pay app.

Using the Samsung Pay app is simple. To add a credit or debit card to the app, open the app and tap ADD in the upper right corner. On the next screen, tap Add credit or debit card then you can either scan the card with your phone’s camera or enter the information manually.

Adding gift cards and rewards cards works the same way. Once entered, the card is automatically added to your mobile wallet. After you’ve added the first card, a Samsung Pay handle appears at the bottom of your phone screen.

Once you’ve added a card to your mobile wallet, you can make payments anywhere there is a payment terminal (in theory). During a transaction, swipe the Samsung Pay handle up and hold your device near the payment terminal. The Samsung Pay app will communicate your payment information to the terminal and the transaction will complete as normal. You may still be asked to sign a paper receipt.

Using Samsung Wallet with Your Fingerprint Scanner

Use the fingerprint scanner to open Samsung Pay.

A fingerprint can also be used to authenticate and complete a payment. If your device has a fingerprint scanner, it's pretty easy to get that set up.

To enable this: 

  1. Open the Samsung Pay app and tap the three dots in the upper right corner.
  2. Tap Settings in the menu that appears and then select Use Finger sensor gestures on the next screen. Make sure the Finger Sensor Gestures option is toggled on, and then toggle on Open Samsung Pay.
  3. When you’re finished, tap the Home button, then the next time you want to use your mobile wallet to complete a transaction and your phone is locked, hold your finger on the fingerprint sensor to open the phone and then swipe your finger up the fingerprint sensor to open Samsung Pay.

One thing to note is that although Samsung says the payment app will work with near field communications (NFC), magnetic stripe, or Europay, Mastercard, and Visa (EMV) terminals, we've seen anecdotes that the systems are sometimes hit and miss. That is: Sometimes the payment works, sometimes you still have to pull out your wallet and use the physical card.

Out take? Set up Samsung Pay but continue to carry your real wallet for backup even if you never end up needing it.