Just a few months back, it may have seemed obsessive-compulsive to wash your hands after every interaction. But with the specter of the coronavirus looming large, hygiene is at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Frequently cleaning your hands and devices is one of the best ways you can protect yourself. If everyone takes action to reduce the spread of germs, it can slow the creep of infection. Tap or click to see the best disinfectants you can use for your gadgets.
Aside from cleaning your smartphone and hands, contactless payments are another great way to stay germ-free. Swapping cash and cards is a dangerous vector for infection, so here’s how you can set up your devices to avoid it.
Why contactless payments?
Here’s a quick overview of how it works. First, set up your phone to use Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay. Think of it like a digital wallet in your phone that replaces your physical wallet. It contains your debit or credit card number.
You can tell if the place you’re shopping allows contactless payments by checking for the logos below on the card terminal or register. Right now, the most popular systems are Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.
When you’re done shopping, unlock your phone by using your face or entering your passcode. Tap your phone on the reader at the cash register and, like magic, you’re done. The charge will be processed using the debit or credit card you entered into your digital wallet.
You can also swipe a wearable device, like an Apple Watch, over a card reader instead of swiping a physical card or using cash. When done properly, there’s no need to touch any other surface than your own device, which makes it much safer during times like a pandemic.
Why? Well, a 2018 CDC study revealed that only 31% of men and 65% of women wash their hands after using the restroom. This means that cash, which has changed hands numerous times, has come into contact with millions of germs.
The same goes for the cards in your wallet, too. If someone hasn’t washed their hands, they’ll be passing on their germs to you once they hand you your card back.
With contactless payments, the only thing you’ll be touching is the phone in your hand. Keep that clean, and it’s the most hygienic way to pay.
Each device has its own unique contactless system, so we’ll show you how to set it up for each of the most popular services.
How to set up Apple Pay on your iPhone
If you’re setting up the service for the first time, you’ll want to open the Settings app to begin. Scroll down and tap Wallet & Apple Pay.
On this menu, you can add a card of your choice by tapping Add Card. Both credit cards and debit cards can work with the service, but we strongly recommend using a credit card.
This is because some payment terminals will request your PIN when you use Apple Pay, which means you’ll still have to touch the keypad.
Once you tap Add Card, follow the instructions until you see your phone’s camera lens. This is where you’ll be able to scan your card and complete the Apple Pay setup.
Make sure your lighting is good, and that you fit your card inside the white outline you see below to successfully load your card.
If your device uses Touch ID, you’ll scan your finger to continue. If not, Face ID will scan your face. This is part of Apple Pay’s encryption, which uses your biometric data to help prevent fraud. It’s sanitary and secure.
Apple Pay is accepted across millions of apps, websites and retail stores. Once your setup is complete, use it at any compatible terminal by double-tapping the Home or Lock button on your device and tapping the receiver on the terminal. Tap or click for a list of some of the retailers that accept Apple Pay.
You can use Apple Pay to send money to friends and family, too. Here’s how:
- Open the Messages app, and start a new conversation or tap an existing one.
- Tap the Apple Pay button. Don’t see it? Tap the App Store icon first.
- Enter the amount you want to send.
- Tap Pay, then select the send button Send icon to review or cancel the payment.
- Confirm your payment with Face ID, Touch ID or your passcode.
How to use Apple Pay on an Apple Watch
If you own both an Apple Watch and an iPhone, you can set up Apple Pay to work on your wrist. This means you’ll never have to whip your phone out when the time comes to pay — which will help keep the germs off your screen.
To set it up, open the Watch app, tap My Watch and select Wallet & Apple Pay. Select the card you’ve configured for Apple Pay to continue. As with Apple Watch on the iPhone, we recommend using a credit card so you don’t have to touch the PIN pad when the time comes to pay.
How to set up Google Pay on your Android Phone
Any Android phone can be set up to use Google Pay. All you need to do is make sure your device is running Android Lollipop (5.0) or higher. You’ll also need to install the Google Pay app, which you can download here.
Download the app and open it to begin the setup. When the app requests you set up a card, follow the onscreen instructions.
Once the app is set up, you’ll be able to use it at any compatible terminal. Tap or click to see all the things you can do with Google Pay.
As we mentioned with Apple Pay, we recommend using a credit card over a debit card to prevent unnecessary contact with PIN pads.
While setting up, you may also be asked to add an authentication method like a code or fingerprint. This keeps your transactions secure and verifies you’re actually the one making any purchases.
For verification, Google Pay will accept PIN, patterns, passwords, fingerprints or retina-scanning screen locks. It won’t accept facial recognition or screen locks like Smart Unlock or Knock to Unlock.
Once you’re set up, all you’ll need to do is unlock your phone and hold it near a compatible reader to pay. You won’t need to open the app and you’ll know your payment was successful when you see a blue check mark on the screen.
How to set up Samsung Pay on your Galaxy Phone
Samsung phones can use Google Pay just like any other Android device, but Samsung offers a unique, device-specific payment method that comes pre-installed.
To set up Samsung pay, you’ll need the username and password for the Samsung account you created when setting up your phone. Once you have that information, open the pre-installed Samsung pay app.
If you deleted this app, you can re-download it here.
Once you’re ready, open the Samsung Pay app and tap Get Started. Enter a new PIN for the app and enter it once more to confirm. You’ll be asked to add a card after this, which can now be used for contactless payments.
To use Samsung Pay at a terminal, swipe up from the lockscreen using the small Samsung Pay icon at the bottom. You can also open the Samsung pay app and tap Pay.
You’ll be asked to authenticate your purchase with a fingerprint, retina scan or PIN. Then, you can hold your device to the reader to complete your transaction.
What about payments between friends and loved ones?
Contactless payments will give you peace of mind when shopping, but what about when you have to pay someone directly? As we mentioned above, cash can be a dangerous vector for germs and it’s unlikely your immediate family will have a wireless payment terminal on hand.
That’s where peer-to-peer payment apps come in. These programs can link to either a card or bank account, and can instantly send money to a recipient using their email address or phone number.
There are several different P2P apps, and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses. Venmo is currently the most popular of the bunch and is owned and operated by the online finance veterans at Paypal.
Zelle is another major name, which has deep ties with many of the biggest banks in the country. Several banks like Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase even include Zelle as a feature in their standalone apps.
All your recipient needs to do to receive their money is download the same app you use.
Once they’ve installed it, they can accept your payment and transfer it to a bank account. Just make sure you’re 100% certain on the amount and recipient before hitting send. Tap or click here to see how each P2P cash app compares.
Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, our society will need to live and conduct business in ways that prevent the spread of disease. By switching to contactless payments, you’ll be doing your part in protecting yourself and others from harm.
And that’s worth more than any payment you can send from an app.