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Money

Skip the card: How to pay with your phone or smartwatch

Credit cards have been around for nearly three-quarters of a century and have evolved to the point where you don’t even need to swipe your card or insert it into a chip reader. Using Radio-frequency identification (RFID) or Near-Field Communication (NFC), you need only hold your card close to the reader or tap it to complete a transaction.

While convenient, this form of contactless payment exposes you to attack from crooks with RFID-enabled devices. They need only stand close enough to your wallet and cards to steal your information. Tap or click here to see how to protect your payment cards.

There’s not much our smartphones can’t do at this point, including the ability to pay retailers and other people for goods and services. Simply set up your phone with a payment app and you’re good to go. Your phone becomes a digital wallet containing your debit and/or credit card information. We’ll show you how to set it up.

Apple Pay

If you have an iOS device, you can use Apple Pay at stores, gas stations, coffee shops and anywhere that accepts it. Apple Pay works with your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac.

The Apple Card is a credit card linked to Apple Pay and built into the Wallet app. There is also a physical version of the card.

We’re going to focus on Apple’s portable devices here.

To set up Apple Pay on your iPhone:

  • Open the Wallet app and tap the add (plus) button.
  • Choose a card type, then tap Continue.
  • On the next screen you can either scan the front of your card with your iPhone’s camera or enter the card information manually.
  • You’ll get instructions to finish adding the card. You may need to enter more information or call the bank. It depends on which bank you use.
  • Once verified, tap Next.

To set up Apple Pay on your Apple Watch:

  • Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and go to My Watch.
  • Tap Wallet & Apple Pay, then Add card.
  • On the next screen you can either scan the front of your card with your iPhone’s camera or enter the card information manually.
  • You’ll get instructions to finish adding the card. You may need to enter more information or call the bank. It depends on which bank you use.
  • Once verified, tap Next.
  • When you’re at a store that accepts Apple Pay, press the side button on your Apple Watch twice. This pulls up your default card. Hold your watch near the reader until you feel a tap.

Open the Wallet App and tap Apply for Apple Card, then Continue to apply for an Apple Card. Complete your application. Upon approval, you can add your Apple Card using the above instructions.

Google Pay

You can pay with Google Pay at any location that accepts it. The payment app works with NFC-enabled Android phones and smartwatches.

To set up Google Pay on your Android phone:

  • Open the Google Pay app. If you don’t have the Google Pay app, download it from the Play Store.
  • Tap Add a card > Debit or credit card
  • On the next screen you can either scan the front of your card with your Android phone’s camera or enter the card information manually.
  • Verify your payment method.

To set up Google Pay on your Android smartwatch:

  • Open the Google Pay app on your Android smartwatch and tap Get started.
  • Set up screen lock.
  • Follow the instructions on your phone to add a credit or debit card to your watch.
  • Your card will show up on your watch.
  • To pay with your Android watch, open the Google Pay app and hold it over a contactless pay reader until you hear a sound or feel a vibration.

P2P payment apps

Peer-to-peer payment apps are great for sending and receiving money among trusted friends and family. They can also be used to pay for goods and services, but you must be careful who you send money to.

PayPal

PayPal is great for sending money to strangers, as you don’t need to provide personal information. PayPal has purchase protection and dispute resolution in case things go sideways.

Once you send money, however, you cannot cancel the transaction. You can request a refund or ask PayPal to step in, though nothing is guaranteed. You can get the free PayPal app for iOS here. For the Android version of PayPal, get it here.

Venmo

Venmo is ideal for sending money to family and friends. Want to split a restaurant bill? Venmo works for that too. Tap or click here for an important security setting to change in Venmo.

But if you want to get your payment back, good luck. It’s up to the person you sent money to. There is no buyer or seller protection. You can get the free Venmo app for iOS here. Or download Venmo for Android here.

Zelle

Zelle deposits payments directly into your bank account. Once payment is sent, the only way to get it back is at the discretion of the person you sent it to. There is no fraud protection, so be careful who you send money to. Just how safe is Zelle? Tap or click here to find out.

Get the free Zelle app for iOS here. Or download it for Android here.

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