How to pay with your phone

Roisin Evans

Mobile phones have taken over many functionalities. We use them to store music, surf the web, take pictures and get directions. As a result, they’ve become a source of incredible convenience.

They’ve also become one of the best methods of making contactless payments. With apps like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, users can add their details and leave their cards at home. This blog explores the best mobile payment apps and how to pay from your phone.

Are contactless mobile payments safe?

In many ways, phone payments are safer than other methods. Cash, for example, can be lost or torn, while physical cards are vulnerable to cloning or skimming.

While it’s difficult to clone a mobile device, you should still take security precautions – such as:

  • Keep your phone safe and password-protected
  • Don’t make any financial transaction over insecure Wi-Fi networks
  • Always keep apps up to date to avoid security flaws
  • Don’t fall for social engineering attacks.

If you do the above, you’ll find that phones are a very secure payment method. They work with payment terminals through near field communication (NFC) – a short-range radio transmission method used in various contactless gadgets.

You can make mobile payments at any terminal with the contactless symbol. Most retailers offer contactless nowadays, letting you checkout by tapping your contactless card or mobile device on a card reader. NFC then transmits a secure token with all the information to complete your card payments from your mobile device.

Your phone stores your card details in a digital wallet. You have to authenticate payments via your phone passcode or biometric checks – such as fingerprints or facial recognition. As the card details are stored on your phone, you should make sure to:

  • Choose a strong phone passcode that nobody else knows
  • Set up any biometric verification your phone offers
  • Know how to cancel your cards if they are stolen, or your phone is lost.

So, which phones can you make payments with?

Which phones can make contactless payments?

All major mobile phone brands now offer contactless payment options.

Apple Pay

Any new iPhone offers Apple Pay as its contactless payment service. Devices compatible with Apple Pay include any iPhone model with Face ID and any model with Touch ID – excluding the iPhone 5S. You can also make contactless payments from any Apple Watch Series 1 or later.

Google Pay

Google Pay was designed to be the contactless payment method for Android devices. Most Android phones can make contactless payments – as long as they aren’t running on developer or rooted Android versions. You can also use Google Pay through other Android devices and smartwatches.

Samsung Pay

The Samsung Pay app lets you make contactless payments from your Samsung Galaxy devices. There are many devices that support Samsung pay, including the more recent Note, S, A and J range devices – along with Galaxy Watches.


How do I pay with my phone?

Once you’ve learned how to use your phone to pay for goods, you’ll find shopping becomes much easier. To get started, you’ll need to get a credit card or debit card ready and follow these steps.

How do I use Apple Pay on my phone?

To install Apple Pay on your phone, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Install the latest iOS version and get your card details ready
  2. Find the Wallet app on your phone and press the Add button
  3. Choose whether you’ll add a credit or debit card
  4. Enter the requested details, selecting the appropriate card issuer or bank account provider
  5. Complete any additional verification steps
  6. Set Apple Pay as your preferred payment method.

To use Apple Pay to make purchases, place your phone on the payment terminal and complete the Face ID or Touch ID verification. You can also change which card you use at this step if you have more than one. Once verified, a tick will appear, and the transaction will complete.

How do I use Google Play on my phone?

To install Google Pay, you should:

  1. Download and install the Google Pay app from the Google Play store on your Android device
  2. Open the Google Pay app and click Get Started
  3. Add a card number for at least one payment method through the following steps
  4. Go through any additional verification questions
  5. Tap on your preferred payment method to choose your default for in-store transactions.

Next, you’ll need to make sure that contactless payments are enabled. Go to Settings, Connections and make sure that NFC and payments are turned on. You should also set Google Pay as the default contactless payment method.

To make a payment, unlock your phone and hold it next to the payment terminal. Google Pay will open and may prompt you for your verification method. After processing, a tick will appear, and the transaction will be completed.

How do I use Samsung Play on my phone?

Follow these steps to install Samsung Pay:

  1. Download the Samsung Pay app from the Google Play or Samsung Galaxy Apps store
  2. Open the app and choose or add a verification method, such as a PIN or fingerprint
  3. Follow the steps to add a default payment card
  4. Head to settings to make sure that NFC is enabled, and that Samsung Pay is your default contactless payment method.

To purchase items, hold your Samsung phone near the payment terminal and go through the security verification method you selected. The payment should complete soon after.

What other contactless payment apps are available?

Apple, Google and Samsung Pay are not the only wallet apps. Others, like PayPal, are financial apps that allow you to manage your cards and payments in more depth– but may not be as straightforward to use. It’s also possible that they won’t be as widely accepted as others.

As more retailers accept them, mobile wallet apps could eventually replace traditional payment methods. As such a secure and convenient payment method, we expect contactless apps to continue rocketing in popularity worldwide.

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