Published: February 29, 2024
12 min read

How to use Apple Pay online and in stores


Clare Stouffer

Staff writer

+ More
A customer uses Apple Pay at a local coffee shop.

Apple Pay is a secure way to digitally send and receive money, but there are still risks to using a digital wallet. Read on to learn how to use Apple Pay and where it works. Then, get LifeLock Standard to help monitor and secure your private information to keep you better protected against identity theft.

Apple Pay offers users a fast, easy, and secure way to pay for online or in-person transactions. Based on a contactless payment system, the Apple Pay feature allows users to tap their phone against a card reader and pay for items at stores, on websites, and in apps. You can also use Apple Cash to quickly exchange money with your friends and family over text.

Read on to learn how to set up Apple Pay on your devices, how to use the payment service, and what makes it safer than other traditional payment methods.

How to use Apple Pay on iPhone

You can set up Apple Pay on your iPhone and use your cards in minutes (if not seconds). If you’re not sure how to get started, follow along to learn how to:

To start using Apple Pay, open the Wallet app on your iPhone and sign in with your Apple ID. From there, you can apply for an Apple Card—a credit card issued by Goldman Sachs that earns 2%–3% cash back every time you tap it. Or you can load one of your existing debit or credit cards by following these steps:

  1. Tap the plus sign in the top right corner of the Wallet app.
  2. Scroll down to Debit or Credit Card and click it.
  3. Click Continue.
  4. Line up your card in the white rectangle, ensuring your name and credit card number are in view.
  5. From there, it will take you to the Card Details window, where you can manually input your card’s expiration date and CVV (three- or four-digit security code).
  6. Complete the card verification process by confirming your text message, email, and your bank’s phone number.

When you’re done, Apple will contact the card issuer for approval and add the card to your digital wallet. If you add multiple cards, remember to set the one you use most as your default card.

Steps showing how to add cards to Apple Wallet.


Use Apple Pay at a store

You can use Apple Pay to make contactless payments at participating brick-and-mortar stores. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Double-click the lock button on the right side of your iPhone.
  2. Use Face ID or Touch ID to verify your identity.
  3. Hold your phone up to the contactless reader.
  4. Wait for Done to appear on the screen.

Also, remember to bring another form of payment in case the store where you’re shopping isn’t set up for Apple Pay or their reader is down.

Steps showing how to use Apple Pay in stores.


Use Apple Pay in apps and online

You can also use Apple Pay for online transactions or to cover fees and subscriptions associated with any apps you download from the App Store. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Tap the button that says Apple Pay (exact phrasing may vary depending on the app or website).
  2. Choose between Pay in full and Pay later.
  3. Select the card you want to use.
  4. Confirm the phone number and shipping address, then choose a shipping method.
  5. Double-click the lock button to verify your identity with Face ID or Touch ID.
A screenshot showing what Apple Pay looks like at a mobile checkout.


Use Apple Pay at a gas pump

Look for an Apple Pay or contactless pay symbol on the gas pump. If you find it, here’s how to prepay:

  1. Double-click the lock button on the right side of your iPhone.
  2. Use Face ID or Touch ID to verify your identity.
  3. Hold your phone up to the contactless reader on the gas pump.
  4. Wait for a Done message to appear on the screen.

Send and receive Apple Cash

Apple Cash is for exchanging money with people you know rather than paying a business. It works similarly to mobile payment services like CashApp, Venmo, and Zelle. However, you can only use it if both the sender and receiver have an Apple device.

If both parties have an Apple device, here’s how to exchange money:

  1. Open the Messages app and choose a conversation thread.
  2. Click the plus sign beside the iMessage window.
  3. Select Apple Cash.
  4. Hit + or – to set a dollar amount. Or, touch Show Keypad to open a window with numerical keys that you can use to enter the amount.
  5. Then, choose whether you want to Request or Send the amount.
  6. After you click Send, either approve or cancel the payment.
  7. Next, double-click the lock button on the right side of your phone.
  8. Use Face ID or Touch ID to approve the transaction.

If you don’t see Apple Cash as an option in Messages, go to Settings, tap Wallet & Apple Pay, and check if “Apple Cash” is toggled on.

A screenshot showing the collapsed and expanded views of the Apple Cash window in Messages.


Select a different card for Apple Pay

Apple Wallet always defaults to a single card. If, for any reason, you decide you want to use a different one, follow these steps:

  1. Double-click the lock button on the right side of your phone to open Apple Wallet.
  2. Tap the stack of cards at the bottom of the screen to open the list of cards saved in your digital wallet.
  3. Select the card of your choice. Then, the list will automatically collapse, and you’ll see the chosen card displayed front and center.
  4. Finally, double-click the lock button on the right side of your phone again to verify your identity and make the payment.
A series of visuals showing how to switch between cards in your Apple Wallet.


How to use Apple Pay on Apple Watch

Using Apple Pay on your watch is a lot like using it on your phone. The primary differences lie in your options for adding cards and verifying purchases—let’s talk about it.

Set up Apple Pay

After you add a card to your wallet (on iPhone), you’ll see a screen that says Add to Apple Watch. To complete this process, turn on your Bluetooth and click Add Now. Or, you can click Done and add it to your Apple Watch later using one of the options listed below.

Here’s how to add a card to the digital wallet on your Apple Watch using your iPhone:

  1. Go to the Watch app.
  2. Scroll and tap Wallet & Apple Pay.
  3. Find Other cards on your phone.
  4. Locate the card you want to add to your Apple Watch and click Add. (Note: Your Apple Watch must be on and unlocked for the card to sync.)
  5. Enter your credit card’s CVV code and complete the card verification process.
A series of visuals showing how to set up Apple Pay on Apple Watch.

Or, you can add a card to the Apple Wallet using your Apple Watch, here’s how:

  1. Click the Digital Crown on the right side of the watch.
  2. Scroll down and tap Wallet.
  3. Select Add Card. (Note: Your Apple Watch may prompt you to enter the password to your Apple ID.)
  4. Choose Continue and add card details, including your full name, the card number, and the CVV.

When all is said and done, you can set the new card as the default card in your wallet or select Not Now. If you did everything correctly, you should see the new card listed under Payment cards on your watch in the Watch app.

How to pay at a store or gas pump with an Apple Watch

A lot of times, it’s easier to use your Apple Watch to make a contactless payment while you’re out and about than it is to dig around for the card you want. That’s why Apple Watches are a popular choice for on-the-go transactions. Here’s how you can quickly pay for gas at the pump:

  1. Double-click the Digital Crown on the right side of your watch.
  2. Twist the Digital Crown to choose the card you want to use.
  3. Hold the watch display near the contactless reader until you feel a tap or hear a beep.

What is Apple Pay and how is it different from Apple Cash?

Apple Pay is a mobile payment service built into Apple products like iPhones, iMacs, Macbooks, and iPads. It enables users to make secure contactless payments using the cards saved in their Apple Wallet. However, you can use Apple Pay at stores (brick-and-mortar and online) only with compatible point-of-sale (POS) systems.

What is the difference between Apple Pay and Apple Cash?

Apple Cash is part of the Apple Pay ecosystem but works more as a prepaid debit card. After you connect your debit card, you can send and receive money virtually like you would with CashApp or Zelle. This means that you can easily transfer money to pay a babysitter, split a restaurant bill, or cover other person-to-person expenses.

How does Apple Pay work?

Apple Pay is a free, contactless payment service for Apple users. Apple Pay can work a bit differently between devices and depending on what you’re doing, but the process usually goes something like this:

  1. You add your card(s) to your digital wallet to access them online and in stores.
  2. You verify your identity with Face ID, Touch ID, or your device’s passcode to prove that you are the primary cardholder or an authorized user.
  3. You complete the transaction by double-clicking the button on the right side of the device twice and holding it close to the contactless card reader.

Is it safe to use Apple Pay?

Yes, Apple Pay is secure, and Apple Inc. promises to protect users’ personal data—here’s how:

  • Apple uses unique transaction codes, so your card is never stored on your device or Apple’s servers.
  • Merchants can’t see your card number during or after transactions.
  • Users can hide their emails to protect their personal information and stop spam.
  • Apple Pay uses a contactless system that allows users to pay without using card terminals or exchanging cash, which helps protect them from credit card fraud and scams.

However, there’s only so much Apple can do to completely protect customers. Device owners also need to go the extra mile to keep their operating system updated to protect against security vulnerabilities. And using an ID theft protection service like LifeLock Standard will help monitor your private information and alert you if signs of fraud are detected on specific financial accounts.

Where can I use Apple Pay?

You can use Apple Pay at stores, restaurants, healthcare facilities, grocery stores, gas stations, and more. Ultimately, it just depends on whether or not their payment system is Apple Pay-enabled. Here are some examples of popular stores that accept Apple Pay:




Best Buy





Forever 21


Jamba Juice





Pizza Hut



Trader Joe’s

Ulta Beauty

Whole Foods Market

And that’s just a short list. According to Apple, over 85% of U.S. retailers accept Apple Pay. If you’re not sure if a business accepts contactless payments, look for a sign that says “Apple Pay” (this might include the Apple logo) or one with a Wi-Fi symbol, a card, and a hand.

Beyond that, you can also ask an employee or hold your device up to the terminal to see if it accepts the payment.

A visual representation of the different types of contactless payment and Apple Pay symbols you might find at stores, gas stations, and restaurants.

Identity theft protection for safer shopping

While contactless payments offer convenience, there are still risks. Criminals may exploit vulnerabilities in the payment software system that could lead to financial fraud or identity theft. Instances of data breaches, unauthorized access, or compromised devices could result in personal data leaks with serious consequences.

LifeLock Standard helps protect against financial fraud by monitoring your identifying personal data — such as your SSN, full name, and date of birth — and notifying you if fraudulent activity is detected in applications for new credit cards or other financial services. Should the worst happen, LifeLock Standard can also help cancel and recover stolen payment cards, licenses, insurance cards, and more.

FAQs about using Apple Pay

Still have questions about Apple Pay? Here’s what you need to know.

What should I do if my Apple Pay isn’t working?

Your Apple Pay might stop working for various reasons. To figure out what’s going on, try these troubleshooting tips:

  • Ensure your device is connected to the internet.
  • Install the most recent update on your device.
  • Verify that you’re in a country or region that supports Apple Pay.
  • Contact the card issuer to see if it was stopped because the card is invalid, or if a fraud alert or other problem arose.

Do I have to pay to use Apple Pay?

No, you don’t have to pay any interest or fees to use Apple Pay or Apple Pay Later.

They also won’t charge extra fees if you miss a payment installment on a Pay Later purchase. In fact, if you find yourself struggling to pay your bill on time, they encourage you to contact customer service to discuss hardship assistance.

What is Apple Pay Later?

Apple Pay Later is a feature that allows you to buy something now and pay for it in four installments over six weeks with no interest or fees. So far, the feature is available only for online shopping.

How old do you have to be to use Apple Pay?

You must be 13+ to use Apple Pay. If you’re younger, your Apple device won’t allow you to add a card to your Apple Wallet.

Does Apple Pay have a limit?

The Apple Cash Family program allows users to have a $4,000 balance. You can receive a minimum of $1 and send or receive up to $10,000 over a seven-day period. Verified users can transfer up to $20,000 over a seven-day period. There are no limits for in-store and online purchases.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. LifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

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