By Leah Yamshon
It’s official: Tim Cook named 2015 as “the year of Apple Pay.” Apple’s flagship mobile payment platform is off to a running start in the U.S., with support for an impressive number of banking partners and retail stores that’s practically growing by the day. And iPhone users are rampantly using it—Whole Foods Market has seen mobile payments increase by more than 400 percent since Apple Pay launched in October 2014.
Ready to start using it yourself? Read on to learn more about how Apple Pay works, how to get your iPhone ready for it, and most importantly, where you can go test it out.
Using Apple Pay
In order to use Apple Pay, you need to have a compatible device and the right version of iOS. For in-store purchases, Apple Pay is compatible with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which are the only iPhones equipped with the requisite NFC radio antennae. Besides NFC compatibility, the other piece of the hardware puzzle is a Touch ID sensor, but iPhone 5S owners are out of luck.
Whether you’re using the card already linked to your Apple ID or adding a new one, your iPhone will guide you through the setup process, which includes verifying your card, granting Apple Pay access, and then storing it in Passbook. Be sure to have your card handy so you can verify the card with its security code.
The card linked to your Apple ID will be listed as your default Apple Pay card, but you can always change that by going to Settings > Passbook & Apple Pay and updating your transaction defaults information.
How it Works
When buying something at a brick-and-mortar store, you’ll hold your iPhone up to a wireless payment terminal near the cash register, and then use Touch ID to complete your purchase. These sensors are the same ones you’ve already seen in stores, often equipped with both card swipers and a tap-to-pay contactless terminal. The beauty of Apple Pay is that you don’t even need to wake up your iPhone or launch Passbook—your phone wakes up automatically when it gets in range of the terminal and initiates the payment process.
If you’re buying something through a partnered online store on your iPhone, iPad Air 2, or iPad mini 3, you’ll just use Touch ID to complete the purchase. Depending on the app, you may have to toggle on a setting to allow the app to access Apple Pay, or to set Apple Pay as your default method of payment.
What makes Apple Pay such a game-changer is how many retail partners the platform has, with new stores being added constantly. Besides the Apple Store, you can use Apple Pay at these brick-and-mortar locations:
- American Eagle Outfitters
- Babies ‘R’ Us
- BJ’s Wholesale Club
- Champs Sports
- Chevron and Texaco, including retail stores like ExtraMile
- The Disney Store
- Duane Reade
- Foot Locker, including Kids Foot Locker, Lady Foot Locker, House of Hoops, and Run by Foot Locker
- Office Depot
- Panera Bread
- Petco and Unleashed by Petco
- Save Mart Supermarkets
- Select kiosks, vending machines, and self-pay stations (in partnership with USA Technologies)
- Sports Authority
- Sprouts Farmers Market
- Star Market
- Toys ‘R’ Us
- United Supermarkets
- Whole Foods Market
A few more stores will rollout Apple Pay compatibility sometime in 2015:
- Free People
- Urban Outfitters
- Walt Disney World Resort
Follow the link to read more and find instructional and demonstration videos using Apple Pay.