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15 Things to Know Before Setting Up Apple Pay

Apple Wallet icon on iPhone.

About a week ago I was sitting around checking out apps on my Apple Watch.  I saw the Wallet app and opened it.  It said I hadn’t set it up yet.

Mmmmh, I figured I should try this Apple Wallet or Pay thing and see what it’s all about.

I quickly realized I needed to set it up on my iPhone first and then activate it in the Apple Watch app.

I added my Amex, then activated it in the Apple Watch app.  This took about 20 minutes.  10 minutes later I had all 3 of my credit cards in my Apple Wallet app and activated on my Apple Watch.  Outstanding.  I can now survive without my physical wallet.

The next day I made my first Apple Wallet purchase.  I was definitely a noob doing it because I pointed the phone screen face down toward the scanner, which was awkward to do with my thumb on the home button.  Later I learned I need only point the top of the iPhone toward the scanner, which is a heckuva lot easier to do.

Since then I’ve done a couple of transactions.  I think as I use it more and more and get comfortable with it, I’ll like it more and more… except for having to now use a fingerprint scan to access my phone each and every time.

If you’re thinking about setting up Apple Pay, here are 15 things you should know based on my experience and use for a week.

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1. You can set up Apple Pay on your iPhone AND Apple Watch

Actually, the idea of being able to buy stuff with my Apple Watch was the impetus that got me to set up Pay in the first place.

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First set up Apple Pay and your credit cards on your iPhone.

Then you can activate them in the Watch app.  Open up your Watch App and go to “Wallet & Apple Pay”.  You’ll see the following screen in which you can activate the credit cards:

Setting up Apple Pay on Apple Watch Screenshot

Here’s a screenshot of Apple Pay on my Apple Watch:

Apple Watch with screenshots of credit cards in Apple Pay.

Step 1: Choose credit card

Pay with Apple Pay on Apple Watch.

Step 2: Double Click to Pay

2. In order to have Pay on your iPhone, you must endure additional security measures

iPhone fingerprint recognition screen.

With Pay on the phone, you either input a passcode or use a fingerprint every time you want to open your phone.  It’s a major hassle.

But, I don’t blame Apple for mandating this.  After all, if someone gets hold of your phone and they can access Pay, they spend like there’s no tomorrow.

In fact, I’m glad there are such security measures, but that doesn’t mean I’ll keep Pay on the phone.

I have an iPhone case in which I have my credit cards so my credit cards are with me all the time anyway.

The Watch Pay is cool, but in order to have that, Pay must be set up on the iPhone so it’s not like I can just have it set up on the Watch.  That would be nice in the event I forget my phone somewhere, I can still buy stuff.

3. You can load multiple credit cards on it including Amex

I like using Amex because of the Rewards so I was happy that I could load both my Amex cards plus a Visa.  Adding the Visa was important because a lot of places don’t accept Amex (they charge high rates to merchants).

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The point is you can add multiple credit cards to your Pay, which is a great feature.

4. You can set up multiple fingerprints for access

I use different fingers for fingerprint access depending on where I’m sitting and/or how I’m using the phone.  Usually, my right thumb is the best digit, but sometimes it’s my right index or if the iPhone is on my desk, my left index.

Fortunately, you can set up multiple fingerprints to access your iPhone, which I did.  Nevertheless, it’s still more hassle to access than without such security measures.

To add fingerprints, go to Settings => Touch ID & Passcode => Add a Fingerprint.

5. Easier to use than fishing out a credit card

iPhone in wallet case beside a cup of coffee.

In order to execute a transaction, just hold your thumb on the home button and point the top of the iPhone to the payment sensor/scanner.  That’s it, assuming two things:

  • The merchant accepts Apple Pay, and
  • You set up your thumb as a fingerprint for accessing and paying for Apple Pay.

6. It’s easy to set up

I had Pay set up with 3 credit cards on my iPhone and Watch in 30 minutes.  The first one took a bit of figuring out, but after that it was a piece of cake.  I’m surprised I didn’t do this earlier because I like fiddling with my tech gadgets.

The real question is whether I’ll keep Pay installed.  I’m not sure yet.

7. You don’t need a cell phone plan to use it

Because all the info is stored on your iPhone, you don’t need a cell plan or cell service to set up and use Apple Pay.  Of course, most people have cell plans for their phones, but some people don’t (maybe it’s an old phone or some other reason).  For example, I have a Samsung Edge which is still perfectly good but I don’t have it set up with cell service.  It still accesses Wifi and can do all kinds of things, just not make phone calls.

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8. Lots of people use Pay

It’s funny.  Before I put Pay on my iPhone, I never once noticed anyone using it to buy anything.  Since I put it on my iPhone and Watch, I see loads of people buying stuff with it.  Pay was something I totally ignored until a week ago.  I didn’t care.  I vaguely knew it existed.  Now that I’m a Pay user (not much of one though), I see it everywhere.

9. Apple earns .15% of every Apple Pay transaction

Apple doesn’t offer this tool for nothing.  It costs us consumers nothing, but banks and payment networks pay Apple .15% of the transaction as a fee.

10. Not all retailers accept Apple Pay… yet

This is another hassle.  You pull out your iPhone, access it to pay and then it doesn’t work at the scanner.  I then have to fish a credit card out.

I understand this problem will likely go away as more and more people ask retailers to pay with Apple Pay, but for now, it’s a barrier for me using it.  I suppose over time I’ll learn which retailers I frequent accept Apple Pay and use it there (such as Starbucks).  By the end of 2018 it’s expected that 60% of retailers will accept Apple Pay.

11. More secure than paying with a credit card

Another nice feature is that the cashier does not get any of your credit card information or personal information when paying with Apple Pay.  This is actually a huge benefit given the many retailer hacking incidents in recent years.

12. Send cash to friends (USA only for now)

I’ve not done this because I’m in Canada but read about it when setting up Pay.  You can actually send friends cash via Apple Pay Cash in messenger as long as the recipient has a connected debit or credit card.   I could see this coming in very handy at some point.

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In order to get this working, you need to put an Apple Pay Cash card in your Apple Pay app.

13. You still collect rewards points on your credit cards

Don’t worry, if you use a credit card like Amex on your Apple Pay, you’ll still accrue rewards points on it.  The transaction is processed by the credit card so all rewards, points, air miles, etc. you collect will accrue.

14. Buy apps with it

This is a no-brainer given Apple’s app store is the original app store.  You can buy apps with Apple Pay very easily.  Heck, you can also buy stuff online with it if you are using Safari and are using an Apple device (iPhone, iPad or Mac).  The big advantage here is you don’t have to create accounts with the merchant, which is a checkout task I loathe.

15. Another feature that keeps us paying premium prices for Apple products

At this point I’m really plugged into Apple.  I’ve bought a good number of apps, I have my contacts, I have iCloud… the list goes on.  Now I’ve spent time setting up Apple Pay.  I have an Apple Watch.  I’d be a fool to stop using Apple products except for the fact their prices are getting ridiculous for new phones.  At some point it will no longer be worth using Apple products and features if the cell phone costs keep sky-rocketing.  I’m not sure at what point that will be but it’s getting close with the iPhone X coming well above $1,000 (not counting signing any cell phone plan contract with a cell carrier).

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Apple Pay Verdict

It’s totally worth trying.  I certainly don’t like having to use fingerprint access every time I want to access my phone, but I do like knowing that I could probably survive if I forget my physical wallet.  For now I’m keeping it to see how it goes.  There are definitely some nice perks to having it set up.