In case you hadn’t noticed recently, paying for stuff with your phone is becoming a pretty big deal. If you have an Android phone or Apple iPhone and a bank account, then you already have everything you need to pay with a tap.

There’s a lot of discussion that swirls around mobile payments. Is it safe? How does it work? And, how do you set it up?

These are all good questions. The first one is easy. Mobile payment use NFC or Near Field Communication, which is the same technology you might have used when you tap two devices together to pair or share files.

Google and Apple use different methods of storing your financial information. If you want to learn more, we have a thorough comparison of Google Wallet versus Apple Pay.

The safety issue is evolving. As we’ve been learning the hard way with so many recent hacks, nothing and no one is really 100 percent secure. So, whether you’re robbed with an ATM skimmer, or an infrared camera to steal your PIN, crooks are going to figure out ways to part you from your money.

That said, mobile payments are as safe, if not safer, than using a card, and most assuredly than walking around with lots of cash. So, if you’re thinking of trying out mobile payment for yourself, then you still need to set them up, which is really easy.

Setting up Apple Pay

Apple Pay can be set up in your iPhone or iPad’s settings. Open the settings and then tap “Passbook & Apple Pay.”

You’ll need to add a credit or debit card, which is the first option

Before you can do anything, you have to enter your Apple ID password, sorry, Touch ID won’t work here.

Next, you have two choices, if you have a card on file with iTunes, you can use that one or you can set up Apple Pay to work with a different card.

If you decide to use the card on file, you’ll need to enter the security code from the back of the physical card.

Once you enter your security code, agree to the terms and conditions. It’s probably a good idea to read this document. Upon agreement, you’ll be asked if you consent to Passbook using your location when you use the Apple Pay app.

You don’t have to agree to this for Apple Pay to work.

Once you’ve added a card, it will be show up under the “Cards” section, you can tap any one to view or update details.

You can add more cards, in case you want to pay with a different one, such as if you go on a business trip or vacation. In any event, you can change the default card to another by tapping the “Default Card” option.

Below this, you can add and edit other pertinent information: billing and shipping addresses, email address, and phone number.

To use Apple Pay, tap you iOS device on the payment terminal while holding your finger on the Touch ID sensor. Apple Pay uses your fingerprint to authenticate transactions. You don’t have to unlock your phone first, which is a big advantage over Google Wallet.

Setting up Google Wallet

Google Wallet is an application on your phone or tablet and as such, can be found in your apps launcher. If you don’t have it on your device, it can be downloaded from the Play Store.

Things start out with a an intro tour. You can read it or you can skip it.

You need to enter a 4-digit PIN number. Remember this number because you will use it to access your Wallet and authenticate transactions. Note, if you use a PIN to unlock your phone, make sure your Google Wallet PIN is different.

We want to open “Set up tap and pay.”

The tap and pay setup will first ask you to accept the terms and conditions. You’ll then be required to add a credit card. If your Google Account already has a card associated with it, you can use that one.

If you do have a card associated with your Google Account, or you successfully add one, you’ll get a completion screen. The completion screen informs you that you only need to unlock your phone and tap a pay terminal to perform a Google Wallet transaction.

If you have questions about how tap and pay works, you can view a 6-step guide to it.

Google Wallet’s main app screen has several different offers, which you can explore on your own. For example, Wallet Balance lets you send money to friends, request money from others, transfer money from your Wallet to your bank, and so on.

Tap “Tap and pay ready:” to see what cards are associated with your Google Account, add another card, or edit the cards on file.

One useful thing you’ll want to probably do is to give your cards nicknames.

Back on the main Google Wallet screen, tap the three lines in the upper-left corner to open “My Wallet” options.

Many of these selections are the same as on the previous screen, though if you tap “Cards & accounts,” you can link a bank account such as checking or savings.

You’ll need to know your account and routing number to do this.

The “My Wallet” options also have Settings that you can adjust. Notable among these, you can turn tap and pay off or on, and disable notifications.

You can also opt-in (or out) of email updates, change your PIN (good to know), turn on real-time orders tracking, and view your monthly balance statements.

That’s all there really is to it, you’re now good-to-go. Next time you see a Google Wallet pay terminal, just take out your phone, unlock it, and tap to pay. Remember, you may have to enter your Google Wallet PIN to authenticate transactions. Again, make sure that if you use a PIN to unlock your phone, it is different than your Google Wallet PIN.

Now you should be all set to venture into the brave new world of mobile payments. We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any comments or questions, please leave your feedback in our discussion forum.


Profile Photo for Matt Klein Matt Klein
Matt Klein has nearly two decades of technical writing experience. He's covered Windows, Android, macOS, Microsoft Office, and everything in between. He's even written a book, The How-To Geek Guide to Windows 8.
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