Apple Pay has been live in the UK for sometime now. You might have noticed that the average queue at your local Pret or pub now features iPhone and Apple Watch owners thrusting their devices at store staff and payment machines. What you might not realise, however, is that using the new mobile payment system with a London Underground terminal is actually quite different.
Fumbling and fiddling with a device is more acceptable in a sandwich shop, but you need to be nimble to avoid other commuters getting angry at you using your newfangled technology to get through the gate.
Transport for London and Apple invited Pocket-lint to Westminster Tube Station earlier in 2015 to have a play with the system and teach us a couple of lesser-known tricks along the way. Here are 10 tips on how to use Apple Pay when travelling on the Tube.
1. Pre-arm Apple Pay on your iPhone
This trick is vital for whizzing through the turnstile quickly. Rather than wait until the turnstile prompts you to give your fingerprint via TouchID, you can do this up to 1 minute before you get to the gate. To do it simply hold your finger on the TouchID sensor until Apple Pay says you are ready. Once done, you are ready to tap through quickly and efficiently without worrying about the phone recognising your fingerprint under pressure.
2. Use your Apple Watch
If you have an Apple Watch you'll find it much quicker and easier to go through the turnstiles. Double tap the "Friends" button on the side as you walk up to the turnstile and then either use your default card or swipe left and right to get one of the others you've loaded. Simply place the watch face down on the yellow circle and you're through.
3. Wear your Watch on your right arm
For an even quicker through-the-gate experience, wear your Apple Watch on your right wrist as almost all Tube system gate readers are on that side. If your Watch is on your left arm, you could always do the tap and spin like we did. That way you end up facing the gates backwards as you spin through them as if you were on Strictly.
4. Check your progress
Once you've tapped through with either your iPhone or your Watch, check your journey "tap in" status by going to the card you've used and seeing your logged journey data. Because Apple Pay logs the transaction as you go, it will let you see your journey history right then and there. Oyster card members only get to see that if they go to the TfL website and sign in. What a faff.
5. Save money with a weekly travel card
It's not available to Oyster card users, but contactless and Apple Pay users can benefit from weekly travel card fares if they "tap in" across the week. TfL automatically works out the best cost according to your usage.
6. Use a MasterCard if you've got one
Customers using MasterCard with Apple Pay need to touch in and out on London’s transport network using their Apple device and they will have their fares refunded by MasterCard on any of the Fare Free Mondays (30 November, 7 December, 14 December).
All passengers on London’s transport network touching in and out this way, whether visitors to London or regular commuters, will benefit from a refund of up to £27.90 for the period.
7. Always use the same device in and out
Because of the way Apple Pay works, if you tap into the system with your iPhone you have to tap out with the iPhone as well otherwise you'll be charged the maximum fare. If you change payment methods, even if it's the same card via Apple Pay, it thinks you are a different user and will charge you accordingly.
8. They will let you out if your battery is dead
TfL isn't evil and that means that if your battery dies mid-journey you will be let out of the gates at the other end. Expect to have to grovel though. You might have to prove it to the guard too.
9. Tourists can use it too, but with caveats
Visitors from the US to London are able to use Apple Pay on the Underground and buses too, but TfL can't 100 per cent guarantee that it will work first time. Make sure you tell your bank you are travelling first so they don't decline the card when you tap in for the first time.
10. Change the card you use
If you've got multiple cards loaded into Apple Pay, simply swipe between them before you pay to make sure you've got the right one. Just remember to use the same one at the other end too.