While iPhone users have Apple Pay, Android users have Google Pay.

Technically, it was first called Android Pay. Google launched that mobile wallet in September 2015 in the US and May 2016 in the UK. But times are a changing, and Google wants to streamline its payment services. So, in February 2018, it rolled out an update to Android Pay that not only changed the name to Google Pay but also introduced some new functionality that could make the service more ubiquitous.

Here's everything you need to know about Google Pay.

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What is Google Pay?

Google Pay is a new mobile payments app that can store your credit cards, debit cards, loyalty cards, etc. In addition, Google will launch a redesign of the Google Wallet app, which you can use for sending and requesting money. That’s now called Google Pay Send, keeping it in line with the Google Pay brand. However, US and UK users can soon use the Google Pay app for sending and requesting money, too.

Confusing, we know. Anyway, Google Pay is officially your one-stop shop for purchases, passes, and payment methods. Google is currently working on bringing Google Pay to all Google products, so whether you’re shopping on Chrome or with Google Assistant, you’ll have a consistent checkout experience, using the cards saved to your Google Account, the company explained in a blog post.

It's also working with partners online and in stores, so you’ll see Google Pay on sites, in apps, and at your stores around the globe.

Is Google Pay different from Android Pay?

The Android Pay app has become the Google Pay app.

So, the Google Pay app is basically a redesign of Android Pay. But, in terms of functionality, not much is new - except that the new Google Pay home screen now shows you relevant, nearby stores that accept Google Pay. That list is personalised and based on previous stores where you've used the service, and it's based on your location. The home screen also shows you all of your recent purchases.

Google Pay is technically split into two halves: the new Home tab and the Card tab. While the Home tab shows you nearby stores and recent purchases, it also lets you easily access your rewards and get helpful tips. As for the Cards tab, it's where you’ll store your credit and debit cards, loyalty programs, offers, and even gift cards. So, it sounds like Android Pay's core features are still here.

Google said more features are coming, too.

What's happening to Google Wallet?

As we said above, Google Wallet will soon become Google Pay Send. You can use that app to send, request, and receive money from other people. It'll come in handy for tasks like splitting bills. Google Pay Send does all the same things Wallet did. If you’re already using Wallet, you won’t need to do anything to get started with Google Pay Send. Google is also adding Google Pay Send features to Google Pay.

That means Google Wallet will soon be part of Google Pay, in a sense.

How do you set up Google Pay?

To get started using Google Pay, follow these steps:

  1. Look for the Google Pay app on your phone. It'll be updated from the Android Pay you may have already installed. It'll also be preloaded on several devices, but you can also simply download it from Google Play. It's only available in countries that support Google Pay, however.
  2. Open the Google Pay app and add a credit or debit card within Cards tab. If it's your first time using the app, tap Get Started, then select a payment method to add, and take a photo of your card or enter your information. Google will then verify you via SMS or email authentication.
  3. That's it. Simply unlock your phone and tap to use Google Pay at any contactless payment terminal. You can also use it in apps and sites.

How does Google Pay work in stores?

To do in-store purchases with Google Pay, follow these steps:

  1. Look for the Google Pay symbol or contactless payment symbol at a contactless payment terminal near checkout.
  2. Unlock your phone.
  3. Hold your phone over the terminal and wait until you see a checkmark.
  4. That's it. No need to even open the Google Pay app.

When Google first unveiled Google Pay, it said you would be able to pay for goods by simply unlocking your Android phone like you normally do (which also enables Google Pay to authenticate your transaction), then placing it near a merchant's contactless terminal, and that's it. Keep in mind, according to Google, you also pay for purchases under £30 without unlocking your phone (the screen just needs to be on).

For purchases above that, you'll need to put in your authentication. You don't even need to open an app to process a payment. It just lets you tap and go, and then you receive the confirmation/transaction details on your phone. Also, when you pay at select retailers, your loyalty points and offers will be auto-applied at checkout. You might also get special offers piped to your phone when near checkouts.

How does Google Pay work in apps?

To do in-app purchases with Google Pay, follow these steps:

  1. Open a supported app, like Uber or Airbnb.
  2. At checkout or time of purchase, look for the Buy with Google Pay button (or older buttons like Android Pay or Google Wallet).
  3. Press the Google Pay button.
  4. You might be asked to pick a payment method or enter your shipping address before confirming your order.
  5. Learn more from here.

Android offers a "Buy with Google Pay" button in apps, meaning you'll be able to tap a button and swiftly checkout, rather than having to enter your credit card and shipping address each time you make a purchase.

How does Google Pay work in sites?

To pay in supported sites with Google Pay, follow these steps:

  1. You can use Goole Pay in any browser.
  2. At checkout on a supported site, just look for the Google Pay purchase button.
  3. You might be asked to pick a payment method or enter your shipping address before confirming your order.
  4. Learn more from here.

Now, if you see a box at checkout that says "Use selected info for future purchases from this site," check it to use Google Pay and set it as your default payment method. The next time you plan to buy from that site, just choose what you want to buy, start to check out, and confirm that you want to use the payment information associated with Google Pay. Then, all your information will be auto-filled.

Where can you check-out with Google Pay?

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Stores

Google Pay will work in any place that has a contactless payment terminal, and Google has said that merchants don't need to do anything extra to support Google Pay. Simply put: you can use Google Pay anywhere you can use Apple Pay (or any place with a contactless terminal). Google said it works across one million US locations, such as Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, Trader Joes, Walgreens, Whole Foods, etc.

In the UK, it's a similar story, with over half a million on the list. See a full list of stores that accept Google Pay from here.

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Apps and sites

Apps like Airbnb, Cavar, Doordash, Fandango, Instacart, and Kayak all support Google Pay in the US. In the UK, the same thing goes. Again, this makes things simple to pay, and we should see this list of apps expanding over time. See a full list of supported apps from here.

Many of the apps that support Google Pay also support Google Pay on their sites. Plus, with Google Pay, you can check out instantly across Google products like Google Play, Chrome, and YouTube Red using the cards saved to your Google Account. No extra info required. 

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What else can you do with Google Pay?

Peer-to-peer payments

Soon, thanks to new functionality from Google Pay Send (formerly Google Wallet), you can use Google Pay to instantly send money to friends. If they have an email or phone number, you can pay them with Google Pay. And it'll work via Google Assistant, too. You'll just say, "OK Google, send [money amount] to [friend's name] for [reason]. So, "OK Google, send $25 to Greg for concert tickets."

Which devices are Google Pay compatible?

Google Pay is available on all non-rooted Android devices (KitKat 4.4+). However, to pay in stores using Google Pay, your phone must support NFC (near-field communication) and HCE (host card emulation). When you place your phone over a contactless payment terminal in a store, NFC and HCE work together to send your payment information to the store so you can make your purchase.

To find out if your Android phone supports Google Pay in stores, open your device’s Settings app and then tap More under Wireless & networks. If you don’t see this option, look for a similar one like Connections or NFC for example. You may need to tap More to see other settings. If you see the option NFC or something similar, you can officially make payments in stores using Google Pay. Yay!

Which banks work with Google Pay?

US

Google Pay works with your credit and debit cards from the following US financial institutions: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa. These cards are issued by the following US banks and credit unions: Bank of America, Capitol One, Chase, Citi, Discover, PNC, US Bank, Wells Fargo, and more. See a full list of supported financial institutions from here.

UK

Google Pay works with your credit and debit cards from the following UK financial institutions: Visa and MasterCard cards are supported. These financial institutions support Google Pay in the UK: Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank, MBNA, Nationwide Building Society, Natwest, and more. See a full list of supported financial institutions from here.

Is Google Pay secure?

Theoretically, yes. When you're paying in store, Google said Google Pay doesn't share your actual card details. Instead, the merchant receives a unique encrypted number. Similarly, with Android Pay, Google worked with leading payment networks and financial institutions to deliver industry-standard security tokenisation. With tokenisation, the retailer receives a 16-digit number instead of your account number.

As a result, Google Pay's tokenisation is different from Apple Pay's in that tokens aren't generated in a secure chip within the phone but rather within the cloud. Still, if you should ever lose your phone, Google recommends using Find My Device to find or erase it in order to keep your local data safe from prying eyes. However, Google Pay does accept a PIN code, password, or pattern to authenticate transactions.

When will Google Pay be available?

US

Google Pay is now available in the US. You can download it from Google Play. It'll come preinstalled on new NFC-enabled Android phones.

UK

Google Pay is nowavailable in the UK. You can download it from Google Play. It'll come preinstalled on new NFC-enabled Android phones.

Elsewhere

See a full list of countries where Google Pay is available from here.

Want to know more about Google Pay?

Check out Google's Google Pay website for more details. Google also has this handy help hub for all your Google Pay questions.