Checking out at the grocery and left your wallet at home? Relax; you can still pay your way! Dig out your phone, choose the mobile wallet app of your choice, thumb out the amount you owe and pay the cashier. Or, just hold out your watch until the payment clears. Checkout, done!
The app market is full of mobile wallet apps allowing you to make a payment without touching a card by using near-field communication, or NFC. Any participating retailer or merchant terminal that is NFC-enabled can accept payment from these apps. While most mobile wallet transactions are unlimited, some financial institutions cap these transactions at $50.
Mobile wallet apps keep your information secure by using tokenization, which creates a one-time security code for each transaction and protects against data breaches.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular mobile wallet apps on the market.
Apple Pay allows you to pay for purchases online and in retail locations using credit and debit cards already stored in your iPhone’s Wallet app. If you have an iOS 11, you can also use the service for peer-to-peer (P2P) payments through iMessage.
Accessibility: Apple Pay is available on all Apple Watches and Apple mobile devices that are as recent as the iPhone 6, iPad Air 2, iPad Pro or iPad mini 3. Apple also works with select Macs as long as there is an Apple product nearby. MacBooks with Touch ID can use Apple Pay directly without the assistance of any Apple products.
If you have an Apple device with iOS 11 and you’d like to use Apple Pay for P2P payments, any money you receive will be deposited into your Apple Pay Cash card, which works like a prepaid credit card. You can then use this money for spending through Apple Pay or deposit it into your checking account.
Where it works: More than 4 million locations in the U.S. accept Apple Pay, including GAP, Starbucks and Trader Joe’s. There are also hundreds of financial institutions and payment providers that accept Apple Pay.
Security: In addition to the security provided by using NFC and tokenization, Apple protects your money by requiring you to authenticate your device with Touch ID, Face ID or a PIN whenever you attempt to make a payment through the app.
If you have a Samsung Galaxy device, you’ll want to use Samsung Pay. This wireless payment app is the most widely accepted mobile wallet on the market.
Accessibility: You can use Samsung Pay with all Galaxy devices, including the Gear S2 Sport, Gear S2 Classic, Gear S3 Classic, Gear Sport and Galaxy Watch.
Where it works: Samsung Pay is unique among mobile wallets thanks to its ability to work with both NFC-enabled terminals and the more common magnetic-strip terminals, or MSTs. As Samsung promises, wherever you can swipe a card, you can use Samsung Pay.
Security: Before you use Samsung Pay, you’ll need to do an iris scan, fingerprint or PIN.
Fitbit Pay was created by the popular fitness company to enable exercisers to make small purchases while on the go, using just their Fitbit devices.
Accessibility: You can use Fitbit’s mobile wallet on compatible Fitbit devices, including the Fitbit Ionic smartwatch, Fitbit Versa 2 smartwatch, Fitbit Versa Special Edition smartwatch and the Fitbit Charge 3 Special Edition.
Where it works: Fitbit is currently only accepted by a limited number of financial institutions. You can check out the full list of participating U.S. credit unions and banks here. If your financial institution is connected to the app, you can use it at any NFC-enabled payment terminal.
Security: You’ll have to enter your unique security code each time you want to make a payment with Fitbit Pay.
Another favorite among fitness enthusiasts, Garmin Pay makes buying a bottle of water while on a run as simple as holding up your watch.
Accessibility: Garmin Pay works with the following devices: Garmin Vivoactive 3, Garmin Vivoactive 4 & 4s, Garmin Forerunner 645, Garmin Forerunner 945, Garmin Fenix 5 Plus – X & S, Garmin Fenix 6 – Pro, X, S, Garmin Venu, Garmin D2 Delta, Garmin Legacy series and Garmin Vivomove Luxe & Style.
Where it works: Garmin Pay is currently only connected to a limited number of financial institutions. You can check out the list of participating U.S. banks and credit unions here.
Security: You’ll need to input a PIN before making a purchase through Garmin Pay.
Your Turn: What’s your favorite mobile wallet app, and what do you like best about it? Tell us in the comments.