What is Apple Pay and how does it work?

After launching in the UK in 2015, Apple Pay has now become a popular way to make purchases. But do you know how it works and where you can use it? Read on to discover how to use Apple Pay, which devices and cards it’s compatible with and how it can benefit customers and business owners.

Apple Pay Logo

What is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is a contactless payment solution using an Apple device, such as an iPhone or Apple Watch. It’s essentially a digital wallet that lets users store their credit or debit card details, so they can pay for goods or services with their device instead of the card itself.

How does Apple Pay work?

Apple Pay uses near-field communication (NFC) chips embedded in Apple devices to make contactless payments. The technology can also be used for in-app and online purchases.

Unlike contactless card payments, Apple Pay comes with an extra layer of security. Users can verify who they are by placing a finger on the Touch ID sensor, or by using facial recognition and a passcode, if your iPhone has this feature (more on how each of these options work later).

Laptop and phone

Apple Devices

What you need to use Apple Pay


How to set up Apple Pay


  1. Open your Apple Wallet (formerly known as Passbook). This is a built-in app on Apple devices that users can upload their debit and credit card details to.
  2. If you’ve already got a debit or credit card linked to your Apple ID (i.e. if you’ve made an iTunes purchase), you can use it for Apple Pay, too. If this is the case, you’ll need to re-enter the card’s security code and any other verification steps your bank requires.
  3. If you don’t yet have a card linked to your Apple ID, or you want to add another card to your Apple Pay account, tap ‘add credit or debit card’ or the ‘+’ icon in the top right hand corner and follow the steps on the screen. You’ll either need to take a photo of the card or type in its details.
  4. Once your bank has verified your card details, tap ‘Next’ and you’re ready to go.

Want to remove a card? Just select it, tap the menu icon in the top right corner, then scroll to the bottom to the ‘Remove card’ option.

If you’re using an Apple Watch, you’ll need to use your iPhone to add credit and debit cards. Open the Watch app on your phone and go to the ‘My Watch’ tab, then select ‘Wallet & Apple Pay’ and follow the steps.

Hands on a keyboard

Two looking and using a touch device

How do you pay with a different card instead of your default card?

If you’ve added more than one credit or debit card to your Wallet, you can choose which one you want to set as your default payment method. Apple Pay will then use this card automatically for payments.

Want to pay with a different card? Just tap your default card when it appears, then tap again to choose another. Use Face ID or Touch ID to pay.

On Apple Watch, double-click the side button and when your default card appears, tap it and choose another card. Place your finger on Touch ID to pay.

How to use Apple Pay

Here’s how to make a payment via your default payment card, using your Apple device.

Face ID icon

Pay with Face ID


  1. Double-click the side button on your iPhone, then look at your device to authenticate the payment using Face ID, or enter your passcode.
  2. Hold the top of your iPhone close to the contactless reader, until you see ‘Done’ and a tick on the display.


Finger print to pay with Touch ID

Pay with Touch ID


  1. Rest your finger on – or double-tap – Touch ID.
  2. Hold the top of your iPhone close to the contactless reader, until you see ‘Done’ and a tick on the display.

Pay with Apple Watch

Pay with Apple Watch


  1. Double-click the side button and hold your Apple Watch close to the contactless reader.
  2. Wait until you feel a gentle tap. Simple.

How much can you spend on Apple Pay?

While contactless payments via credit and debit card can only be made up to the value of £45 in most UK stores, Apple Pay can be used for goods or services above this threshold – providing the retailer or bank hasn’t set a limit of their own. In some countries, users may need to sign a receipt or enter their PIN to use Apple Pay for transactions above a certain amount.

Two people sat together looking at a screen

Secured locked padlock with phone receivers around it

Is Apple Pay safe?

In short, yes. Apple Wallet and Apple Pay don’t store card details on your device. Instead, the system uses payment tokenisation to keep user details safe.

When a card is added, a unique Device Account Number (or token) is generated. This token is stored in a Secure Element chip in your Apple device and when you want to make a payment, it’s matched with a unique dynamic security code and the transaction is processed. Retailers and merchants never have direct access to your card details and the token is meaningless on its own as it cannot be reverted back to the original card information.

If your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or Mac is lost or stolen, you can suspend Apple Pay remotely (or wipe it altogether) using Find My iPhone. Alternatively, you can remove your credit and debit cards via iCloud or through your bank.

Apple Pay vs Google Pay vs Samsung Pay

Here’s how Apple Pay compares to other contactless card-free payment solutions.

  Apple Pay Google Pay Samsung Pay
Devices Apple iPhone (SE
and newer)
Apple Watch
(Series 1 and
MacBook Pro (with
Touch ID)
iPad (5th
generation or
iPad Pro
iPad Mini (3 or 4)
iPad Air 2
Android devices
with NFC and HCE
support, running
Lollipop (5.0) or
Samsung Galaxy
(S6 and newer), J5,
A3, A5 and A8
Samsung Galaxy
Note5, NoteFE,
Note8 and Note9
Availability Over 41 countries
29 countries
25 countries
Payment Authentication
  • Fingerprint
  • Facial recognition
  • Password
  • Fingerprint
  • PIN
  • Pattern or password
  • Fingerprint
  • PIN
  • Iris scanner
Participating banks All major banks and
Most major banks
Barclays) and
Most major banks
Barclays) and
Where can you use it? In-store wherever
the contactless
payment logo is
displayed, and
online and in apps
wherever the Apple
Pay logo is
In-store wherever
the contactless
payment logo is
displayed, and
online and in apps
wherever the
Google Pay logo is
In-store wherever
the contactless
payment logo is
displayed, and
online and in apps
wherever the
Samsung Pay
Checkout button is

Which devices work with Apple Pay?

The following Apple devices are compatible with Apple Pay:


  • Apple iPhone (SE and newer, including 6s, 6s Plus, 6 Plus, 7 and 7 Plus)
  • Apple Watch (first generation, Series 1 or 2)
  • MacBook Pro (with Touch ID)
  • iPad (5th generation or newer)
  • Pad Pro (12.9 or 9.7 inch screen models)
  • iPad Mini (3 or 4)
  • iPad Air 2
  • A Mac model introduced in 2012 (or later) with an iPhone or Apple Watch with Apple Pay enabled

You can’t use Apple Pay on an iPhone 5s or older because they don’t have the NFC chip. An iPhone, iPad Air 2 or iPad Mini 3 must be running on iOS 8.3 or higher to make in-app payments.

However, an Apple Watch can work with the iPhone 5 (or newer), as long as it’s running on iOs 8.2 or higher.

Business owner at the till holding Handepay Card Payment Machine

Hand holding card payment ready to pay online

What banks and cards are eligible?

Apple Pay supports many of the major credit and debit card providers, including Visa, MasterCard and American Express. It also works with the following UK banks and building societies (plus many more):

  • Barclays
  • NatWest
  • First Direct
  • Nationwide
  • HSBC
  • RBS
  • Halifax
  • Santander
  • Lloyds
  • Tesco Bank
  • M&S Bank
  • TSB
  • Monzo
  • The Co-operative Bank

Who accepts Apple Pay?

You can use Apple Pay anywhere that accepts contactless payments, including shops, restaurants, hotels, cafes, pubs and Transport for London.

Apple Pay can also be used in apps where you see the Apple logo (see some examples listed below), and on participating websites when browsing in Safari.


Which apps support Apple Pay?

Here’s just some of the apps you can use Apple Pay in:

  • Adidas
  • NatWest
  • Apple Store
  • Nationwide
  • ASOS
  • RBS
  • Booking.com
  • Santander
  • British Airways
  • Tesco Bank
  • Deliveroo
  • TSB
  • DesignMyNight
  • The Co-operative Bank
  • easyJet

What are the benefits of accepting Apple Pay?

As a business owner, taking payments via Apple Pay can make you a more convenient option for your customers. Nowadays, we’re more likely to carry our iPhones with us than our purses or wallets, so accepting Apple Pay will allow people to buy from you more easily.

Apply Pay is also a faster way for customers to make a payment – and for you to take it. This means queues can move faster, you can process more transactions and, ultimately, use the time your staff are saving to focus on other more important tasks.

With global mobile payments reportedly looking to surpass credit card and cash transactions by 2022, it’s worth exploring whether this option could work for you and your business.

How to accept Apple Pay

If you’re interested in finding out more about using Apple Pay – and other contactless card solutions – for your business, get in touch with us today.


Can I return goods I’ve bought using Apple Pay?

Yes – simply return the item back to the store and when asked, hold the top of your Apple device near the contactless reader with the card you used originally selected to get your refund.

How do you check your transaction history?

Simply tap a card in your Wallet and you’ll be able to view the most recent transactions for it. Depending on your bank or card provider, you may be able to see all payments that have been made on that card – not just the ones made via Apple Pay.

If you’re using an Apple Watch, visit the Watch app on your iPhone to view your transaction history.

What if you lose your iPhone or Watch?

Every transaction in Apple Pay needs to be verified by either your fingerprint, passcode or facial recognition. So if your device falls into the wrong hands, someone else wouldn’t be able to make any payments using it (unless they have your passcode).

You can use Find My iPhone on another iOS device to put your iPhone or Watch into Lost Mode. This will lock everything, including your Wallet and Apple Pay, or you can wipe the iPhone completely.

How do you use a rewards card?

Some stores offer the chance to receive and redeem rewards using Apple Pay. If you have a rewards card, simply add it to your Wallet and use it when you make payment. Want your rewards card to appear automatically in a store? Go to the card in your Wallet, tap the three dots and turn on ‘Automatic Selection’.

Apple Pay will switch to your default payment card after you’ve used your reward card to pay for the purchase. Some stores may let you apply your rewards and payment cards at the same time.

Is there a fee to use Apple Pay?

No, there’s no additional charge to use an Apple device as a payment method in stores, websites and apps that accept Apple Pay.

Financial disclaimer:

Terminal hire contracts are provided by Merchant Rentals Limited, who is authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for Consumer Hire under FRN 720500. Terminal hire can be for consumer hire and non-regulated hire contracts. Please check your contract carefully for details. Regulation of all consumer hire fall under the control of the FCA.

Handepay Ltd is authorised and regulated by the FCA for Consumer Credit under FRN 673564. Handepay is a credit broker for consumer hire not a lender.

Handepay acts as an introducer of card acquiring services on behalf of EVO Payments UK, the card acquiring service provider. EVO Payments UK is the trading name of EVO Payments UK Ltd, a payment institution that is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN number 959332).

Existing Cards Businesses- The one-month rolling terminal hire contract from Merchant Rentals is only available to businesses that are switching from their current acquirer to EVO Payments UK arranged through Handepay.

New to Cards Businesses- The 12-month terminal hire contract from Merchant Rentals is only available to businesses that are new to card payments and wish to receive acquiring services from EVO Payments UK, arranged through Handepay.

The Next Day Banking Settlement service provided by EVO Payments UK incurs an additional fee of £4 a month on top of your acquiring service charges and fees. Provided your card machine performs a reconciliation before 12am (midnight), you’ll receive settlement of funds the next banking day.

Editorial disclaimer:

The information we provide does not constitute financial advice and might not apply to your business. Always carry out research into your business’ needs when choosing a new merchant services provider.

Sometimes, we link to other third-party websites to provide you with additional information. At the time of publication, we consider the information accurate, however, we do not have control over their content and are not responsible if any information on these websites change.

The products we display on our website are for illustrative purposes only - if your business requires additional facilities, you may receive a different model than advertised.

All of the information contained on this website, including fees, services and functionality, are correct at time of publishing. E&OE.