Google Pay is Google’s answer to Apple Pay — it lets you use your phone to make contactless payments in many stores, and also make purchases in apps and on websites.
All you’ll need to do to use it in stores is open the Google Pay app and hold your phone over a compatible card reader, which should scan your phone automatically.
Despite being made primarily for Android devices that can’t use Apple Pay , Google Pay is available on both Android and iPhone, though the iPhone version is comparatively limited and can’t be used in stores.
You’ll also need to connect a payment method, like a credit card, to your Google Pay account before you can use it.
Here’s how to set it all up.
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How to set up Google Pay on your Android phone
1. If you don’t already have it on your phone, install the Google Pay app from the Google Play store.
2. Start the Google Pay app and then tap “Get Started” on the welcome screen.
3. Follow the step-by-step instructions to configure your Google Pay account. You’ll have the opportunity to connect Google Pay to your Google account (the account you use for Gmail, YouTube, and other Google apps), which can help you take advantage of loyalty cards and online discounts.
4. When you’re asked to add a payment method, you can choose to add a credit card, debit card, or PayPal account.
5. If you add a card and want to use it to make in-store payments, be sure to enter all the card details. You might see a message that says “Set up in-store payments.” Tap the link and enter any missing information.
You’ll likely be asked to verify any payment method you add. The most common way to do this is by having a code texted to you.
If you want to set one payment method as the default, tap on it, and then toggle on “Default for in-store payments.”
If you receive a message that says something like “Google Pay can’t be used” or “Google can’t verify your device,” it means that your phone doesn’t support Google Pay.
- You can use Google Pay in stores to make purchases just using your Android phone.
- If you’ve set up Google Pay and the NFC feature on your Android is turned on, just hold your phone over the store’s card reader.
- In addition to in-store purchases, you can use Google Pay to make purchases online, or send money to friends or family.
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Similar to Apple Pay on iOS devices, you can easily make a payment using Google Pay in the physical stores by holding your Android phone near a compatible payment terminal.
Once you do so, the transaction happens more or less automatically. The process is incredibly convenient.
Here’s how to make sure that Google Pay is set up for in-store purchases, and how to actually make that purchase. Just note that although Google Pay is available on iPhones, you can only use it for in-store purchases on an Android.
How to enable in-store purchases in Google Pay
Once you have the app set up, all you need to do is enable NFC — or “near-field communications” — on your phone. This is what lets it connect to credit card readers in stores.
1. Open the Settings app and tap “Connections,” or “Connection preferences,” depending on your device.
2. Make sure that “NFC and payment” is turned on by swiping the button to the right.
3. You’ll also have to make sure that Google Pay is set as the default payment method on your phone. On some Androids, this option will be located in the “Connection preferences” section. On the “Connection preferences” page, tap “Contactless payments” under “NFC.”
4. Then, select the option for “Payment default: Google Pay.”
On other Android phones, the default payment option may be located in the “Apps & Notifications” section of your Settings app. Open the Settings app, tap “Apps & Notifications,” and select “Default apps.” Then tap “Tap & Pay.” Lastly, set Google Pay as the default app.
How to use Google Pay in a store
When it’s time to pay with your card or contactless payment, you should:
1. Unlock your phone, but you don’t need to open the Google Pay app.
2. Position the back of your phone close to the payment terminal for a few seconds. You might need to experiment a bit, since different terminals put the NFC antenna in different locations, but this will get easier with time as you learn what position works for the payment terminals you commonly use. If the terminal has a wireless or contactless payment symbol on it, try putting the phone near that logo.
3. The Google Pay app should launch automatically, and you may be required to enter your PIN or use the fingerprint reader.
4. After a moment, you should see a check mark appear, indicating that the purchase is complete.
If Google Pay doesn’t start, try repositioning the phone until it does. You might also want to confirm with the cashier that the terminal actually does support Google Pay — some older terminals don’t have contactless payments.
But also keep in mind that just because you don’t see a contactless or wireless logo, it doesn’t mean the terminal won’t support Google Pay.
How to use Google Pay in online stores
When you’re shopping online using your Android phone, you may notice Google Pay as a payment option. If that’s the case. here’s how to use it.
2. Press the Google Pay payment option.
3. Follow the prompts when you’re ready to checkout.
You can also easily send money to others using the Google Pay mobile app. For more information, check out our article, “How to send money through Google Pay using your iPhone or Android.”
Whether you’re traveling or just are having trouble fitting the card in your wallet, here’s how to keep it handy on your phone.
COVID vaccines are amply available in the United States and if you’ve had yours, you also have the awkwardly sized white card that offers proof.
Given that the card itself is larger than a credit card or driver’s license, it can easily get damaged in a wallet. And you might not even remember to carry it all the time. One thing that’s likely always with you, though, is your phone. We have a few ways that you can store it on there so that you always have it with you, whether you need it for work, to dine out, or to see a show.
Note: Your card is “the official record that you were fully vaccinated,” according to the CDC, but it does not qualify as a vaccine passport for international travel.
Take a Photo (It Lasts Longer)
The easiest thing you can do is to take a photo of the front and back of your card and store it in your photo app of choice, like Google Photos.
The second easiest thing you can do is to make that photo a widget so it’s easy to retrieve. For iOS 14 and above, download a photo widget app like Photo Widget: Simple (Opens in a new window) . Open the app and create an album that has only the photos of your vaccination card. Now long-press on the home screen, then tap the plus sign (+) button at the upper left. Select Photo Widget and press Add Widget. Once the widget is on your home screen, tap it to choose the album with your card. To show it, tap twice.
On Android, download a photo widget app like Shortcut Image (Opens in a new window) . Then go to your home screen and long-press an empty area, choose Widget, scroll down to the Shortcut Image app, choose an image file, name it, and press save. A thumbnail widget is now on the home screen and you can press it to show it.
(Google updated its Passes API (Opens in a new window) for easier storage of COVID vaccination and test cards on Android devices, but developers from healthcare organizations, government agencies, and organizations authorized by public health authorities will need to implement it.)
Put It In Your Digital Wallet
VaxYes (Opens in a new window) from GoGetDoc creates a certificate that can be placed in your Apple Wallet or in Google Pay. You enter your phone number on the site and then upload an image of your vaccination card. In return, you get a digital certificate that can be stored in your device’s wallet.
Keep It Via Notes
Apple’s Notes app is handy for lots of things, including carrying your vaccination card. Take a photo of your card, click the share arrow, and then scroll to the Notes app. Select it and save it with an easy-to-remember name. Then go into the Notes app, open the note and click on the three dots at the top. Select Pin so that the note is always easy to find in the app.
For Google Keep (Opens in a new window) , take a photo and then go into Keep and select Add Image and then Choose Image. Select the photo of your card, label it something easy to spot, and hit the Back button. Tap the note and select Pin to keep it easily accessible.
An Apple a Day
Apple Wallet finally has an easy way to add your proof of vaccination (Opens in a new window) if your phone has iOS 15.1. If you were sent a QR code by your vaccination provider, you can open your Camera app and scan it. A Health app notification will pop up. Click on it and then select Add to Wallet & Health and then select Done. If instead you have a downloadable file, tap the link to it and then select Add to Wallet & Health and select Done.