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Android Pay FAQ: Everything you need to know about Google's mobile payment system

Derek Walter | Dec. 8, 2016
We cover everything from setting up Android Pay, using it as your go-to payment tool, and even saving all of your loyalty and rewards offers.

The promise of mobile payments is that you’ll never need your wallet again. Just a tap on the payment terminal with your smartphone will get you everything from movie tickets to groceries.

In reality, we’re nowhere near ubiquity when it comes to ushering in this plastic-card free future. But after more than a year of substantial updates, Google is in a much better position to leverage Android Pay. If you buy in, you’ll find it’s not only a better way to pay for stuff, but you get the added benefit of a convenient digital container for all of your loyalty and gift cards. 

Optimizing Android Pay for everyday life takes a little bit of effort, but the payoff is worth pushing through the details.

How does it work?

Android Pay uses NFC communication to make a secure credit/debit card transaction between your smartphone and the payment terminal. You’ll be prompted to tap your phone to the contactless payment terminal when it’s your turn at the counter.

android pay chase 
Use your phone to pay at a supported NFC terminal.

Your default card (more on that later) will then be used to extract the money. Depending upon the system being used, you may have to enter your card’s PIN on the payment terminal’s keypad. You’ll get a push notification when the transaction is finished and the clerk will send you on your way. This peppy video from Google exaggerates things a bit, but in general it makes the point about how paying with your phone can be faster.

Which banks work with Android Pay?

There’s a very large and growing list of supported banks and credit card companies, so if you’re with one of the larger institutions then you should be able to get going without any problems. Lately, a whole host of regional banks and credit unions have added support, so odds are good that at least one of your cards is covered.

However, you’ll want to check the details. Wells Fargo, for example, works with Visa but doesn’t support MasterCard or “co-branded” cards (those that are done in partnership between a bank and another retailer for rewards points). Also, Capital One is a mixed bag. Consumer debit, credit, and MasterCards work, but partnership credit, non-Visa credit, and non-U.S. cards won’t work.

If your card is one of the lucky ones, tap Add a credit or debit card and you’ll be prompted to scan it and enter the three-digit code on the back.

android pay add card
You can add a debit, credit, gift, or loyalty card to Android Pay.

 

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