Stop ruining your life and set up Apple Pay for iPhone, Apple Watch

Seriously, what are you waiting for?

Katie Teague Writer II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
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Katie Teague
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Recently I went to pick up my lunch from Subway. I stood in line as they made my sandwich, and when I went to pay, I frantically searched my wallet only to realize I had left my debit card at home. It was one of a million boneheaded moves that people make every day, but one that's completely avoidable if you have Apple Pay set up on your iPhone .

Apple Pay, which is a digital wallet for mobile payments, has been around since 2014, but there are still plenty of holdouts and new iPhone users who haven't gotten around to setting it up. Apple Pay stores your credit card or debit card securely on your phone. While you can use it to buy goods and services at countless participating stores and cash registers, you can also use Apple Pay to purchase things online.

Here are step-by-step instructions for how to set up and use Apple Pay on your iPhone. If you're interested in following along, watch the How To Use Apple Pay video below.

Load your credit or debit card in Apple Pay

1. Open the Wallet app on your iPhone. It's on your first home screen by default.

2. Tap the "+" button in the top-right corner of the screen and click Continue on the next page.

3. Tap Add Card and add your debit or credit card by taking a photo of it or by typing the details.

If you add a photo of your payment card, the details autopopulate and you can enter your security code on the next screen.

4. Add the card's expiration date and security code. Select Next.

5. Select Agree in the bottom-right corner of the Terms and Conditions page once you have finished reading.

6. The next screen explains how to use Apple Pay and shows the two symbols to look for at checkout -- one says Apple Pay and the other is four curved sideways lines. Select Continue on the bottom of the screen.

7. Tap the three dots in the bottom-right corner, select Billing Address. Enter your information and tap Done in the top-right corner.


Use Apple Pay for purchases in-store and online.

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Using Apple Pay

Now that you've added your card, you can begin using Apple Pay in place of a physical bank card.

To make a purchase from the lock screen, double-click the side button (iPhone X and XS) or double-click the home button (iPhone 8 and older) and select Pay with Passcode. Hold your device near the card reader when prompted and the store's payment processor will recognize it.

You can also pay for stuff online with Apple Pay in Safari or in-app purchases. All you have to do is select Buy with Apple Pay and use your Touch ID or Face ID to authenticate the transaction.

Apple Pay is accepted at most locations, but be aware that there are still some point-of-sale registers that don't work with the system.