With Android Pay, you can start leaving your wallet behind, as anyone with Android Pay on their device can pay for goods and services with a simple tap of their phone against a compatible point-of-sale terminal with near-field communication, or NFC.
Here’s everything you need to know about Android Pay, including the places and banks that support it.
Support in the U.S.
All four major banks in the U.S. support Android Pay — that’s Chase Bank, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Bank of America. Chase Bank grossly lagged behind the rest of the major U.S. banks, but as of September 2016, it has finally added support for Android Pay. Of course, plenty of other banks are also lagging behind, but now the likes of BMO Harris, Simple, and Charles Schwab have finally added support for the service.
In addition to adding your credit and debit cards to the service, Bank of America is installing NFC-enabled ATMs around the country — this would allow you to access your bank account to withdraw cash just by tapping your phone.
Other U.S. institutions, integrations
Google has added 46 new banks to its roster, but they’re names many will not recognize except for Fifth Third Bank. Some of the others, according to Android Police, include the Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, Greenfield Banking Company, and the Peoples Federal Credit Union. You can check to see if your bank supports the service here.
Most banks that already support Apple Pay will back Google’s service since both use similar NFC technology for payments — other top institutions include PNC, Capital One, TD Bank, HSBC, American Express, Ally Bank, and USAA.
In mid-December, the company added support for 31 additional rural banks and credit unions across the contiguous United States. They include Allegacy Federal Credit Union, the Bank of Walterboro, Canyon State Credit Union, First Piedmont Federal Savings, Jackson Community Federal Credit Union, Northeast Georgia Bank, San Francisco FCU, USC Credit Union, Verve, and Washington Trust Bank.
The expanded support comes on the heels of 19 additions earlier in December 2016. These include 1st Advantage Federal Credit Union, ACU of Texas, Alpine Credit Union, Alternatives FCU, Bank of the Ozarks, Union State Bank of Fargo, and Valley Federal Credit Union.
MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover support Android Pay. Sites that support Visa Checkout and Masterpass will soon be able to handle Android Pay as well, thanks to a strategic partnership. You’ll be able to use your fingerprint to confirm payments as well, and Visa Checkout and Masterpass customers will be able to link their accounts with Android Pay as well. The integration will roll out in early 2017.
Android Pay made its debut on the global stage when it launched in the U.K. in May, and the service has slowly continued to expand since. It’s now available in Japan, Ireland, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Poland.
Contactless and mobile payments are already widely used in Japan, and on December 12, Android Pay becomes the latest option for shoppers. However, it has launched with Rakuten Edy, an eMoney service accepted in more than 470,000 locations, rather than local banks. Operated through the usual Android Pay app, you create an Edy card or use an existing one, ready to use in supporting stores.
In 2017, Google says to expect more payment options, including Visa and Mastercard, through its cooperation with local payment specialists FeliCa Networks.
On December 6, Android Pay made its way to Ireland, and it promises compatibility “at thousands of retail locations throughout Ireland that accept contactless payments.” From McDonald’s to supermarket Tesco to book retailer Eason, there are plenty of places in which Europeans can now use Android Pay. Here is a list of places where Android Pay is now accepted in Ireland.
In November, New Zealand received access to Android Pay, and according to Google, it will be available at a number of common locations, including The Warehouse, Domino’s, McDonald’s, etc. As of right now, it only supports the BNZ Flexi Debit Visa card, but it will expand to more services as time goes on.
Poland got Android Pay in November, and Google says it’s available at more than 400 retail locations such as Costa Coffee, Carrefour, and Rossman. You can add your Mastercard or Visa debit or credit cards from the following Polish banks: Alior Bank, Bank Zachodni WBK, and T-Mobile Banking Services. Google says support for mBank will come soon, as well as other banks in the coming months. The payment service will also be available in various apps soon, including Allegro, Ceneo, Fancy, iTaxi.pl, and Uber.
In October, Android Pay launched in Hong Kong, with a related blog post announcement noting that the service would be accepted “at over 5,000 locations in Hong Kong where contactless payments are accepted, including stores such as at 7-Eleven, Circle K, Fortress, Mannings, Maxim’s Cakes, MX, McDonald’s, Pacific Coffee, ParknShop, SmarTone, Watsons, Wellcome, and more.” Moreover, it also works in several apps including Boutir Collect, Deliveroo, Kaligo, Klook, Snaptee, and coming soon, Uber. You can check here to see all the supported banks in Hong Kong, including Hang Seng Bank, DBS Bank, Dah Sing Bank, the Bank of East Asia, Standard Chartered Bank, and more.
In Australia, Google has listed an impressive number of supported banks — more than 25 including ANZ, Beyond Bank, and Macquarie. Unfortunately, ANZ is the only one out of the top four banks in Australia to support the payment service. To see the list of supported Australian banks, check here.
Aussies will also soon be able to use Android Pay within select apps such as Catch of the Day, Deliveroo, Domino’s, EatNow, Hotel Tonight, Kogan.com and more. That means speedier checkout times in apps as you won’t have to type out all your credit card information.
In late June, Singapore became the third country to get Android Pay. It’s compatible with any contactless terminal in the country and supports loyalty cards and credit card rewards programs. The service is compatible with MasterCard and Visa cards from many of the country’s largest institutions, including DBS Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, OCBC Bank, POSB Bank, and UOB. You can check the full list of supported banks in Singapore here.
Google’s first financial partners in the U.K. are the Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Nationwide, MBNA, and M&S Bank. The search giant recently added Santander, RBS, Ulster Bank, and NatWest to the list. Both MasterCard and Visa debit and credit cards from co-operating banks will work, and TSB customers should know only selected account types can use the service.
Even though it supports Apple Pay, it doesn’t look like Barclays will ever support Android Pay. The second-largest U.K. bank launched its own NFC payments service called Contactless Mobile. You can check this list to see which banks support Android Pay in the U.K.
Retailers that will accept Android Pay payments include Costa Coffee and Starbucks, Boots, Waitrose, Aldi, Superdrug, and KFC. Plus, like Apple Pay, transport for London’s ticketing system will support it. Various shopping apps such as Deliveroo, Fancy, Kickstarter, Zara, Takeaway.com, and Hotel Tonight will offer Android Pay as a payment option.
The contactless payment restriction of £30 remains in place, but in some situations, you’ll be able to spend up to £100 provided you authorize the transaction using a fingerprint or PIN code.
Compatible devices and security
To use Android Pay, you’ll need an NFC-enabled smartphone running Android 4.4 KitKat and above. It will work at stores with NFC contactless payment terminals.
Like most NFC payment systems, Android Pay comes with all the necessary security, including a way to shut down devices that have been stolen so nobody can use your card. The system uses tokenization, which processes transactions via individual random account numbers, rather than your actual credit or debit card account number. In-app purchases are as safe as its NFC contactless counterpart.
Rewards and loyalty
As Android Pay is meant to replace your wallet, it’s expanding to include all those other cards you would typically have on you as well — gift and loyalty cards.
Google has been expanding its partnerships, and as such the company says Android Pay is the first mobile wallet to “deeply integrate” with Uber’s Payment Rewards program.
Walgreens says its Balance Rewards members can now apply their loyalty account via Android Pay at checkout. If you’re a member, all you need to do is add your Balance Rewards card to the Android Pay app. When you’re at the register, hold up your Android smartphone to the NFC terminal to apply your rewards information — when you’re ready to pay, hold the smartphone up again at the same place. You’ll have to add your credit or debit card beforehand to complete the purchase, of course.
In-App and mobile web purchases
Although you’ll probably use Android Pay mostly in shops, it will also let you make in-app purchases. When you’re about to purchase something in an app that supports the service, you’ll see a button to pay using Android Pay, eliminating the need to get your wallet and pull out your credit or debit card. At the moment, Google has listed more than a dozen apps that support in-app purchases with Android Pay including Lyft, OpenTable, Hotel Tonight, and Instacart.
If you make purchases via the Chrome Browser app on your phone, you’re in luck. Google is adding support for Android Pay for certain sites, making the checkout process less of a hassle. It currently works with a handful of sites such as Groupon and 1-800-Flowers. The integration with Visa Checkout and Masterpass is sure to boost the number of sites that support Android Pay as well.
“Just like in stores and in apps, Android Pay does not share actual account numbers with merchants, so users can shop online with confidence, knowing that Android Pay keeps their card number secure,” according to the Android blog.
Stores with NFC terminals support Android Pay
Like all other forms of NFC payment, Android Pay will be accepted in more than one million stores across the United States, including Toys ‘R’ Us, GameStop, Subway, Whole Foods, and more. Walmart does not accept contactless payments, yet.
Limited support for NFC payments is the main hurdle systems like Android Pay and Apple Pay face in the United States and elsewhere. However, Apple Pay has managed to increase the amount of interest in contactless payment, which in turn helps Android Pay to be accepted at all of these stores. As more stores switch over to the EMV standard in the United States, NFC adoption could rise as well.
There are a lot of big players in mobile payments these days, the most iconic of which are Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. Google’s Android Pay competes with both services, but it is quite similar to Apple Pay in its implementation and reliance on NFC technology.
Related: Everything to know about Samsung Pay
In contrast, Samsung Pay uses a unique system that is capable of manipulating regular card registers. The MST technology, which Samsung acquired for $200 million, allows the payments service to be compatible in every store that supports credit cards with magstripes. As such, Samsung Pay has a much longer reach than Android Pay and Apple Pay, though it is limited to Samsung phones and the Gear S2/Gear S3 smartwatch only.
We’ll keep you updated as more partners and details are announced.
Article originally published in 2015 by Andy Boxall. Julian Chokkattu, Rob Nazarian, Malarie Gokey, Christian de Looper, and Kyle Wiggers have all subsequently contributed to this report. Updated on 01-16-2017 by Christian de Looper: Added news of BMO Harris, Simple, and Charles Schwab support.