Open, tap, pay, you’re done. That’s how easy it is to pay with a mobile wallet right from your smartphone. According to eMarketer, the number of mobile payment users in the United States is expected to increase to 67.2 million in 2020. Apple Pay is a major player in the mobile payments industry, accounting for about 5% of global card transactions in 2020 and on pace to handle 10% by 2025. Ready to take the leap and try your hand at spending through Apple Pay? Use this guide to learn more about how it works and what benefits you’ll see when you start using the service.

How does Apple Pay Work?

Apple Pay links an eligible form of payment (a debit or credit card) with an Apple device. You can use your Apple device to make payments in stores, online and within apps. You can also use Apple Pay to send money to friends and family or receive payments from others, similar to Venmo. The money sent can be deposited into a linked bank account. With Apple Pay, the card information is already stored, so your device can make the payment quickly with no need to swipe a card or log into an account — making it an extremely convenient and safe choice for your spending needs.

To use Apple Pay, you’ll need an iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad or Mac computer model with Touch ID. You’ll also need a credit or debit card issued from a bank that Apple Pay works with. Most top banks in the United States issue cards that work with Apple Pay, but refer to this list to double-check yours works.

To set up Apple Pay, you’ll need to update your Apple device with the latest Apple operating system and sign in to your Apple ID account. When you’re ready, just open the Wallet app on the device to add a new card. Once the card is verified by the bank or issuer, you can begin using Apple Pay. You’ll have to add payment information to every device you intend to use Apple Pay with.

In stores that accept Apple Pay, log into your iPhone and hold it close to the contactless reader until you see “Done” and a checkmark. To pay with an Apple Watch, double-click the button on the watch and hold the watch display close to the contactless reader until you feel a vibration on the watch. For app payments or web payments with an iPhone or iPad, you can pay with Apple Pay when you see the option to by tapping on the option. Mac models will walk you through with instructions on how to use Apple Pay when it’s available.

Where can I use Apple Pay?

You can tell if a physical retailer accepts Apple Pay when an Apple Pay or a contactless payment symbol is displayed on a payment reader. Within apps and online, an Apple Pay button will be displayed at checkout if that form of payment is available. The button usually has the Apple symbol accompanied by the word “Pay.”

According to Apple, Apple Pay is accepted at 74 of the top 100 merchants in the United States and at 65% of all retail locations across the country. You can also use Apple Pay for major transit systems and apps, as well as at several American universities, dozens of non-profit organizations and Apple services like Apple Music, the Apple app store and the iTunes Store.

Pros of Apple Pay

One of the major pros of Apple Pay is convenience. You don’t have to carry a debit or credit card or worry about losing it or having it stolen. As long as you have your iPhone or Apple Watch, you can make payments at places that accept Apple Pay. The speed of the transaction is also quicker than having to dip a card into a reader and wait for the transaction to process.

Receiving and sending money with Apple Pay is also a breeze. Just use your device to open up a text message to another Apple Pay user. Click the Apple Pay logo, and you can send or request money with a few taps.

Apple Pay’s acceptance is also prevalent, as it’s used by most major retailers. If you have a Visa, MasterCard or American Express (a NextAdvisor advertiser) card from a major bank, you’ll probably be able to set up and use Apple Pay.

Another major benefit is security. You have to log in with a fingerprint or facial ID to activate Apple Pay, so unlike someone stealing and using your physical card, someone who has your device won’t be able to access your digital wallet. Also, no credit card or debit card information is transferred during an Apple Pay transaction, which protects your card details. The tokenization Apple Pay uses to create a unique ID for each transaction, rather than using your credit card number, is similar to EMV chip technology.

Cons of Apple Pay

One con of Apple Pay is that you have to be an Apple user to use it. You may not be a fan of Apple products, so if you never convert to getting an Apple device, you won’t be able to use Apple Pay. That said, there are other digital wallet payment types for non-Apple users with just as wide acceptance. You’ll also need an iPhone or iPad model with Face ID or Touch ID (excluding iPhone 5s) to use Apple Pay. If you have an earlier model, you’re out of luck.

Despite its prevalence in the U.S., Apple Pay is not yet globally accepted. Within countries where it is accepted, Apple Pay may face competition from local bank products. As a result, you may need additional payment options if you’re a global traveler.

Also, in order to use Apple Pay, the merchant will need to accept contactless forms of payment. If you’re a fan of shopping at independent retailers, you may not find Apple Pay acceptance as often.

Success using Apple Pay depends on your device. If your phone or Apple Watch loses battery while you’re out, you won’t be able to use it and will need to have backup cash or a debit or credit card on-hand to make payments.

Should I use Apple Pay?

If you enjoy using Apple devices, using Apple Pay is a quick, secure way to make payments and send and receive money. In some cases, Apple Pay payments may be even more secure than credit card swipe payments. It can take some getting used to when switching from physical card payments to Apple Pay click-and-pay payments, but you might enjoy the convenience and ease with paying directly from your smartphone or watch while on the go.

Just remember to keep your device battery charged so you can use Apple Pay. Otherwise, you’ll need to have a different form of payment available. If you’re not a fan of Apple, look into mobile wallet options for the device you do use.