Update: January 2020. Google Pay now works on Apple iPhones/iPads. Google Pay for Apple can be found here.

Applies to: Android phones. There is a similar service from Apple (Apple Pay) for iPhones, I’ll try and convince someone with an iPhone to set it up and talk about Apple Pay at a later date.

Hey, Mike here. For my birthday I asked for a new wallet which I was very kindly given. I chose a super slim wallet, it looks like this (It’s about the same thickness as the pen), scroll to the end to see all the cards I don’t carry around anymore.

So, it leaves me with a problem, I have loads of store cards (Tesco Clubcard, Boots, Booths, Waitrose etc…) which I don’t really want in my new slim wallet. Bring in Google Pay…

What is Google Pay

Google Pay is a digital wallet. If your phone supports NFC (Find out about NFC here) then you can use your phone to make payments like you would with a contactless card. It basically holds your card details on your phone instead of your card. Meaning you don’t have to carry that card around with you.

Why would you want this? I’m not sure, see my thoughts on using it for a week below…

Limits. In theory, there aren’t any limits on paying by Google Pay (although you might have to type in your password or use a fingerprint on your phone for large purchases). But some shops will apply the same limits as for a contactless card – usually £30 per transaction. So you might still want to carry at least 1 card around in case you need something costing more than that!

What do I need to make this work

  1. Mobile Phone.
  2. The Mobile Phone needs NFC for payments, but you can use it for loyalty cards if you don’t have NFC (here’s how to check for NFC). When you install the Google Pay App it will tell you if you don’t have NFC, that’s the easiest way to check.
  3. Credit/Debit card with a bank that allows Google Pay (most UK ones do, full list here).
  4. Loyalty Cards.
  5. Some time… It has taken me about 30 minutes to add my payment cards (3) and about another 30 minutes to log all my Loyalty cards.

What can I store in Google Pay

  • Credit and Debit cards
  • PrePaid cards
  • Loyalty Cards (Tesco Clubcard etc…)
  • Gift Cards (Costa, Next, Argos etc…)

How to set it up

I’ve only added Credit/Debit cards and Loyalty Cards so that’s what I’ll talk about here

  1. Install Google Pay from the Google Play store, you can get it here.
  2. Open the App on your phone and accept the T&Cs (you should probably read them first, I know I did!).
  3. They have a brief “how it works” tutorial which you can have a read of and tap ‘Next’.

Adding a Credit/Debit Card

  1. To add a card, tap on “Cards” along the bottom of the app then on the blue + sign, choose the type of card you want to add.
  2. It then takes a ‘photo’ of your card, it doesn’t save this, but it uses it to fill in all the details so you don’t have to type them
  3. You then have to activate the card for use in Google Pay, each bank does this differently.
    Halifax – I had to ring a number and confirm I was happy to join the Google Pay program.
    My HSBC card sent me a text message to verify my card for use on Google Pay.
    (There were also more T&Cs to read), yay!

Adding a Loyalty Card (Tesco Clubcard etc…)

  1. To add a card, tap on “Cards” along the bottom of the app then on the blue + sign, choose the type of card you want to add (Loyalty Program)
  2. Choose the Program (Tesco, Coop etc…)
  3. Again Google Pay tries to take a photo of your card, this time it want’s the barcode on your card. Wait for it to take the photo.
  4. Press Save, and that’s it.

How to use it

Paying for things

  1. Find a thing you want/need to buy.
  2. Make sure the shop accepts Contactless Payments (look for this logo or similar).
  3. Wake your phone up (just get to the home screen, no need to open the Google Pay App).
  4. Hold your phone over the payment machine (like you would with a debit/credit card).
  5. Wait for your phone to buzz and show a tick ✓ on the screen.

Loyalty Programs

  1. Wake your phone up
  2. Open the Google Pay (sometimes shortened to GPay)
  3. Tap on “Cards” along the bottom of the screen
  4. Find the Loyalty card  you want to use
  5. Tap on it
  6. Show the barcode to the shop assistant for them to scan (or scan it on a self-service machine)

General Thoughts after using it for a week

I’m not ready to go cashless and cardless yet. I quite like having some cash and at least a payment card with me just in case I’m somewhere that doesn’t accept contactless payments or card payments (such as my local shop, pub and cafe).

I had one problem paying in a small cafe in town, my phone buzzed to say it had worked, but their thing said it failed, I changed which card to use (Open the App, tap on “Cards” then on the card you want to use) and I tried again and it worked.

I got an odd look from the train conductor as I brandished my phone towards the contactless payment machine, but even on the local line here it worked!

I’m not 100% convinced it’s made my life better in any way, but, as for the amount of stuff I now carry around with me its reduced the number of cards I carry. There is also the worry I might run out of battery power on my phone…

Here are 8 cards I don’t carry around in my wallet anymore, but can still use on my phone!

Cards I don’t have in my wallet anymore, carefully arranged to not give away card details 🙂

Mike 🙂
Remember this from 2008? One of the first Contactless payment adverts: